Monday, July 9, 2012

Racing Events Primer, Volume II

Run Lawyer Run!

So you’ve mastered the 5k and the 10k. You’ve just improved your odds of outrunning large predatory mammals and angry clients. What’s next?

Longer Road Races

It may not seem like it, but eventually you might reach a point where 30 minutes of running just isn’t enough anymore. And you might as well get used to running anyway, because it’ll be the preferred method of travel once oil reaches $700 a barrel.

If you look around, you’ll notice countless miles of paved roads and sidewalks. These graded highways provide the setting for longer races of all distances, with the most common being 8 miles, 10 miles, and the coveted half-marathon. (Side note: a growing contingent of runners are advocating the use of the term “21k” for a 13.1 mile race, arguing that the “half-“ prefix is subtly disparaging and a 5k isn’t called a “half-10k.” These people need to chill out.)

Running longer distances is a sizeable commitment. Once you approach the one-hour threshold, hydration and nutrition become a greater concern and “bonking” (the shuffling, depleted-energy feeling common among the walking dead) is more likely. Many runners, bless their dorky little hearts, carry hydration belts and energy gel packets for these distances. Though purists will scoff at such luxuries, purists will often pass out two or three miles from the finish line. An easy-to-remember guideline, should you choose to carry Gatorade and Gu, is to ingest 100 calories after every hour of running.

Suit wisely.
Suit wisely.
Another issue with longer races is changing weather conditions. It’s not uncommon for the temp to increase as much as 10 degrees from gun to tape, and precipitation can be a cause for relief or discomfort, depending on how you’re dressed. Running in wet shorts for 25 minutes is one thing… running in wet shorts for an hour and 25 minutes is something totally different. As you can see, success favors the prepared, or however that saying goes.

Although half-marathons are becoming more popular (even bordering on “trendy”), competitive races from 8 to 13 miles are relatively few and far between. As such, there is more incentive to do well, since you get only one or two shots per season. This, in turn, means that a lot of your fellow racers are going to take the event pretty seriously. Just try to tune out the free-floating anxiety and enjoy the run. Unlike the majority of CLE courses, this will be one to two hours well spent.

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