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The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race: Lesson 4

The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race
The Tales and Lamentations of the Ill-Prepared Runner


May 13, 2013 by Chad Baird

UPDATE – January 13, 2014: I wanted to share with everyone the before and after photos of me doing this race! Happy running!

Lesson 4 – Dress for the Weather

Sometimes living in Calgary is tough! The weather is often cold and unpredictable. In turn, this causes every Calgarian runner to shake their fists at the sky occasionally throughout their lifetime. To properly explain this concept, I shall be explaining my tales and lamentations regarding the 2010 Mother’s Day 10km race. It was a frosty morning. I woke up, looked and fully expected to see a stray reindeer or two. I decided to put on five layers of clothing for my upcoming race. I put on a wool long sleeve, three short sleeve cotton t-shirts, and a warm hoodie. I was set! The cold had no chance against my defence! No chance! Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that overheating had an excellent chance of breaking the defense system…but I didn’t even think about that. I got to the start line and it had warmed up to about zero Celsius but it had begun snowing. Through the fresh falling snow, I saw a guy in front of me wearing nothing more than shorts and a sleeveless shirt. I thought to myself, “This guy is so dumb! He will be so cold!” Negative, this guy was exponentially more enlightened about running races that I was. I started the race and within 500 metres, I could already tell that I was getting way too hot. By 3 kilometres, I standing at the aid station dumping cold water down my back and legs. 5 km in, I had my sweater tied around my waist, old granny style, looking fashionable as ever with my sweater tie swag and a beet red face. At 7km, I had my hoodie still around my waist – and was now carrying three shirts. You know what makes running a race easier? Not carrying a couch cushion sized ball of your extra clothes that you brought along with you for the ride. I continued huffing and puffing down the road, physically steaming because I was so overheated. A person could have cracked an egg on my head and 14 seconds later, enjoyed a fine omelette breakfast because I was as hot as a frying pan. I crossed that finish line 15 seconds shy of an hour and that is nothing short of a miracle. As I walked to the C-Train to head back home, I saw the guy I stood behind in the crowd – Sleeveless Shirt Man. I looked at him, majestic, muscles prominent and graceful, barely had a bead of sweat on him. He won, I lost. As he looked at me, he gazed upon a poor soul who had a face as red as the sun, an absolute mound of clothing burdening his arms, and to top it all off, a sweater tied around his waist. I’m sure if he was preacher, he would have laid hands on me right then and asked the Lord to help me in my time of need. I was a mess, but it was my own fault!



…and After!

My advice to you is this – don’t over dress for races. Running Room founder John Stanton states that it is always best to start off a race a little chilly. I always try to follow his wise words. It may seem cold standing at the start line, but when your feet hit the pavement and you have multiple kilometers under your belt, you will warm up I promise!

Don’t overdress for races, come to the start line with a bit of a chill, and please don’t make my same mistakes! Running is beautiful; don’t make a mess of the Mona Lisa.

Stay tuned next week for Lesson 5 – Eating Too Much

Written by Chad Baird | BCMM Public Relations Student | Mount Royal University

The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race: Lesson 5

The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race
The Tales and Lamentations of the Ill-Prepared Runner

Lesson 5 – Don’t Eat Too Much

Nutrition goes hand in hand with running. If you are eating improperly before or during a race, you may find yourself running into a few problems. In the spirit of this series about my tales and lamentations of running, I shall share a story with you, a tale of an upset and turbulent tummy.

It was the 2010 harvest half-marathon. The sun was shining on every runner who ran that beautiful course through Fish Creek Provincial Park. On a side note, that is my absolute favorite course. I have raced it once and ran it on my own time at least ten times over, excellent course! If you ever want to come run it with me, give me a call and we will party on the trails! Alright, where were we? Yes, Harvest half! Gorgeous day, but I came a little too prepared. I thought I would put a little rocket fuel in my system, be prepared with a wicked boost to carry me along! I had an immense number of power bars, and power gels! The contents of my waterpack looked like the evidence of Running Room robbery! Nevertheless, I was under the misconception that I needed all of this to fuel myself! The gun went off and I burned it off the line. I went up and down the hills like a champion, and then I made the mistake to pillage my robbery bag. I downed one powerbar, then another one. At 15 km, I ripped open two Powergels and swiftly ingested the contents with the might of Thor. I am heroic! I am fueled! I am ready to go! Soon after this, my stomach fluid turned from an elegant pond, calm and serene, to a storm on the high seas. My face went green and I felt my yellowing eyes bug out of head. I felt so nauseated, but purposed to not be one of those guys reproducing their breakfast on the side of the course. I thought happy thoughts of Pepto Bismol, Ginger Ale, and crackers. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Make it to the finish line! I completed the race in under 2 hours, but my stomach was less than pleased. However, I learned a great lesson that day!

