The first few days of beautiful weather are always a bit of a wake up call for me; it’s time to get back into shape. Spring and summer mean a few things: bathing suit season, more time spent outdoors and if you’re a runner, race season.
Last year I took the season off from running and races after training for the Chicago Marathon for two years in a row but San Francisco’s perfect running weather has me feeling the urge to register for a race once again. In case you’ve got a spring race of your own on the calendar or are thinking about taking the plunge and tackling your first race, from a 5K to a half marathon, I’ve teamed up with Athleta to share some tips for spring race training from their Senior Manager of Product Innovation, Tracy Byrnes.
A little Q&A with Tracy:
When shopping for new race training gear, what are the most important things to look for?
It’s always important to first ask yourself a few key questions about the environment you will be training in to help you select the appropriate gear. What will the weather be like? Will you be indoors or out? Both? Morning, daytime or evening training?
For example if you are training outdoors in dawn and dusk, make sure you have apparel that has reflectivity.
Since you will be doing a lot of training, here are a few features to look for in products. Consider apparel with Unstinkable anti-odor technology. You can wear it multiple times without it stinking. This means less laundry and more time training or recovering. Also, bulky seams or seams in high friction areas will cause chafing, so look for gear with flat seams or even seamless styles. And pockets are great! Do you carry your phone? Key? Credit Card? Cash? Having a zippered pocket on your run tight can create a little storage space for your must-haves.
What are some of your favorite pieces for spring running?
I love our Floral Fade Sonar Capri! Its compressive fabric holds my muscles in place and gives me the support I like, plus it’s so cute! And I’m a big fan of our Fastest Track tops for their Unstinkable technology and the array of colors they come in. I have multiple colors that match my shoes for a fun look. Lastly, I love to top things off with the BoCo Technical Trucker Hat. It shades my face from the sun and keeps sweat away with a built-in sweatband.
What is your favorite race distance?
I love the half marathon and marathon. I feel most accomplished after the marathon, but I love pushing the speed in a half marathon.
Any favorite race memories?
Most of my favorite race memories are from the Boston Marathon. Each time it’s different, but incredibly special. I love how the people of Boston turn out in mass numbers to support this race and it’s not just at the finish line area – they line the entire course. There are toddlers and grandmothers cheering for you. They give you energy when yours is fading. The energy at Wellesley College is unlike anything else; you can hear them cheering from a mile away! One year I high-fived every kid along the race course and used that energy for a marathon PR the first time I ran it. My arm was so sore the next day from leaning down to high five, but it was worth it!
What advice would you give to new runners training for their first race?
There are so many things to take into account when training for a marathon and it can be overwhelming to navigate them all. The most important thing is to have a training plan. You can find one on the internet, work with a coach, or train with a team. At the end of the day – you need to schedule your workouts into your day. Unless you have run numerous marathons and have solid endurance training, stick to the plan. Also – think Quality over Quantity. Focus while you are out there.
Also, KNOW your motivation – WHY are you doing this? You will need to remember this when the little demons show up in your race. You WILL question this during the race. I can recall numerous times thinking about how I could be eating pancakes with friends instead of pushing through at mile 21. Also – tell your friends to track you on the marathon website page. Knowing people are watching you keeps you motivated and pushing through to the finish line and not the pancake house.
Thank you to Tracy for sharing her expertise on all things race training and to Athleta for adding some fun to my workout wardrobe with these amazing training pieces. Some other favorites from Athleta:
Anyone training for a spring race? Do any of my SF readers have a favorite Bay Area race that I should check out (maybe with not a ton of hills ;))?