Race Prep: Cycling

Road cycling is incredibly popular in Salida, but races are some of the most underestimated events in the sports world. Many people can ride bicycles, and many of that subsection can ride quickly. However, training for a cycling race is an entirely different experience; more than a recreational hobby, it becomes difficult to keep up with elite teams, the expensive gear, long events, and hardcore training schedules. Though there are many beginner-friendly races available—especially in Salida–you should have an understanding of this type of competition before signing up for a race.  
The first step to preparing for a cycling race is simple: choose the right race. Salida has countless options—there are road races, mountain bike races, cyclocross, and even triathlons. Think about the type of biking you most enjoy and wouldn’t mind practicing for several hours every day. Then find the race that works for you. Once you’ve established the type of race you’d like to try, get the appropriate gear.  
Once you have your entry ticket and the correct equipment, you’re ready to start training. The most important aspect of cycling training is to build strength and skill. You’ll need to improve your overall fitness, but you should also work on mastering the sport itself. Of course, you already know how to ride a bike, but do you know how to pace yourself, gain speed on hills, and when to lift yourself off the seat? Probably not—yet. The best way to do this is to bike often. Top local riders will often train for 15 to 20 hours each week; do your best to fit in one hour each day, then gradually increase your speeds and distances.  
Bikers should also introduce tempo and interval workouts early on in their training. For tempo rides, increase your pace to a speed that feels uncomfortably fast, but remains sustainable for around fifteen minutes. Interval training will involve going all out for short segments, alternating with rest periods. If possible, squeeze in a few training sessions on the course you will eventually race, and if you’re doing a mountain or gravel race, be sure to do most of your training on the same or similar terrain.  
Preparing for a cycling race is a long game, and cramming a couple of weeks before the event will yield poor results. In the week before race day, reduce your training and cut back on total mileage. On the day before the race, do a short ride with small bursts of speed throughout. Don’t stress out, and don’t compare yourself to other bikers; just focus on the course and doing your personal best.

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.