My advice to you is to not eat too much during a race. Your body is expending a massive amount of energy to keep you moving and directing a lot of blood to your extremities and away from your digestive system. Digesting food is a major body function, and when you are running, the digestive system is not your body’s main concern. I suggest one or two
Powergel’s throughout the duration of a half-marathon or full marathon. Powerbars have never worked for me during a race, because they are too heavy, too much too digest. However, after the race they are excellent. Personally, I love the Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Plus Bar. In the words of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun, they are magically delicious.

Don’t eat too much before or during a race. You will not be able to perform to your maximum potential because your body will be conflicted between your circulatory system and your digestive system.

Running is beautiful; don’t mess with the Mona Lisa.

If you enjoyed reading this series, please comment below and let me know!

Written by Chad Baird | BCMM Public Relations Student | Mount Royal University

The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race: Lesson 3

The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race
The Tales and Lamentations of the Ill-Prepared Runner

Lesson 3 – Hitting the Wall(s)

Pain is temporary, victory is forever – this was the caption written on a large cardboard sign, held by a loving spectator at the half way point of a grueling hill in a half marathon I ran in 2010. I will never forget that sign because it inspired me to not only finish the race strong, but adopt that as my mantra for running. That is a meaningful saying because there are two walls that a runner can hit when they run a race – the mental wall and the physical wall. I have experienced both and both come with their own pace-stopping criteria.  I fully ran into both walls when I ran the Calgary Scotiabank Marathon on May 30, 2010 – my first full marathon. Let’s talk about the mental wall first because frankly, you will often meet this guy first in a race.

The body is truly incredible, yet our mind can play tricks on us. It whispers to us, “Slow down man. You can’t do this. This is boring, go grab a cheeseburger! Wouldn’t you rather be watching Full House?” All of these thoughts were running through my head as I approached the 26km marker. I was mentally spent in every capacity. I met the mental equivalent of the Berlin Wall, and it didn’t seem like it was ready to crumble anytime soon. I wanted to stop…I wanted to quit…but I didn’t. I accepted the fact that I felt tired, but I knew that I had trained for this moment. That is what you must learn in running races. The challenge can sometimes seem insurmountable and impossible, but you must remember that your body is a well-oiled machine. Push through the false thoughts of failure and you will finish the race successfully.

The mental wall has a friend. This friend is not such a nice guy, nothing more than a schoolyard bully! With the mental wall comes the physical wall. Unfortunately, they are inseparable and come as one unified package throughout the duration of the race. At kilometre 39 of the full marathon, the wall took a flying leap of a high dive and came crashing down upon me in a pile of rubble and sorrow. 300 meters from the 39 kilometre sign, I knew I was SUPER tired. As I continued to run I thought to myself, “Alright Chad. You are going to just throw up. But you have to keep moving when you do it. Run a little, throw up a little, run a little. Easy peasy! Just keep going and do it right behind that bush.” I passed the bush that I had eyed out, and to my surprise I didn’t put on a show for any of the spectators. This was a great choice because the crowd on that section of the course consisted of a large group of children who looked to be especially happy and pleasant and an old woman sitting on a lawn chair with a big red cow bell. There was no need to ruin their day and hear a chorus of 30 screaming, crying children! I pushed for the last 3km, it was hard, but I did it. Crossing the finish line of my first full marathon is a feeling of pure elation that I will truly never forget in my entire time on this earth. My advice, when the wall hits, keep pushing, keep running, but slow down a bit. You want to keep your pace, the wall wants to crush you – slowing down is a fair compromise.

