By Félix Côté
It’s all about motivation
I believe that anyone can take part in an endurance race. You just need to be motivated enough to reach your goal and go the distance when the day finally arrives. First and foremost, you can only be motivated when you truly enjoy what you’re doing. So never forget that pleasure is definitely the best motivator!
The key to success is constant, adapted progress. Running 42 kilometres can seem impossible. And it IS impossible when you first start to run! That’s why it’s so important to set goals. After a few training sessions, as the days and weeks go by, your body will grow accustomed to the exercise. You’ll be able to run longer distances, and your recovery will get easier and easier. A coach can create a training program that works for you and which you can modify according to factors such as the weather or your level of fatigue.
It’s important to vary the exercises. More than anything, always remember that intense training is key. When preparing to run long distances, some are tempted to train for many hours. But to avoid injury and stay motivated, I always alternate between short, intense workouts, rest and longer, less strenuous training sessions. I sometimes go on long, intense runs and rides, but I always make sure that I have enough time to recover the next day.
A long race means a lot of repeated movements and an increased risk of injury. So your equipment must be adapted. With the right shoes and clothing and a good position on the bike, you’ll save yourself from a lot of potential trouble. Many specialized stores can guide you in selecting gear that meets your needs.
Covering long distances will make you work up an appetite, so you’ll need to eat more. After a few hours of running or pedaling, don’t be afraid to add some carbs to your meals, like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes or quinoa. And don’t forget to snack! Fruit yogurt, banana, cereal and chocolate milk (everyone’s favourite!) are all great options. Snacking right after a workout will help you recover faster. Make sure what you eat contains enough carbs and proteins. These days, I’ve been drinking a lot of smoothies made with Greek yogurt, orange juice, mango, flaxseed and lemon zest. Be creative and reward yourself!
The more you train, the more energy your body will need and the more nutrients you will have to consume. Don’t forget the essentials: calcium, iron and vitamins are vital to the recovery process. To avoid prolonged fatigue and deficiencies, monitor your nutrient intake, eat varied foods and consult a nutritionist whenever necessary.
Get race day off on the right foot. Wake up at least two hours before the start. To be ready to go on the starting line at 9 a.m., I get up at 6 a.m. After a good breakfast, I check the gear that I prepared the night before to avoid pointless stress on the morning of the race.
The fun starts when the gun goes off. Get going and respect your abilities. Some will start fast…often much too fast. Know your physical condition to avoid hitting the wall and catch up with the quick starters later.
During a race, you should eat small amounts of food on a regular basis. For three and a half hours race, I always bring a banana, one or two energy bars, one or two gels and two large bottles of energy drink. I gulp down portions every 30 to 45 minutes and try to stay hydrated. That way, I have a continuous intake of energy and can finish strong.
Finally, I’ve learned that mental strength is your best ally. I don’t think about the mountain that the distance constitutes. I focus on the present. I appreciate the landscape and make the most of the adventure. When a mechanical or physiological issue that’s beyond your control crops up (muscle cramps, for example), you have to tell yourself that you only have power over one thing: your attitude and, ultimately, your morale. And once you’ve gone through the finish line, your morale will be through the roof and all you’ll want to do is recover properly and do it all again!
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