I have to admit, when I first saw the word "hacks" my first thoughts were that of severe coughing (e.g. hacking up a lung) or gaining unauthorized entry to some kind of data (hacking into a computer). But then, I realized the topic was probably more geared towards "tips or tricks" hacks. That makes a lot more sense. =)
Goodness, there are probably thousands of running hacks out there. The great thing is that it's a neverending learning process with discovering new hacks. =)
Here are ten hacks that are sacred to me:
- I study a race's course map in advance. I familiarize myself with the aid station placements, frequency, and offerings. I also look at loops/turns/end points and hills so I can plan accordingly and run the tangents, etc. Even if the race claims to offer GU or similar on the course, I always bring my own just in case.
- I keep a prepacked pouch with things like GU, Bodyglide, hair ties, bobby pins, safety pins, sunscreen, lip balm, band-aids, salt capsules, pretzels, etc. Then I just toss the entire pouch into my gear check bag along with whatever else I might need for that specific day. It saves a lot of time not having to repack everything each time. Also, if possible, I don't use the race-issued bag for gear check - I use something unique to make my bag more identifiable.
This might be the ugliest bag I've ever seen... but it would be really easy to identify if it ever got lost!
- When I get bored of running the usual course around my neighborhood, I try running the same route in reverse. Alternatively, I'll find a way to change things up midway. E.g. do part outside, part on the treadmill; change my shoes midway; vary up the fueling options.
- I enjoy listening to music while I'm running, but these days I don't listen to it the whole time, if at all. Instead, I'll reserve it for when I need a motivational boost to help myself get through those tough final miles.
- I lay out and prep ALL my gear the night before. This could even include loosening my running shoelaces, laying out the utensils and ingredients for breakfast, and pinning my bib in advance. (I've learned the hard way how tough it can be to pin your bib on straight when you're rushed or nervous, LOL.)
- Negative splits are always my goal. It's better to start out slow and speed up in the end than it is to start out fast and then die in the second half.
- I work on hydrating well throughout the entire day before a run, not just right before. For important races, I'll try to work on staying well hydrated starting several days in advance.
- Strength train (core and hips/glutes), stretch/foam roll, and cross-train.
- Bodyglide, Bodyglide, Bodyglide - and never try anything new on race day. I always do several practice runs in my entire race outfit and with my fueling strategy before race day.
- Lung capacity improves more quickly than your joints/muscles do. Easy/rest days are really, really important. This is another lesson that I've learned the hard way.
Your turn! Please share with me your most sacred running hacks!