Here we are, early in the new year. You’ve made your resolutions to get fitter, eat healthier, lose weight, and eliminate stress. For many, running a race is an essential part of that plan.
In addition to helping you get healthier, many benefits can be derived from running. Running fires endorphins that make you feel good. Running and preparing for a marathon can improve job performance, boost productivity, increase creativity, and even boost sex drive.
Claim your FREE Sample Pack
I love the experience of running – solitude away from work and kids, exploring new neighborhoods or trails, the smell of crisp air in the fall, the sweetness of flowers in spring, the scent of freshly cut grass, and the sounds of birds singing in the summer. (I smell and hear nothing in winter because for me it’s too cold to run in winter). Overall, though, I get out as much as I can because I believe running is good for the soul.
And whether you’ve set out to do a 5K, conquer a half marathon or marathon, or do something completely crazy like the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run, here are some tips to help you get motivated, train, prepare, and recover so you’ll have a successful race…and a more powerful orgasm.
Tip: For Motivation, Watch Chariots of Fire and Rocky.
You’re sitting on the couch, a glass of wine in hand, pizza polished off. You finally got the kids to sleep and you’re exhausted. You’re trying to find a way to get motivated to get off that sofa and start running. Click on Chariots of Fire, 1981’s Best Picture about two British athletes in the 1924 Olympics – one who runs for the glory of God, and one who runs to overcome prejudice. Or just watch the iconic running on the beach scene set to the glorious notes of Vangelis. You know the song.
Then watch Rocky. Or at least the training montages from Rocky and Rocky 2. When you watch Rocky conquer the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you’ll be ready to run through fire. If you need a more contemporary motivational film, try Brittany Runs a Marathon.
Tip: Don’t skimp on the shoes.
Running works out 26 bones, 33 joints, 112 ligaments, and a network of tendons, nerves, and blood vessels...in the feet alone. You want to make sure those tootsies are as comfortable and well-supported as possible.
The smallest thread sticking out could cause friction throughout a race that would turn your foot into bloody hamburger. The slightest tightness at the toe could rip a toenail right off. A wrong fit could lead to blisters or plantar fasciitis. A shoe that doesn’t provide enough arch support could make your knees throb.
To ensure you get the right shoe and fit for your feet, go to a serious, specialized running store and have someone test your running gait. A knowledgeable salesperson will evaluate your stride and find the correct shoe for you. I go Potomac River Running in Washington, DC. They have you run on a treadmill and make a slow-motion video to examine your gait. Then they find you a shoe from their wide selection that complements it.
I have flat feet, so I always bought shoes that have good arch support, like Brooks Ravenna 7 (better cushioning, support, and flexibility); Hoka One One Vanquish (substantial midsole, maximum cushioning, and good support); and New Balance 860v8 stability running shoes (designed for runners who need support and delivers a stable ride for overpronators).
Or you could abandon all that and try to emulate the Tarahumara, a reclusive tribe of running legends featured in the book Born to Run who basically wear flip-flops with a thin rubber sole and can run forever, like Forrest Gump. But I don’t recommend this.
TIP: Hire a run coach or find a good training program and follow it.
There are many coaches and training programs. Even if you don’t go with a coach, join a running club. There are running groups in almost every community that are free or have minimal costs to join. You can pick up tips from more seasoned runners and often get professional coaching.
There are also many online programs. A popular one is from coach and author Hal Higdon. Higdon offers free and paid interactive training programs for beginners and advanced and everything in between. Many of my running friends have used and benefited from Higdon’s programs.
TIP: Be sure to incorporate recovery into your training.
A typical marathon training period is twenty-two weeks. In that time, a recreational runner will have run a little over 600 miles before getting to the start line. With that kind of mileage, if you don’t take care of your body, you’ll never get there. Here I present you a list of recovery tools and techniques that have gotten me through seven Ironman races.
This is especially true when you’re older. You think you’re still a springy young colt but in fact, you’re more arthritic old cob. There are many things you can do to keep you on the road, however, and help you perform better and recover faster. Such as stretching. Don’t skimp on stretching. Take stretching as seriously as you do the actual running.
