Fitness Training and Obstacle Racing

Race Day Preparation – Thunder Bay Mudslinger

It’s race day! I completed a 30 min easy run to start the day (somewhere in the 5.4km area) with my heart rate under 150 to ensure I kept warm and loose and didn’t challenge my anaerobic system (which will come later tonight). My calves are still adjusting to the change in running stride and I think I’ll be going to a heel tap run for my race tonight or I’m not going to be able to pull off the speed that I might need to do well. Since the race isn’t until 6:30pm running seemed like a good opportunity to shake out some tight muscles.

Yesterday I took it easy more because I kept busy and less because I didn’t think I should run. It rained all day anyway so I didn’t feel overly enticed to run. The feature image is from Tuesday when I went out for a run with my wife Chris and planned to do 30 minutes but ended up doing 90 minutes. It should have been a nice easy run (although it turned out to be a great easy paced run, the time turned out to be longer than I wanted). Despite the length I had a great time. The 30 minutes turned into 90 minutes because we kept getting turned around in the confusing Kamview trail system. There were intersections with rectangular signs and no arrows telling us that indeed one of the trails went to where we wanted to go, but no indication of what trail that might be. In the confusion we ran and ran some more. Finally we ended up at the lookout and took a picture of the map posted at the lookout and found our way around and out. I seem to have recovered fine from the run (and nailed over 50 minutes on a trail without my knee giving me problems – bonus) and I’m ready to race.

A pre-race plan can be crucial to your success in a race. The first thing you want to do is decide how important the race is to you, so you know how to plan for it. You can rate your races on a scale of 1,2,3 or A,B,C (1 being very important – primary race and 3 being not overly important, just a fun training run). In the number scheme I’m rating this race a 3. It’s not overly important so I’m not going into great trouble to be race ready (I wouldn’t have run 90 minutes even accidentally if this race ranked a 1 to me).

But I do want to do well so there are factors I want to take into consideration. First is the length of the race. Given it’s only a 6km race, that means it’s going to be really fast. I would expect to finish somewhere in the 30 – 40 minute range depending on how hard the mud obstacles are. This is not my preferred type of race because I’m large enough to handle some tough obstacles and this race is all about running – one of my OCR racing weaknesses that I’m working on as a priority.

With such a short race I want to make sure I take in a few hundred ml of water leading up to the race so I’m well hydrated to start. I won’t be running with water because it’s too short of a race to lose performance based on hydration during the race. I’m either going to be hydrated properly or I’m not.

I’m going to eat a high glycemic food to top off my energy stores in the mid-afternoon. But in a short race like this I’m not expecting to need fuel en-route. I’ll be properly fueled for the race knowing I’ve eaten about 60% carbs on the day (low glycemic in the morning and high glycemic in the afternoon as a prerace meal). Post race will depend on the kids (and my son James and their cousins are running the 3km today). I expect my recovery food to be of the ice cream variety, mixed with a glass of wine and perhaps a slice of pizza (this you can get away with if you’re racing and not trying to lose weight).

Given the speed of this race I plan to race in my high zone 3 anaerobic threshold. This is the threshold at which I should be able to sustain for the race (20 – 40 minutes theoretically) and is roughly in the 176 – 179 heart rate area. I will be running with my heart rate monitor for the race to see it on Strava later and to sneak a peak at my watch once in a while. Since it’s a trail run I can’t use run pace as an indicator of what speed I can sustain so heart rate is the only option. However I do need to account for the first couple of km’s and not gassing myself out. I believe in running my own best race and that means feeling it out based on what I know about my body especially at the start of the race. It’s a two 3km loop so I know it will probably take nearly one loop to get warmed up (which is why I prefer the longer endurance races – I’m only just getting started at 6km’s).

I have no idea of what my competition might look like heading into the race. I could kill the field or I could be far behind. There are some incredible athletes in the area so it depends on who shows up for the race. Anything could happen. All I know is that I’m going to have fun and run the best race that I can. It’s all I can ask of myself and my body. If I’m not having fun, what am I doing? I’ll be posting a follow-up after the race.

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