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Kris Whorton’s Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race “Pep Talk”

testIMG_0732In preparation for the Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race, Rock/Creek Race Team member and 2009 Female Masters 100 Mile champion Kris Whorton takes a few moments to talk participants through a multi-day trail running race from preparation, completion, to recovery.

Physical Training:

Depending on the length of the event, you want to try to simulate the conditions you’ll be running in, especially duration (both distances and number of days), and speed. Plan to do several three day back to back runs to be mentally and physically prepared. Your longer preparation runs should be no more than 30% shorter than the actual distances you will run. You will, of course, be more mentally prepared if you run the distances you will be running in the event. Additionally, you should know what foods and drinks work for you while running as well as before and after. The distances for the Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race are short enough that you should be able to pull through if you run into issues with foods and fluids. Still, it is best to bring what you need and carry it with you.
Don’t surprise your system and don’t leave anything that you can control to chance.
Mental Training:
As with any event, focus on what has gone well in your training and practice positive mental self-talk. Learn to stay present in your run rather than thinking about what remains. This will serve you well when you are only 10 miles into day one,15 miles into day two, or 5 miles into day three. If you’ve done the physical training then you have to be able to count on your mind. It can convince you to quit when there is no reason to except fatigue or the daunting fact of miles or hours remaining. Repeatedly tell yourself you feel strong, you feel fresh, your training is solid, you are enjoying the day. Don’t focus on anything that isn’t positive. The trails will be difficult but you are ready for them. It will be hot but you love the heat and run well in it. If your stomach starts to turn on you, tell yourself you feel good.
Another tactic is to smile or even force yourself to laugh when you are really feeling bad, and then you will start smiling or laughing at the thought that you are smiling or laughing when you feel terrible. It sounds crazy but it works.
Pre-race week:
Don’t attempt to “carbo load” the week going into the event, or “really” hydrate, or “load up” on salt. Approach the event like it is a marathon or a 50k and do the things you would normally do. Eat well, drink, sleep. Run what you feel like but definitely on the light side (M – 4, T- 3, W – 4, Th- 0, F – day 1 of event).
Each day’s approach:
Eat some breakfast, something you are used to, and give yourself time to digest enough that you won’t have stomach problems. You typically need about 3 hours; if you don’t have 3 hours, go ultra light on pre-race food and start taking in calories early in the event. Do what you would for a marathon or 50k.
Approach the start line with the idea that you are running the first part of a race and you must pace yourself accordingly. Don’t go out too fast since you don’t want to stress your body too much. Be mindful of food, fluids, and electrolytes over the course of the run. Be mindful of the toll of the miles, and the heat.
DSC03928Each day’s completion:
Be sure to have a recovery drink of choice and a snack in your car. We’ll have some food at the end but it’s best to go with what you are used to and supplement it with what we have. Your body will recover and be better prepared for the next day if it isn’t shocked with food it isn’t used to. You’ll want a small amount of food and plenty of fluids, enough to get you off the mountain to your hotel or home where you can get a shower, get horizontal with your feet up, and then eat and drink some more. It is critical that you eat and drink and rest. Plan on your snack and a very light meal immediately following your run and then have something again before 7:00. Soak in a tub with Epsom salts. Get a good night’s sleep.
Preparation for next day:
At the end of each day, get to your hotel and get your feet up. You must rest. Each day will be challenging (mentally and physically) in this event but each day you will know that you are closer to being done.
Recovery (the week after):
If you were properly trained and have no significant soreness, resume your running schedule. The stage race shouldn’t represent any kind of upset. If you are sore or overly tired, scale back for a week or two.

Challenges:

Food –You may experience a loss of appetite during or after each stage, but you must eat and drink – you will have a significantly more difficult time finishing all three days if you don’t replenish your fuel stores.
Chaffing/blisters – Wear shorts, shirts, bras that discourage chafing, and shoes and socks that you know will work for you. Lube up! Wear sunscreen, a hat, glasses. Bring all the things you need and normally use on a long run.
Mental recharging – At the end of the day, focus on what went well and what you plan to do the next day. Do not think about what didn’t go well, unless you are planning to eat more, drink more (do some small adjustment to improve your run). Feel free to take time in the days following the event to consider what you will do differently next time, but until you are completely done, maintain a positive outlook and stay present. Don’t think about the next stage until you are in it. What this means is don’t run day one and think, “How am I going to do this for two more days?” Instead, tell yourself that you are doing great and you are enjoying the day and the course you are running.

DON’T DO ANYTHING NEW!!!


Benefits: Increased strength and confidence. A powerful sense of accomplishment!

Thank you Kris. Rock/Creek wishes everyone a safe preparation time this week and we will see all race participants bright and early on Friday, June 19.