Sunday, October 12, 2014

Being Weather Wise for Your Race

As the old saying goes, the race must go on.  Well it is something like that, but with every road race, inclement weather doesn’t stop the race from continuing. Only things that get in the way of this rule is if lightning is in the area or if the heat is crazy bad, and then the safety of the runner is paramount, and the race will be delayed.  I know for me, when it’s uncomfortable outside I make the hard decision and jump on the “dreadmill” at the gym.  But when you sign up for a big destination race like the runDisney Princess Half Marathon or the Crescent City Classic you don’t want to forego the one thing you have been training months to complete.  The only options you have now are to adapt and overcome, or give up.  Which as a runner, giving up is never an option.  Therefore, the big question is how to fulfill your goal without risking long lasting sickness or injury.

I’ve had the pleasure of running in sleet, snow, 100-degree heat and humidity to match, pouring rain, thick fog, and freezing wind that cuts through you like a knife.  Every one of these just happened to be during the WDW Marathon weekends over the years, so you really have to prepare for everything.  Here are some of my tips to try and be mentally and physically prepared for any experience:

Plan: History tends to repeat itself.  Do some climatological research on the time of year and area where you will be running.  Even though meteorology has progressed, the weather forecast can only be “guaranteed” about 10 days out.  However, you can see two different things when looking at the past: a consistent pattern or no pattern at all.  If there is a pattern, you can assume this will hold true, with little modification.  If the weather is all over the place, you will need to have everything ready to go in the days leading up to the race.
Running in the Fog During the Princess Half Marathon
Prepare: Become a race day Boy Scout.  Prepare for, ALMOST, every situation.  Think about how you feel comfortable running in different types of weather.  Think about layering for the cold and being able to adjust mid-run by taking off or maybe even throwing on that extra layer to help you get through the run.  Pack to cover the range of weather you should expect; and after watching the evening’s weather forecast for the next day, layout your clothes.

Race Day Sleet and Snow
Hydrate: Drink water like it’s going out of style.  Humans can adapt to any situation and environment.  With enough water and nutrients we can handle, with little discomfort, almost all the elemental factors.  As it gets into the extremes, our body compensates and uses all its fuel to either warm or cool off; so, you want to be sure to have enough in the tank to accommodate.  Drink plenty of fluids the night before and try not to miss a water stop.  The rule is, if you get thirsty it is usually too late.
Drink Water!
Run your Race: Franky says relax.  Don’t go nuts and try to be prepared for EVERY situation, because all you will do is be uncomfortable and unprepared for ALL situations. The goal is to be able to quickly adapt on race day, but to run your race how you’ve run it all year. 
Enjoy the Race!
Fix Your Mind: Get mentally ready for the unexpected:  It's not funny to be surprised especially on the big day.  It is better to be mentally prepared for likely situations that may occur and determine how you will handle it.

Even Jasmine Gets Cold...
Play as you practice: It does make perfect. Now here is the hard part, don’t go overboard… facing a bit of adversity is a good thing, but don’t try something for the first time on race day. You wouldn’t run a marathon in new shoes, so why would you wear different clothes or have more gear than you have trained with?   Bring running clothes you are comfortable in and train with your gear before race day.  

These races are all about the experience of accomplishment.  Through your months of training you have overcome mental and environmental adversity, in hopes that you would be prepared for your race.  The greatest stories in life have been crafted by overcoming seemingly large obstacles.  Heck I still tell the story of how it was snowing in Disney World while I was running the Marathon!

You’ve trained for months, and you are ready… just go run!

MTFBWY
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Tash – The Deliberate Dad (thedeliberatedad.wordpress.com).  Through my blog, I provide a window into my world as Cub Master, runDisney addict, Black Belt, Pok√©mon aficionado, dad, and friend.  Follow us on our journey, helping each other become better people.