It was a revelation when a trainer started stretching me out after workouts. In one session, he had me lie on my back, and he lifted my leg and pushed it toward my chest to stretch the IT band. I didn’t even know what the IT band was, but when he stretched it, it hurt like a mother. But a good hurt. Discover your IT band and embrace the hurt.
To also help increase your flexibility and strength, find a good yoga class -either in person or online. There are many good ones, but my favorite is Sarah Beth Yoga. When I started, I hadn’t realized how tight I was. My back, neck, hamstrings, and quads were guitar strings in danger of snapping the moment I strummed my first power chord. A fifteen or twenty-minute daily yoga session does wonders to keep me more pliable.
Another recovery tool to pull from the toolbox is taking ice baths after long runs. I hate ice baths. They’re awful. But also amazing, as they soothe sore muscles and tendons and reduce inflammation.
Foam rolling is also essential. It’s like giving yourself a deep tissue massage. I use the TriggerPoint GRID STK Handheld Foam Roller – a twenty-one-inch-long knobby orange stick that you can roll on sore quads and calves after a run.
It was designed to replicate the pressure of a massage therapist’s thumb and channel blood and oxygen directly to muscle tissue. You can feel the knots dissolving as you grind away, working out tightness and tension.
Another great way to massage muscles is with a percussion massage device, such as a Hypervolt or Theragun. These work by “floating” the “gun” or attachment head along your muscles, lingering over tension trouble spots for a few minutes.
It’s like a high-speed meat tenderizer. You can use it before a workout to activate or “wake up” your muscles, and then float or roll it over sore muscles for a few minutes after a workout to decrease aches and discomfort.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to these higher-priced gadgets, go to Home Depot or Amazon and buy the Black & Decker WP900 Random Orbit Waxer/Polisher. It is a power waxer designed for cars and boats that works shockingly well as a hand-held massager. For $28.69, it could be the best training recovery investment you ever make. I’m serious.
SummaTape: CBD-Infused Kinesiology Tape
SummaTape, is SummaForte’s lightweight, stretchable kinesiology tape that reinforces and rehabilitates muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons. Unlike other kinesiology tapes, SummaTape delivers CBD and menthol through the skin, providing a cooling sensation and a triple anti-inflammatory effect. The menthol stimulates blood flow to inflamed areas and improves circulation to heal injuries. This tape has been a godsend and has helped relieve my toughest muscle aches and discomfort.
SummaRest: Natural, Healthy Sleep Featuring CBN
One of the most important recovery tools is a good night’s sleep.
As any athlete knows, a good night’s sleep is essential for performance, muscle repair, and recovery. In addition, low-quality sleep can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels cause slower recovery, fatigue, poor focus, and weight gain. Lack of sleep is linked to decreased production of glycogen and carbohydrates stored for energy during physical activity.
I use SummaForte’s SummaRest – a melatonin-free, all-natural sleep aid that features CBN, a cannabinoid with great restorative sleep benefits – to help me fall asleep fast and sleep soundly through the night.
TIP: Don’t forget to dial in nutrition before and during the race.
Another key to boosting your race performance – not to mention losing the love handles and improving your overall well-being and day-to-day energy – is cutting out alcohol, processed ingredients, additives, sweeteners, and sugar.
I hired a certified nutrition coach once to help me slim down and improve my muscle quality and she taught me the value of eating a more natural, whole-food diet with a balance of lots of veggies, like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and spinach; good fats, like nuts, seeds, virgin olive oil, and coconut; and lean proteins, like chicken and fish.
Seek out foods that counter that silent and secret killer: inflammation. My smoothies are jugs of free-radical-sucking goodness, filled with every possible anti-inflammatory ingredient—blueberries, blackberries, cherries, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cocoa powder, beet powder, spinach, and broccoli.
I also cut out all those evil foods that I adore so much that cause inflammation—sugar, white bread, MSG, soda, processed meats, cookies, ice cream, beer, and wine. Well, cut down, if I’m being honest. I’m not a Tibetan monk.
