NATIONAL RUNNING DAY! Prepping for your first run race!

Pre-Sea Wheeze 1/2 Marathon in Vancouver, 2014!

Pre-Sea Wheeze 1/2 Marathon in Vancouver, 2014!


In honour of yesterdays National Running Day! I thought today would be as good a day as any to address some of the most common questions (yes, even the awkward ones) I get asked from clients and friends that are preparing for their first ever run race!

QUESTION #1: Should I keep my training up the week before the race?

The week before your race is considered your TAPER time, when you scale back your training (though not entirely) and you focus on rest and rejuvenation. Your last longest run will be 2 weeks before your race ideally, keeping up your normal distances until the Sunday before the race where you run 1/2-2/3rds your race distance. The rest of the week you stick with relatively low mileage and no high intensity work. A ‘cheeky’ morning run (2-5kms) the Saturday morning before a race is a great way to ease nerves.

QUESTION #2: My training load has decreased and my anxiety has increased! What do I do?!

First of all realize that A) you are not the only one experiencing panic this week, B) you are ready- trust all of the training you have done leading up to this week and relax. I always tell people to be extra mindful of their sleep this week, get in as much as you can. No one sleeps well the night before a race so don’t count on catching major ZZZ’s Saturday, rest lots the week before so that you aren’t going into Saturday feeling exhausted already. You will get such an awesome high on race morning and when you cross that finish line the lack of sleep the night before won’t be an issue :).

QUESTION #3: When do I start keeping an eye on my hydration?

Ideally this is something that is top of mind for you throughout all of your training, but during the week before a race its important to definitely focus on getting in that H2O. If you are thirsty you are all ready dehydrated, so just keep that water bottle on you at all times and take small sips throughout your day. Your pee should be a light straw colour and not clear (too hydrated)  or bright yellow (dehydrated). I usually slip in some extra electrolytes into 1 of my bottles on Friday and Saturday or have a couple coconut waters instead of normal water for the added potassium. Basically, you don’t want to start hydrating on Saturday, keep it a focus all week and you will be fine.

QUESTION #4: What do I eat the week before? The day before? Day of?

This question is definitely a big one and one I plan to dig into it more in another blog. The main thing to remember is that your training load has decreased this week so no need to really eat ‘more’ rather just continue to eat the same amount, the glycogen stays in your muscles until you exercise. I tend to add on some extra carbs but sticking for the most part to my normal plan. For example if you start eating a bunch of fruit as your carb source you could end up with diarrhea.

My day before meal plan is big breakfast, medium lunch and small dinner. I never eat a big meal the night before a race, and I keep things simple- whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce for lunch, so I have ample time to digest as well I find that my nerves are a lot less intense and my stomach has time to settle before bed. Dinner is always on the lighter side and early in the evening to assist with a good nights sleep.  I could go on and on here…. The biggest thing, don’t drastically change anything, and avoid any heavy, rich foods that could cause stomach issues.

Same applies for race day nutrition, make sure breakfast is at least 2 hours before your race no less, 4 being the optimal. Stick with what you know works for your body and keep it heavier on the carbs. A good article that goes more in depth on morning nutrition for a race can be found HERE. During the race don’t put anything in your body, gels in particular, that you aren’t used to. Research before your race what will be served at the stations and either train with that product or be prepared to pack your own.

QUESTION #5: What if I have an upset stomach during the race or have to pee?

My golden rule race morning- pee when I get to the race start, do my warm up then line up again. A small sip of water after my final pee and then Im usually good. There will be bathrooms along the route usually at every water station. Stashing a couple sanitary wipes in your race belt, and some toilet paper is a good idea because especially at a bigger race the bathrooms run out of TP and sanitizer quickly. Not to mention if you have to jump in a bush you are prepared- and yes this does happen. (Refer to Question #4 and why we don’t mess with our nutrition to hopefully prevent stomach issues).

QUESTION #6: What do I wear on race day?

