Fall is here, and it’s time to kick the running up a notch—races are just around the corner! This time of year is great. The weather has finally cooled down enough that I don’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. to squeeze in a long run before it gets too hot.
Speaking of long runs, endurance is key for ensuring top performance on race day. Make sure you fit plenty of longer runs into your schedule to balance the speed work. During my cross country days, our coach always made us do strides—short 100 meter sprints—after our training runs. I never understood why, but they really work. Strides help improve your kick at the end of the race.
Let’s talk about the end of the race. No matter the distance, you will likely be tired. Just breathe, and remind yourself of all the hard work you’ve put into training for this race. Don’t slow down now! I always tell myself, “Just five more minutes—you can do ANYTHING for five minutes!” That usually makes it a little easier.
After you cross the finish line, you’ll want to refuel your tired muscles. While there are always plenty of sports drink options at races, nothing beats chocolate milk. I started drinking chocolate milk after my long runs in high school. I think that was around the time that the first research came out about the benefits of chocolate milk as an effective recovery beverage after exercise. Before that, I used to grab one of the “traditional” sports drinks, but while it replenished lost fluid and electrolytes, it didn’t do much else. Chocolate milk has just the right combination of carbohydrates and protein to fuel your muscles and fill you up.
Did I mention that milk is 87 percent water? That’s right, so it is an EXCELLENT way to rehydrate. The remaining 13 percent contains protein, carbohydrates and other essential nutrients to help refuel your body after a tough workout or race.
It’s time to channel your excitement and put all that training to work as you race for a new personal record. I’m running a 5k tomorrow! I’m pretty excited. After I cross the finish line and catch my breath, it’s not Gatorade I’ll be reaching for—it’s chocolate milk.
Here’s to another great racing season!