The running community has rested well from The Donna: Breast Cancer Marathon on February 6, 2022 and is now gearing up for The Gate River Run. As a former runner, this was one of my favorites. Traversing the neighborhoods filled with people lining the roads cheering for the runners was so encouraging. Seeing the Green Monster in the distance knowing the end was near was exhilarating to say the least. There’s nothing better than the running community. Runners are probably the most supportive group you can connect with. They encourage, motivate and even sacrifice to help their fellow runners. With the Gate River Run coming up on March 5, 2022, there’s still time to lace up your running shoes, begin preparing and enjoy the course. To help prepare you for the run, we’ve asked Personal Running Solutions own Coach Paul McRae to chime in on how to prepare for The Gate, the course and, of course, The Hart Bridge.
How to Prepare for the Gate River Run
The most anticipated event for runners here in Jacksonville, FL is the Gate River Run. With a history dating back to 1978, this is the nation’s largest 15k. The Gate River Run will bring more than 20,000 participants to this city on Saturday, March 5, and in case you are one of them, we wanted to share some ways to prepare.
It takes motivation to do just about anything, and running, especially if the weather is not inviting, takes even more motivation. Although you know you will feel better after a run, it can be tough to get going. The key to preparation is motivation. Some ways to master motivation include:
Talk to Yourself – It may sound crazy, but talking to yourself is a great way to get yourself going.
Break Up Your Run – Like any other project or task, a long run can seem daunting and make you feel overwhelmed. Breaking it up into smaller segments gives you manageable goals to reach and exceed. Breaking up your run makes you feel a sense of accomplishment and a push to keep going.
Embrace the Challenge – Running is a mental and physical test, and it feels good to meet and exceed that challenge. The act of running can take you back to a healthy place of using your body and feeling the immense joy of it meeting the goals you set. Embracing the challenge can lead to a real and fulfilling sense of empowerment that will extend to other areas of your life.
Tricks of the Trade – There are other ways to make running easier and more fun, including playing counting games, listening to music, visualizing your race, trying a new route, and running with fellow runners or even reluctant friends and family.
Reward – Of course, rewarding yourself for good behavior can include a running reward. Consider making post-run plans you can get excited about as a reward.
Be Your Own Cheerleader – Finding your own personal mantra can help you focus and power through, even when things get difficult. Using imagery to imagine yourself smashing your goals can inspire you beyond what you think is possible.
Training tips to set you up for success.
Since the Gate River Run is just around the corner, it is important to evaluate where you are with your training and if you are ready for it. Since this run is 9.39 miles, make sure you can comfortably run at least six miles before the race.
It’s no secret runners love their shoes, and this is because the importance of shoes cannot be overstated. The right shoes are essential for ensuring you are running in proper form. Wearing improper footwear can lead to injuries, so make sure you and your shoes are ready long before the race.
Eat before you run
The participants of the Gate River Run will expend approximately 1000 calories. Anytime you run, your body is going to need energy it will then consume and use. Food is your fuel, so make sure you eat before and after a run.
Don’t skimp on stretches.
Injuries are one of a runner’s biggest fears, so don’t invite injury by failing to stretch. When we run, muscles are suddenly stretched and stressed with the activity. If you go from a sedentary state where muscles are contracted and suddenly shift to running, muscles are unprepared, and you risk an injury. If the muscle is stretched and blood flow is optimized, your body is more capable of handling the run without the issues un-stretched muscles may suffer.
Stretches that Should Be in Your Running Repertoire:
- Knee Hug
- Child’s Pose
- Hip Flexor
- Seated Hamstring
- Toe Touches
- Wall Push
- Downward Dog
Whenever you run, your body performs an amazing feat it was designed to do. The same way stretching before a run is important to prepare your body for the activity, cooling down after a run is integral for transitioning your body to a normal resting state.
During a run, your body is pumping blood extremely quickly to power your muscles. If you abruptly stop, blood can collect in your legs, and you may experience dizziness and cramping. Cooling down lets your body safely return to normal by lowering your heart and breathing rate and circulating blood throughout your body. Your muscles will relax, preventing stiffness and soreness, leaving you in better shape to be ready for the next run.
Recovery starts with cooling down by moving to a slow jog or walk to naturally decrease your breathing and heart rate. The next step is stretching your pliable muscles with these stretches:
- Standing quad stretch
- Standing hamstring stretch
- Standing calf stretch
Foam rollers are a great tool for cooling down after a run. Rolling flushes toxins, releases tightness, and breaks down knots. When you find a spot that needs attention, roll back and forth until it softens. Rolling helps you stay loose and flexible, leaving you ready for future training.
A cold shower should be part of your recovery process as it will:
- Increase Blood Flow
- Increase Oxygen Intake
- Increase Heart Rate
- Increase Alertness
- Increase Endorphins
- Reduce Muscle Soreness
- Boost Immune System
- Prevent Dry, Itchy Skin
For the maximum benefit, face the showerhead and stay in the cold water as long as you can tolerate. Allow the cold water to hit all areas of your body. The more frequently you take cold showers, the more you will acclimate to it and reap the benefits.
Another vital component of recovery is to rehydrate and refuel. You need to replenish your body’s fluids and aid in muscle repair. After a run, drink enough fluid to counteract the fluid loss and replenish electrolytes. Eating within 30 minutes speeds your recovery. What you choose to eat and drink after a run directly impacts your recovery and affects muscle repair and growth. Eating carbohydrates helps restore glycogen and protein repairs and refuels muscles.
Lastly, never underestimate the importance of sleep. To perform and excel, sleep is one of the most critical aspects of your overall health.
These are just a few ways to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the enduring fun of the Gate River Run. If you ever need assistance with any aspect of running or training here in Jacksonville, FL, contact the experienced coaches at Personal Running Solutions.
About the Author
Paul McRae began PRS – Personal Running Solutions in 2007 in Jacksonville, Florida to promote the sport he is incredibly passionate about in the city he loves. Alongside his wife and PRS Coach, Lydia, Paul races often and coaches many in the running community to reach their running goals. You can find more information on PRS here.