Take It From The Top

Nathan Sports pros weigh in on how to make the most of your spring training

It's not always easy to navigate the world of race preparation, especially if you're new to running. While you may have your race date circled on your calendar and a spreadsheet of workouts you plan to tackle over the next several months, there are so many key training tips (like nutrition or resting for example) that may go unnoticed.

Thanks to our team of elite runners and triathletes, we've compiled an extensive list of sage training tips the speedsters themselves have learned along the way. And you don't have to be elite to benefit. These tips are universally applicable and, above all, important:

REST DAYS: The most important day on the calendar and also the most overlooked.

Rest days should not be overlooked. I take a full rest day about once a week. It's a chance for the body--and mind--to heal, regroup and refocus before getting after it again. It also offers an opportunity to catch up on life, friends and relationships, all of which can suffer during an intense training block."

-Rob Krar

THE LONG RUN: If you're preparing for an ultra, the long run is key.

For those training for 50- to 100-mile races or for 24-hour or multi-day races, running back-to-back long runs (like 20 to 30 miles on Saturday followed by 20 to 30 miles on Sunday) is a great way to learn how to run when tired. I'll do these runs on about a 5 mile loop course so I can refuel with water and gels. It also helps in building my mental strength because sometimes its very easy to quit doing small loops.

-Jim Sweeney

LIVEN IT UP: Switch things up to heighten motivation.

I have a hard time keeping motivated if I do the same runs over and over to train. Whenever possible, I look for new routes. Even if I'm planning a run I have done a lot I try to find small detours along the way. This gives me something to look forward to on each run and keeps the adventure aspect (which I love about running) ever present.

-Jason Henrie

SET IT AND FORGET IT: Let your race-day nutrition be a no brainer.

Set an alarm to ring every 30-40 mins during an event to remind you to eat and/or drink then you don't have to remember. And practice ith hydration products before racing with them. Learning that you can't access your fuel during a race is a bummer.

- Michael Wardian

PLAN AHEAD to help stay committed.

Commit to a run the night before. It can be tough to get up and out the door in the morning but I find that mentally committing to a morning run the day prior ensures that I get my miles in rather than taking an unnecessary day off.

-Eric Senseman

IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS, so pay attention to the little things.

Don't forget about the little things ... they make a big difference. Stretching - I stretch for 20 min each day after my workout (when my muscles are warm and supple). Eating - listen to your cravings in moderation and be sure to replenish your muscles with 20 grams of protein within an hour of working out (within 30 min is even better). Sleep - the most underrated part of health and fitness is getting enough sleep. Aim for 9-10 hours a night if you can swing it, the more the better.

-Andy Potts

FOOD IS FUEL, so pay attention to how you use it.

Nutrition is important for optimal performance and recovery. Eat to run, not run to eat. Give your body what it needs and don't stress about it too much. Nutrition is simple- eat all nutrients and vary the foods you consume.

-Stephanie Howe

SET GOALS and work to make them happen.

Every ultrarunner [or runner] should create a yearly plan that include your goals for the year. List them all. They could be training goals, racing goals or simply checking out a trail or doing an adventure run (like running up Half Dome or visiting a section of the Appalachian Trail) you've never seen before. It's easy to get side-tracked or too busy in a year to schedule the fun stuff. If you've blocked out all that you wish to accomplish before the calendar fills you'll ensure to do and see all the places and events you want.

-Ian Torrence

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