On Sunday morning around 7:45am PST, I participated in the SF Marathon’s 5k. Thanks to my discovery of Vibrams Five Fingers and a strong personal desire to push myself physically, I’ve taken a liking to running, (which I used to hate) and enrolled in a 5k. Outside of a few minor setbacks, my training has gone well and my knee has not really bothered me, thanks to the forefoot running style I employ with the Vibrams.

It was my first athletic competition in over 2 years (since retiring as a national championship winning collegiate gymnast) and I had a lot of fun. I also ran it in just a t-shirt and boxer briefs. Here’s how it went down.

Final Days of Training

After my last hard training run on Monday (Runkeeper), my ankles were pretty sore (I’ve discovered I overpronate) so I took it easy – icing my ankles a lot and taking ibuprofen to manage inflammation. I did a short, easy run on Thursday just to keep my cardio fitness up – it was pretty warm and my pace was both slow and yet difficult (Runkeeper). Not a great start but it would have to do.

I find running with music really helps me push when I’m tired so I put together a special mix that was around 26 minutes – plenty of time to get past the finish line. See mix in the footnotes. I spent some time in the days before imagining the path I would run, visualizing runners along side me and my staying focused on my own pace and pushing through the hard points toward the end. Remember kids – visualization helps you master skills.

Rest & Diet

I knew I needed to get more rest and move my sleep schedule closer to race conditions. The race was around 7:45am and I’ve typically been sleeping around 2:30am and waking around 9:30 – 10am. I ended up getting decent sleep on Friday but Saturday I went to bed at midnight and woke at 6:20am – so not great.

I drank a lot of water and tried to avoid heavy foods the week of the race. Nothing like the need to perform at optimal physical conditions to cause you to eat healthier. I avoided beer and desserts and tried to eat more fruit. Avoided coffee and soda too, so that the Red Bull would have a stronger kick (see Race Day)

Race Day

Just arrived. The starting line hasn't crowded up yet

I normally run in a pair of board shorts that have pockets so I can stash my iPhone to listen to music while I run, but I recently picked up a nifty little thing called the SPIbelt, a super low profile iPod-holding belt so I could wear a lighter pair of shorts. It was cold the day of the race so I wore sweatpants, an extra shirt, regular shoes with socks and a bag to change into my race gear at the event.

Ate oatmeal for breakfast, drank more water + a couple Advils, tried to move my bowels in the morning (to get lighter and offset “runner’s diarrhea”) but no luck. Drank most of a Red Bull on the way to the subway because studies have shown that caffeine and taurine can increase physical performance and endurance. Continue reading

How does a kid from Coos Bay, with one leg longer than the other win races? All my life people have been telling me, ‘You’re too small Pre’, ‘You’re not fast enough Pre’, ‘Give up your foolish dream Steve’. But they forgot something, I HAVE TO WIN.

Steve Prefontaine – American middle and long-distance runner

As I learn more about running, I also learn more about its legends. Prefontaine is one of them. Coached by Bill Bowerman, cofounder of Nike, Steve was an electrifying athlete who got people on their feet when he raced. Over his career, he won 120 of the 153 races he ran (78 percent), set numerous American records in distances between 2,000 and 10,000 meters and placed 4th in the ’72 Olympics.

He died at the young age of 24 but left behind a legacy that inspires people to this day. You can learn more about Steve here and here.