Race Prep: Running

Running is one of the most intimidating sports out there, and even seasoned racers experience stress in the days leading up to a big event. Unlike most races, running requires little equipment—shoes, clothing, and an optional hydration system are the only variable pieces. As a result, race preparation and training are essential for even the shortest of races or the most experienced of runners. Popular Couch to 5K programs emphasize that even the smallest amount of effort can make a difference on race day, but longer distances necessitate a strict training and eating schedule. Below, we have included a few of our favorite running race prep tips.

Athletes should choose their training programs based on the length of their race. Most beginner 5K programs are between four and six weeks long, while 10K and half marathons can take around 12 weeks of training. If you are thinking of undertaking a marathon, you should give yourself at least 18 weeks to complete a training program. It is essential to choose a race based on your current fitness level—most training programs require a base weekly distance, so don’t expect to run a marathon in 18 weeks if you cannot currently run a mile.

When it comes to training, runners should focus on the sport itself—running—and strength training. Though preparation varies from program to program, serious runners should aim to incorporate at least four days of running each week, one day of additional cardio (kickboxing, cycling, skiing, &c), and two to three days of strength training (can be combined with cardio days). It is essential to work on strengthening each part of your body; though running is primarily a lower body workout, spend some time toning your arms and abdominal muscles. You may be surprised by what is sore after a race.

As with every race, it is essential for athletes to give their bodies time to rest between intense workouts. If you are preparing for a marathon with 10mi+ runs, rest or do low-impact exercises between long runs. If you feel like something is wrong, take a few days off and see a doctor. If you have to take a break from training, focus on your diet, stretching, and mental preparation for the race ahead.

Winter Sports Racing

While summer sports tend to dominate the racing scene in Salida, it’s a year-round wonderland. clip into your alpine skis for downhill racing at Monarch, snap into your cross country skis for the Cosmic competitive cross-country ski series, and strap on your snowshoes for snow runs throughout the winter. And when you’re done with all that, pick yourself up a sled dog or 10, and sign up for some skijoring or sled-dog races. Here’s a few races to look out for if you like rosy cheeks and icicles in your beard.

The Town Challenge Ski Race Series – The Town Challenge Ski Race Series is a series of team slalom races that run January through March at Monarch Ski Area just down the road from Salida. The races feature races for all ages and abilities, including telemark, A-league skiing, B-league skiing, snowboard, masters divisions, and super seniors. Compete in individual events, or as a team with other racing enthusiasts.

Monarch Mountain Race the Divide – Part of the Cosmic series mountaineering competitive ski racing series, the Monarch Mountain Race the Divide is a grueling cross country ski race over the continental divide in the middle of winter, covering miles of challenging terrain and over 3,000 feet of elevation gain on Monarch Mountain. And if you’re into that kind of thing and want to more Cosmic Series fun, the Wolf Creek Rando and the Griggs Orthopedic Ski Mountaineering Ski Race are over the hills and through the woods in the neighboring San Luis Valley.

Christmas Mountain Run – If you can’t get enough trail running in during the summer, there are a number of snow runs in the area, most sponsored by the Chaffee County Running Club. The Christmas Mountain Run in mid-December is one of our favorites.

The Dryland Mush – Okay, so it doesn’t technically take place on dog sleds, but it does feature sled dogs. The Dryland Mush in Buena Vista is held in November each year and features teams of dogs participating in cart races as well as modified skijoring (a single dog or two pulling a contestant on skis – or in this case, a bicycle since it’s a dryland event).