Wear what you have been training in, you know it works, you’ve tested it on long runs you know where it might chafe you so you can lube up in all the right places. As tempting as it is to get a flashy new outfit, shirt or bright new socks, this can end up being the source of serious discomfort on race day. Think brand new socks and blistered feet, or underarm chaffing from a new tank top- in this case the function beats out fashion every time.

QUESTION #7: Can I have a beer/ glass of wine the night before the race?

You bet! Can you have 5? Probably a bad idea. Personally I always have a small drink with my dinner the night before a race. I find that it helps me relax slightly and also helps me fall asleep, I have dinner usually around 5pm so its more than enough time for me to keep hydrating etc, and is not going to hinder my performance the next day.

Prepping for a race can be daunting especially your first. My best advice is to remember that there is no such thing as a stupid question and to remember that everyone at every race has had a ‘first’ race, and has had all the same hesitations and questions you have so ask away!

Training For Your First Triathlon: Blog 2: Gear and Training.

This is the second blog in a series on ‘Training For Your First Triathlon’.  If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them. If you are looking for more information or a triathlon training program feel free to email:

2013-07-07 12.04.58So here we go! You have picked a race, you have found a program. Now all you have to do is start training! Or so it seems. When I first started to train for triathlons I always hated that feeling that I was missing something. It seemed like everyone else knew exactly what they needed and how to follow their plan and here I was in the dark trying to swim, bike and run my way out of it. I understood that I needed to train, but other than that it all seemed a bit overwhelming. In this blog I’d like to cover a couple things that will hopefully make starting your program and the lead to race day seem less of a scramble in the dark. The two main pieces I will focus on today are the gear portion and the training portion of each discipline. There’s a lot too both of these aspects so its a bit of a longer blog- I tried to cover as much as I could, but as usual feel free to ask ANY questions!


This can get expensive fast if you start worrying about needing all the top of the line gear, or start asking advice from too many people. One thing I learned quickly is that everyone in triathlon (as most are type A’s) have  a preference for everything being ‘the best’. The fact of the matter is, if this is your first stab at this type of race there is NO need to lose sleep over your gear. I’ll break it down for you below.


Each discipline requires some time, the biggest thing is to make sure that you have scheduled in your sessions accordingly so that you can give them the time that they need. I will give some extra tips below on extra things you can do to help with your confidence in each one.

Swim+trainingSwim Training:

This will mostly be all in the pool unless your chosen race happens to have an open water component- which I will cover next. Regardless the brunt of your training will be in the pool.

What you need to get started:

  • Swimsuit
  • Goggles

Most pools will have extra pieces of equipment such as boards, pull-buoys and sometimes even flippers. Depending on the distance you are training for, the most important thing is to just be comfortable in the water and with your distance, focus on smooth solid movements and not going as fast as you can, the speed will come. If you are super new to swimming- find some swimming lessons or a drop in swim group that you can join. There are also a lot of coaches that you can hire to watch you once a month and tweak your form.

0796_011248Open Water Swim:

What you need:

  • Wetsuit
  • Neoprene Cap

First things first with an open water swim- make sure you check a past race package, usually found on the race web site for their wet suit guidelines. Either that or email the race directly. Some open water races do not require a full wetsuit with sleeves, and in some the water is warm enough that you don’t even need one and/or that it would be illegal to wear one. The benefit of a wetsuit in an open water swim is that it makes you more buoyant, the downside is that it takes some getting used to. In some cases the water is cold enough that you may want a neoprene cap to keep your head warm, you can also just double up your swim cap as well.

To train for the open water swim, I suggest keeping an eye out for any clinics that the race may be putting on. If they aren’t no worries- just make sure that you make it a priority to get in the open water to practice. Always have someone there to keep an eye out for you whether on the beach or in the water. Take your time with it. The hardest part to the open water swim is going to be spotting, there are some great youtube videos that demo this as well. I’ll cover this more in a later blog- but for now just focus on that pool and getting comfortable with the swim in general.

