Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tip Tuesday - Race Ready with Flat Me

So this week for Tip Tuesday I have racing on my mind because this weekend I'm running the Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte (see this post for more details). 

Anyway, race day can be pretty crazy. No matter how many times I race (I ran 21 races in 2018) and no matter the distance, I always get super nervous right before. And when you are super nervous, it is easy to make mistakes and forget things. So, to combat this, I am a firm believe in a Flat Me

My Flat Me for last year's Hot Chcolate 15K
A Flat Me is basically where you set out all of the gear that you are going to wear and use during your race and lay it out flat, arranged how it would be worn on your body. This gives you a good physical representation of all of your gear so you can see if you are missing anything. 

And when I say everything, I mean everything including stuff that you will carry in your pack as well. You don't want to get to the start line of a race and realize you are missing something. For example, let's say you get to the start of your Half Marathon and realize you have no gels on you. Trust me, this happened to me last month and it was not a fabulous realization. Luckily, there was a Fleet Feet Sports right at the Start (very lucky) but had I set out a Flat Me, which I usually do, but didn't for some dumb reason, I would not have had that problem. 

What about you? Do you do a Flat Me before your race? If not, how do you make sure that you have everything you need for race day? 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Almost Time To Run For Chocolate!

received entry into the AllState Hot Chocolate Charlotte15K as a part of being a BibRave Pro. Check out BibRave.com to read and write race reviews. 

This coming Saturday I will be running one of my favorite fun races of the year, The Hot Chocolate 15K in Charlotte, NC. Why do I love it so? Here are the top 5 reasons.

1. It's a Great Race for All Levels.
Everything is better with friends! 
The Hot Chocolate races offer 2 distances, a 5K and a 15K which make it a great race for pretty much any level from beginners to more seasoned racers. And because the theme of the race is Hot Chocolate, something that everyone can get behind, it seems just less intimidating that a more traditional race. This year is particularly exciting one for me in that I organized a group from my gym to run the race this year, many of which will be running their first race ever. I helped them by making up 3 training plans**, a 5K plan for beginners (with run/walk intervals), a 5K plan a bit more advanced (all running) and a 15K plan. I cannot wait to see the excitement as these awesome ladies cross the finish line! There is so much excitement from my group that just this morning, we were talking about it and another lady asked us if it were too late to sign up. NOPE! Registration is still open here - https://www.hotchocolate15k.com/charlotte/ (just be sure to read this list all the way through for a coupon code for some extra SWAG if you decide to sign up!) 

2. Free Race Photos! 
FREE PHOTOS! Heck yeah! Free photos is almost unheard of for National Race events these days, but Hot Chocolate races will hook you up! Shortly after the event, you will be emailed a link where you can find and download High Resolution photography taken throughout the event, both on course and at the Start/Finish. So be sure that you bib is front and center, displayed proudly so you can get your FREE photos after the race. 

3. The SWAG is Amazing!
Hot Chocolate races have some of the nicest SWAG out there. Seriously, their participant jackets are worth the registration cost alone! This year, the jackets are a full zip tech in either Merlot or Black. They are pretty true to size, but you are also given the opportunity to try on and swap out if necessary, which is really nice. In 2018, I ran two different Hot Chocolate races just to get one of each color they were so awesome. Additionally, you can typically score some extra swag when you register with a BibRave coupon code. This year, with coupon code BRHCCharlotte you receive a free Hot Chocolate Phone Arm Band. 15K participants also get a super sweet medal that is specific to your city. This year's Charlotte medal has the Charlotte Skyline across the bottom. 

4. 9.3 Miles is a Perfect Distance.
I've run a lot of races over the years, and I've found that a 15K is probably my favorite distance to race. It is challenge, but not too much so. Right around 10 miles is where I start thinking to myself - Why am I still running? Well, a 15K ends right before that, so I feel super strong the entire distance. I wish there were more 15Ks out there. 

Just look at this deliciousness from last year!
You knew this was going to be the top reason, but it is so true. Once you finish the race, they hand you a big bowl full of absolute yumminess! In the center, a steaming cup of Hot Chocolate. Surrounding that, are several compartments packed with goodies including Chocolate Fondue, Banana, Marshmallows, Rice Krispie Treat, Pretzels, and Cookies. It's so freaking good! But, some people may not realize this, but the Finish Line Chocolate is not the only Chocolate to be had. There are yummy Chocolate stations throughout the race giving out M&Ms, Marshmallows and other yummy goodies to keep you going while on the course. It's a Chocolate Adventure from start to finish! 

Is it any wonder I'm excited for this weekend?! I will be at the packet pick up at the Charlotte Convention Center right when it opens at 10:00 am on Friday and will be wearing an Orange BibRave shirt, so, if you see me, be sure to say HI! I'll also be racing in BibRave Orange on race day, so feel free to flag me down there too if you see me! 

**If you are interested in checking out the custom training plans I made, let me know in the comments and I am happy to pass along to anyone. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

#TipTuesday - Easy Speed Work

So on this blog, I mainly post about my own training experiences, how things are going and the occasional review of awesome races and gear. One of my 2019 goals is to mix it up a bit more here and start posting some quick training tips to help other runners out there. So, without further ado... Introducing my very first #TipTuesday! 

I run with several local groups and a question that I hear quite often is: How do I get faster? The irritating short answer is - You run faster by running faster. The slightly longer answer includes training your body to become used to faster speeds by incorporating various forms of speed work into your regular training. The faster you push your run, the more that your body will get used to going faster, and your speed will improve in time. 

There are several different types of speed workouts that can be incorporated into your training. These include intervals, fartleks (fun to say), tempo runs, track work, hills, progressive runs, sprints and I'm sure even more. Today, I wanted to share with you my favorite way to add a bit of speed work into an otherwise regular run. It's a fun trick that I recommend especially for beginners who may be intimidated by traditional speed work. 

First off, let me say, I run with music. Like every run, even those with other people (I wear Aftershokz Trekz Air bone conducting headphones so I can hear everything going on around me - safety first). I typically listen to very upbeat songs while running, either a playlist that I have specifically made, or I will turn to Spotify for running playlists. It's important to mention this because this speed tip requires the use of music. It's part of what makes it fun! I call it - Musical Sprints

Musical Sprints is where you run normally during the verse of a song, but during  the chorus, you run all out, 100% effort. Song choruses typically last between 15 and 30 seconds which is plenty of effort for beginner sprint work. Plus, the chorus is typically repeated 3 or 4 times per song during an average 3 minute song. By running with cues from the music, you are not having to discipline yourself as much as far as keeping track of distances, times or having to set your watch or phone app, which frankly can be complicated. Plus, song choruses can be naturally energizing, especially if you populate your playlists with songs that you love!

Music makes me smile!
Let's do the math. So during a 30 minute run, let's say your listen to 10 songs. Assuming that during the first song you are warming up and do not incorporate sprints, you will sprint along with 9 songs. This gives you about 27 sprint intervals during a 30 minute workout. Not to shabby! And running along to the music makes it way more fun! And anything to make speed work more fun is a big plus in my book.

So, what do you think?  Do Musical Sprints sound fun to you? Do you have any unique or fun things that you incorporate into your training to make it more bearable? Let me know in the comments!