Race Prep Learned the Hard Way
It’s probably a good thing I started racing when I lived in Florida because I hate being cold. I’m not sure I would have continued racing if my first one had been on a cold, miserable, day. My first race outside of Florida was just one of those days. October 2012, Tough Mudder in Tooele, Utah. Horrible. It’s the first time I’ve felt hypothermia. Never wanted to feel it again, but I was pretty close on day two of the Colorado Spartan Sprint last weekend. Unfortunately, those are the only two races I’ve talked my sisters, Valerie and Alison, into racing with me. Maybe it’s them. Maybe they bring the clouds. Hmmm.
Anyway, I’ve learned that for me, temperature is my biggest obstacle. I slow down when I get too hot, and I slow down when I get too cold. Every time I’ve been miserable, including the two races I talked about above, it was because of improper preparation or from wearing the wrong clothing. I try to be prepared, but I seem to be one of those people who has to learn things the hard way. I wanted to share some of those things.
Cold Weather: There is a huge difference between clothing made for the cold and for the heat. Invest in some good cold weather gear if there is even a remote chance of your race being cold. I prefer Under Armour cold gear. It has worked great for me in Spartan races where temps were in the 40’s and 50’s. For the Tough Mudder I wore CW-X compression capris which I love. I found out later they were made for hot weather to keep you cool. They worked! I now keep cold gear in my race bag just in case. (Except for day two of Colorado. Forgot that day and the temperature unexpectedly dropped 20 degrees.)
Hot Weather: Wear as little clothing as possible. Don’t wear cotton or a black shirt. Eat a lot of salt leading up to the race so you retain water, bring fuel and water, wear a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. And if you know you’re going to be running in a hot race, train in the heat, not in an air conditioned gym.
Shoes: The first shoes I wore to an OCR were Nike Shox. Bad! Felt like bricks on my feet. I’ve gone through three types of shoes since and have been super happy with my Inov-8 X-Talons. I’ve heard they’re great for people with low arches and wide feet who have worked down to a minimalist shoe. Me! Everyone needs to find the right shoe for them. But keep in mind that pretty much every athlete that runs, no matter what sport, wears cleats. We can’t wear cleats, but take a look at the nubs on the bottom of the X-Talons some time. They grip everything. If you don’t want Inov-8’s find something similar. I see so many people sliding down hills at these races in their old tennis shoes or Vibram five fingers.
Sunglasses: I wear contacts. I wear them to every race. They’re fine but I’ve found that if I wear sunglasses my eyes don’t water as much in the sun or dry out in the wind and it helps keep mud out of my eyes. I wear super cheap safety glasses that I buy in bulk online for $3 each so I don’t cry if I lose them.
Race bag: My bag seems to be getting heavier each race. What do I take to the race? Cold gear; sunglasses; hat; 2 towels; 2 garbage bags, one to stand on while changing and one to put my muddy clothes in; a change of clothes including bra and underwear (I’ve forgotten many times); shoes and socks if cold, flip-flops if warm; layers of outerwear including a hoodie to wear after the race; pre-race and post-race fuel and electrolytes; baby wipes; eye drops and extra contacts; feminine products (hopefully you won’t have to race during that time of the month, but you probably will!); duct tape (I like to secure my timing chip. I lost it once, and two of my teammates lost theirs in Colorado); hand warmers and gloves for before and after the race just in case; cash for parking/shuttle, bag check, food and gear; and my ID.
I know as we get into the summer months, we won’t need all the cold weather gear. The weather is so unpredictable though. I just saw a picture of a Tough Mudder in Canada where it was snowing. In the middle of May. It snowed here in Utah on May 1st. I’m not in Florida anymore!
And thanks for doing Colorado with me Valerie and Alison. Love you! Just bring the sunshine next time.