Walls can be a challenge. But make sure that you bring your mental climbing gear to each and every race because with some determination, you can overcome anything. Run safe, run smart, know your limitations. Running is beautiful; don’t make a mess of the Mona Lisa.

Stay tuned next week for Lesson 4 – Dress for the Weather

Written by Chad Baird | BCMM Public Relations Student | Mount Royal University

The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race: Lesson 2

The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race
The Tales and Lamentations of the Ill-Prepared Runner

Lesson 2 – Not Training At All

October 16, 2011, Toronto half-marathon, the smell of victory in the air. As I stood in the cluster of runners at the start line, I was simply stoked to get going. It was at this moment that I realized a very important factor in the immediate outcome of this race. The neural pathways in my brain lit up and I thought to myself, “Hey Chad, you haven’t trained for this race at all? Have you?” Oh dear…this isn’t going to be good.

Alright, let me back up. I am a frugal person and the thought of saving money thoroughly excites me. I truly believe that there will be a Value Village just inside the pearly, golden, gates of Heaven. This said, I made sure that I purchased the early bird special for the 2011 Toronto half-marathon. At that time, I was in the process of moving from Alberta to Ontario, so training time got replaced with high levels of box-filling and joyous days of painting a house. After I moved, I felt displaced and out of my element. I did not run because I simply did not have the motivation to train. One week before the race, I woke up in a state of alarmed panic as one sentence flowed through my head: “RACE DAY A-COMETH BUD AND YOU HAVEN’T DONE A THING!” I jumped out of bed and did push-ups until I was red in the face. Unfortunately, 27 and a half push-ups doesn’t replace 4 months of training. Seven days later, I woke up, laced up, and went and ran a half marathon completely cold.

Alright, back to October 16th. The gun went off and to my surprise I felt like a million bucks, possibly even 2.87 Million. I ran at a very acceptable pace, and did not start too fast (Lesson 1). I didn’t take too many walking breaks and had my breathing under control. I didn’t understand it! 5k, 12k, 15k – I was invincible! It was at 18k that my thoughts began to change. I started slowing down and felt a peculiar sensation in my legs. However, I pushed through the last 3km and victoriously raised my hands in triumph at the finish line. “YES! I beat the system! I didn’t have to train for a race! Marathons are easy!” Correction Chad, you are currently crossing the finish line with a lower body injury fit for a hospital waiting room. I received my participation medal and began walking down the street to head on home. It was at this moment that I realized there was something wrong. I looked like a new-born baby giraffe who didn’t know how to use his legs. Wobbling about, I sat on a bench and wanted to scream “SERENITY NOW!”

I didn’t train for my half marathon and I put a major tear in every single one of my leg muscles. I also developed a sciatic nerve injury that disallowed me from running for nearly two years. This may sound ridiculous, but always remember to train for your races and train properly! John Stanton’s book, Running, has many training schedules and tips to ensure your long-term success.

Train for your races, train properly, train hard. Your body is incredible, but to be successful in races, you need to help it out with some preparation. Running is beautiful; don’t make a mess of the Mona Lisa.

Stay tuned next week for Lesson 3 – Hitting The Wall(s)

Read Lesson 1 – Starting Too Fast

Written by Chad Baird | BCMM Public Relations Student | Mount Royal University

The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race: Lesson 1

The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race
The Tales and Lamentations of the Ill-Prepared Runner

Lesson 1 – Starting Too Fast

I have been a competitive distance runner for 4 years. Throughout the duration of my race career, I have stumbled and fell – both metaphorically and literally. I have had great moments and I have moments peppered with pure stupidity! I am here to inform you of the latter, the mistakes and pitfalls of running. Throughout this series, I will be discussing some of my errors on both race days and in training. Please learn from my mistakes! Take notes! Tell a friend! Call a broadcast station! Do anything to not repeat my mistakes!

My name is Chad Baird…and I am a distance running fool!

