Wednesday, February 5, 2014

13 things I learned during my 13 in 2013 Challenge

I completed my 13 in 2013 Challenge and boy do I feel accomplished, empowered, in-shape and host of other feelings but most of all I feel educated about this whole process and I’m here to share some of what I learned.

1. Eat a balanced carb load meal the night before
My first half-marathon I felt overweight and was following a strict diet. The night before my race I told my aunt I was having a smoothie for dinner. She told me: "that’s fine if you wanted to burnout half way through." She was right, so I ate some of the pasta dinner she prepared and I believe that is the only reason I completed that race. Nowadays, I take in at least 600 calories in carbs for my pre-race carb-load dinner.

2. Wear comfortable socks and underwear
I learned the hard way the importance of quality underwear. I ran a race with socks that were too thick that made my feet hurt severely and with panties that rode up with every stride. The discomfort caused both chaffing and docked me some time of what could have been a PR.  I now purchase quality socks and comfortable underwear.

3. Enlist support
I perform better when I know someone is on the sidelines waiting for me to finish victoriously. My friends shouting “Go Enjoli” as I sprint to the finish line is one of the best moments of a race.

4. Register early
Most people I know like to save money. The sooner you register the more money you save. Prices raise by $10-$25 dollars depending on the race, after each deadline.

5. Go to packet-pick up
Go to packet pick-up and go early. Here is where you’ll get your shirt, race bib, timing chip, and safety pins. In addition, most packet pick-ups are like fun expos to meet new people, learn about new products, and get free samples galore.

6. Reward yourself
Each time I made a PR or sometimes just completing the race itself, I gave myself a reward as both an incentive and a gift to self. I'm a sucker for cute workout shirts on Etsy so I frequently rewarded myself with one after races. My final gift to self was a medal holder which holds my race bibs, my medals, and a picture of me. One of my best treats this year.

7. Pack healthy post race snacks
Post-race snacks are vital for recovery. As a vegan it’s very important to pack your own snacks because you can’t depend on the organization to have vegan options. After one race the only options were ice cream, brownies, cookies, goldfish and danishes...not my cup of tea

8. Get a good nights rest before
Although, I am known to get under 6 hours most nights this is not recommended before a race. A good night's rest is crucial to performance on race day. I recommend 8-9 hours of sleep and no exercise 1-2 days before race to allow the body to fully rest.

9. Follow a training plan
I have to admit I didn't follow a training plan and I honestly believe had I followed one my PR would be so much better. People who did follow a plan seemed better prepared on race day and recovered with zero to few injuries.

10. Join a running group
A running group helps build new friendships, motivates you to run, and empowers you to improve. I joined running group Black Girls Run almost 2 years ago and have run with them a few times for conditioning and love running with them during big races. There is nothing like seeing a friend cheer you on while running through a tough spot.

11.Smile for race pics
Smiling seems to increase my energy number one and it when race photos are processed I’m more inclined to love and purchase my photos. In my first few race photos I looked tired, uncomfortable, and out of breath. This time around my hands are up in the air with a big smile.

12.Bring post-race toiletries
If you're like me and want to take photos after the race and/or eat out among the normal world of not sweat or dog-tired people you’ll want to bring a mini toiletry bag. I always pack face wipes, deodorant, perfume, gum, and lip gloss. I love looking (and smelling) fresh with my new race bling around my neck.

13. Wear something fun (and comfortable)
When I first started running I wore whatever outfit I could find. Little did I know I should wear comfortable undergarments, something I feel cute in, and a splash of something fun. During my races I often seen women in tutu’s, colorful knee-high socks, frilly arm, waist, and head bands neon bright. I loved seeing these women they looked like they were having so much fun. So now I like to add a little something fun when I race. Super important to wear something comfortable and train with it to be sure it won't impede running. For my divas race I wore a tutu which got caught between my legs at every half bueno.

*Bonus tip* Have fun
Whether you're trying to make a PR, beat a previous PR, or just in it for the bling. Most important is to have fun and not take it too serious. The body responds negatively to stress which will directly impact race day performance. So best to stride with ease and a smile.

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