Bike Training:

What you need to get started:

  • A bike
  • An indoor bike trainer*
  • A helmut
    • Cycling Shoes*
  • Triathlon Shorts

*I put a star beside these pieces because they aren’t always necessary, I’ll explain below.

T2500_Tacx_Booster_Back_1206_blacklogosA lot of the equipment for the bike will again depend on the distance of race you are doing. If you are doing a sprint, and I would argue even your first Olympic distance, you should be fine on ‘spin-style’ stationary bike for the majority of your training. For the half-iron distance and Ironman distance, you will want to get used to your bike because you are going to spend a lot of time on it during your race not to mention your training time so an indoor trainer is a good investment. There are different types, and I would suggest a Magnetic Trainer (it simulates an outdoor ride better). Fluid trainers a less expensive and also a really great option.

As for the actual bike you will use to race, find one that your are comfortable on. Don’t worry too much about shelling out major bucks, especially for a shorter race. Do take the time to make sure the bike you are riding fits you properly, many cycling stores offer bike ‘fit-sessions’, these are especially important for those doing anything longer than a sprint. A lot of cycling stores can get you set up relatively comfortable. A road bike is a great option to start out on, and you can add aero bars to it (the bars that stick straight out in front). That way if you decide triathlon isn’t your thing you’re not stuck with a Triathlon specific bike or ‘TT’ bike that you can’t use again. There are a lot of places that will rent bikes by the week, which is a good option if you just need it for a quick race.

Cycling shoes are to the bike what the wetsuit is to the open water swim. The advantage to them is that you are able to get a much more controlled and efficient pedal stroke, the downside is that if you are not used to wearing them they can be a bit awkward and even a bit scary when you first try them out on your bike on the open road. My advice in this case- for a sprint or Olympic distance- if you are not comfortable with them, and don’t feel like you’ve had enough practice don’t worry. For a half- Ironman or more- practice, practice, practice- you don’t want to ride 90Km+ without being clipped in, trust me.

A note about the triathlon shorts- these are different than cycling shorts- they tend to be a bit shorter and have less padding. The little bit of padding is definitely better than no padding and they take no time at all to slip over a swimsuit before you head out of the pool in a pool swim. And during an open water swim race they are necessary as you need to have something under your wetsuit when you take it off in transition- nakedness in transition is frowned upon 😉

Make sure for your actual training for the bike that you are taking the necessary time in the saddle, this is where you spend the majority of your time during a race and should be where you spend the majority of your time training. Not to mention your time on the bike will also help with your run training by building us different muscles in your legs and helping build power.

Run Training:

What you need:

  • Runners

I love running for its simplicity. Pop on your runners and just go! The biggest thing here is your main piece of equipment, your shoes. Take the time to have a gait analysis done at a local running store and find the pair of shoes that works for you. Test them out on a treadmill or track before taking them outside, be sure that these shoes are the ones that will work best for you.

Make sure that you don’t wuss out on those speed workouts, I say this because I have a tendency to do so once an awhile, even though I know better. Those focused speed workouts, hill repeats, fartleks, they are so important to helping you become a more efficient runner. Use your long runs as recovery, take them SLOW and just let your body get used to the distance.

Brick Workouts!

These are workouts that we perform 2 or more of our training sessions back to back to simulate race day. The toughest being the transition from Bike to Run. Don’t underestimate the power of hopping off your bike and going for a 20min run, its so important for your body and your mind to feel what it is going to feel like to hop off with legs feeling like jello and start pounding them on the pavement- Yes, this is what I call fun.

Alright- we have covered a ton of information here, and yes there is still lots to come. But the biggest thing to keep in mind is to get started on that training. A couple half hour sessions here and there can make a huge difference, don’t wait to get the best bike, trainer, and coolest coloured  runners. Get in the pool, get a feel for it- Hop on a bike at a spin class- go for a light jog. Just start. Tomorrow you will wish you had started today. It will all come together, just get going.

Still to come in future blogs in this series: Nutrition while training, electronics, prepping for race day, race day. If there is anything you would like me to include, send me an email I’d love to hear from you and also help you navigate this awesome sport!