The date was July 11, 2010 in Calgary, Alberta. 8:00 a.m., 7 degrees Celsius, slight wind, perfect. The half-marathon section of the Stampede Road Race was ready and waiting for me to tear into it. This was my first half, so I was itching to run, itching to get the rubber of my soles on the pavement. Unfortunately, with new experience comes naivety. As I joined the crowd of excited runners at the start line with my father, who I love to death but secretly and subliminally loathe because he is 29 years older than me and in better shape than me, I prepare myself for the ruckus that is about to ensue. 21.1 km ‘til freedom. The gun goes off and my dad and I take off at a speed typically saved for the land-speed records of large jungle cats or the roadrunner’s foot speed from The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show. Pacing between a 3:45 to 4:15 kilometer for the first half of the race, we were on top of the world. There was nothing that could stop us. In our heads, we were Greek gods, shining, majestic, eating a cluster of grapes atop a grand mountain of stone and steel. Nearing a full sprint pace, I looked down at my Garmin wristwatch at the 5km mark and thought to myself, “I am going to finish this race in 1:30:00! Marathon running is easy!” Correction Chad…marathon running is not easy and you are just sadly misguided. My dad and I hit the 7km marker and I could see panic brewing in my father’s eyes. His gears were grinding, the machine slowly crumbling. He told me to keep up the pace and run ahead because he couldn’t maintain the crazy pace anymore. I swiftly bid him farewell, and victoriously ran ahead. I was running on pure adrenaline, but my body had had enough and at the next aid station, I fully understood the meaning of pain.

9km aid station, the plague of my soul – either name with suffice. As I slowed down to walk and grab a Gatorade, I realized that I was fully destroyed. Everything is wrong, everything is lost. At that moment, I am pretty sure I heard a violent car crash in my brain. Crunching metal, screeching tires, sirens. I had nothing left. My lungs heaved as I tried to catch my breath. The sun beat down on me and I was reduced to nothing more than a weary desert traveler. My legs felt like scuba tanks, heavy and hollow, wading through endless amounts of water. My arms were so weak that I could barely lift my Gatorade cup to my lips. It was in this moment, I considered a good, healthy man cry. “NO CHAD! GET IT TOGETHER!” I threw my cup to the ground and started to run again. “Yes, Chad! You are the king again! Back at it! Eating Zeus grapes on Grecian mountains! Racing like a champ!” I looked down at my watch and expected to see the sub-four-minute pace I boasted previously. My watch read a dismal 13:38 kilometer pace. It is at this point that runners start to make excuses. “THE GPS ALIGNMENT IS OFF! THE TREES ARE BLOCKING THE SIGNAL! SOLAR FLARES ARE DISRUPTING MY SATELLITE!” It was none of those things. I was just pacing at a speed that is often surpassed by infants crawling for a toy in the modern family home. With my back slouched and legs burning, I continued on in the race at my Baby Gap super speed and finished the race in 2:15:00. Considering how violently I hit the wall, I am just happy that I didn’t have to get pulled to the finish line in a little red wagon by a road marshall.

2010 Stampede Road Race = 1, Chad Baird = 0

I tell you this story because there is an important point I want to outline. Do not (and I really mean do not) start out a race faster than you are comfortable. I’m going to repeat that just so we understand each other. DO NOT START OUT A RACE TOO FAST! There is so much excitement in the beginning of a race that it is easy to start off too quickly and do exactly what I did – burnout! You trained for the race and you know your pace. Make sure that you keep yourself in check because you don’t need to be a hero. I tried to be hero, but I lost my cape and fell from the sky.

Start the race at a pace that you can maintain, and you will be running across the finish line with a smile on your face. Running is beautiful; don’t make a mess of the Mona Lisa.

Stay tuned next week for Lesson #2: Not Training At All

Written by Chad Baird | BCMM Public Relations Student | Mount Royal University

Looking for a fun, family activity this weekend?

TOIMORROW! Join us for Healthy Kids Day!

YMCA Healthy Kids Day is a free community event celebrating and promoting the healthy growth and development of children and families. Join us for a fun filled day of activities, healthy living tips and free access to our YMCA facilities!

When – Sunday, June 3rd from 10am-1pm

WhereAll YMCA Calgary locations

Event Schedules – Check out all the exciting activities we have in store for you:

See you there!