SummaMix: CBD-Infused Drink Mix With Nootropic & Lutein
I’ve added SummaMix, another great SummaForte product, to my nutrition routine to enhance and improve my vision, focus, and mental health. It’s a delicious daily drink mix with premium, award-winning CBD, a nootropic called Neumentix™, and lutein called FloraGLO® – the gold standard for cognitive and vision health.
SummaMix uses a process technology that brings the nutrients to the body more efficiently and effectively, ensuring faster onset and higher bio-absorption – up to 475% higher – than most other brands. Recently SummaMix became one of the only CBD products to be “NSF Certified for Sport®”, a safety certification relied on by many professional sports leagues to allow their players to use supplements.
So those are some tips for everyday nutrition. When it comes to the days leading up to a race, and race day itself, there are other important considerations you must follow.
Contrary to popular belief, don’t gorge yourself the morning of the race. Have a big lunch and a sensible dinner the day before the race. The morning of the race, keep it simple and light. A bowl of oatmeal, a complex carbohydrate that breaks down slowly, is a good option to get you through the race.
Running an endurance race like a marathon can be torture on your gastrointestinal system, and a full range of GI distress—everything from minor stomach discomfort and bloating to full-on diarrhea and/or vomiting— is available to you.
This is an especially likely outcome if you eat and drink too much before and during the race, or if you eat foods that are too difficult to digest. The body cannot tolerate what it usually can in your normal eating activities, and the rule of thumb is the more you take in, the more likely it will come out in ways you don’t want.
It's important to train your gut for race day. Find out what works for you during training BEFORE the race, whether that is gels, stingers, a specific flavor of Gatorade, or gummies. I recommend gels because they give you the energy you need and are easy to digest.
DURING THE RACE
Tip: if you’re running a marathon, Band-Aid or lubricate your nipples.
In addition to witnessing vomiting caused by poor eating choices, it is not uncommon to see runners with bloody shirts. This happens when they forget to lubricate or put a preemptive Band-Aid on their nipples, and the friction from the jostling shirt over the course of twenty-six miles shreds those sensitive little appendages.
TIP: Wear compression socks and pants.
Wear compression socks and pants. Your calves and quads will thank you the next few days. Profusely.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to use the aid stations.
It’s better to be humble and walk before you have to. For me, each aid station is often like a beacon to a sailor lost at sea in a storm. Who am I kidding? For me, every Ironman marathon has really been just a shuffle from one aid stop to the next.
And while you’re at the aid stations, always take a couple of ice-water-soaked sponges if available. Stick them under the collar of your shirt at the back of your neck. If the sponges aren’t available, take a cup of ice and pour it down your shirt. Wear a hat or visor during the run so you can also keep ice and ice-water sponges on your head. This will keep you cool during hot weather.
TIP: Find a friend
A friend running alongside you can distract you or help motivate or pace you. A good conversation can make the time go by easier and help you forget temporarily about your aches.
No, not alcohol. Water or electrolyte drinks. On a warm day, an athlete will lose fluid through sweat. Make sure you’re replacing that fluid by drinking enough water and sports drink or you’ll become dehydrated and end up sitting dazed on the side of the road. I recommend Gatorade Endurance Formula. Per my previous tip, I also recommend you use it during training to get your stomach acclimated to it.
TIP: Don’t Bonk
If you feel you are hitting the proverbial wall and about to bonk, stop and eat some simple carbohydrates that can be rapidly absorbed. The best sources are sugary drinks such as sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade, fruit juice, or an energy gel washed down with lots of water to get it into your bloodstream quickly. Energy bars and solid foods are full of complex carbohydrates and take longer to process, so they are less helpful during a bonk.
Tip: Celebrate your Accomplishment.
Only 0.5 percent of the United States population has run a marathon. That’s because they’re hard. You take about 33,000 steps in a marathon. Toward the end, you’ll feel every one of them. Common injuries experienced by runners are IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, runner’s knee, shin splints, and Achilles tendinitis.
If you manage to fight through all these maladies and finish your race happy and healthy, sing about your accomplishment from the mountaintops. You put in the work. You did something hard. Pat yourself on the back and get ready to train for the next one. Because there always will be a next one, even when – especially when – you say you’ll never do that again.