Hood To Coast with the MOST: Tips for Running a Relay Race

May 16, 2015

I have been lucky enough to have completed Hood to Coast 3 times, each with its own special learning experience, a few of which I share here with you below! Here are  my Top 10 “things to consider” to ensure you have a fun running relay race experience.

1. Train for your specific event! Get out there and start running the type of run that you will do on your legs. Run downhill if you will be running downhill. Start doing hill repeats if you will be doing a lengthy uphill.  If you don’t know your terrain yet, prepare for all of it. Also, don’t underestimate a gradual, but lengthy downhill. If you aren’t used to running it, and you do it on race day, your body will instantly fatigue. Practice the type of terrain you will run on race day. Here are the specifics to the Hood To Coast Relay legs. AND…clip your toenails if you are running downhill!

2. Use your gear BEFORE race day! Think ahead and use the gear you will use the weekend of your race. Will you change out of your favorite shorts only to wear leggings that chafe? Have your gear ready! DO NOT purchase new shoes, socks or other items the day before your event or you might spend the weekend with blisters. Break in your shoes before the event, and if you mind putting on sweaty shoes at 2am in the morning, you might want to pack two pairs. Not a necessity, but your feet might thank you….or at least fresh socks! Also, to prevent chafing in all areas of the body, try Body Glide. Portland TEAM Fitness Alayne Rowan swears by it!  Buy a stick soon and, try it out before the race. If you are running at night, experiment with your headlamp. Does it stay on when you run? The first year I ran at night the movement of the little patch of light somehow made me feel dizzy. I held the headlamp in my hand and blocked half the light from it to make my running possible…Also, be considerate of the amount of gear that you bring in the van. Certainly make yourself comfortable pre-post running, but remember you and 5 others are in the van for almost 24 hours!

3. Practice Your Nutrition What makes you feel energized and what weighs you down? I had an over consumption of trail mix the first year and I urge you NOT to do the same. Post run you will want some quick and easy carbohydrates and protein, pre-run just some fairly quick burning carbs. Gels, Gu, bars whatever floats your boat, give them a try on a weekend run. Also, figure out how close to “go” time you can ingest something. Everyone is different, so know your own body. Check out some great pre-run meal suggestions HERE.

4. HYDRATE Hydration is NOT something you do simply an hour before your first run, but it is something that should start two or three days before your event. In fact treat your body well the entire weekend/week up to your event and you will feel noticeably more energized! You will also want to experiment with electrolytes. You will be sweating out salt and water alone will not be enough to replenish this. Squirt guns are always a hit on a hot afternoon.  Ask permission before you blast your buddy or a stranger.  Also, know the signs of DEHYDRATION and keep an eye on your teammates, because it can get REALLY, REALLY hot. Know when to say when, as heat stroke and other dehydration problems are nothing to mess with. My favorite hydration mix is from Skratch Labs. I used it on a 50k race and felt great!

5. Double Up! Give your body a taste of moving above and beyond your comfortable pace two times in a day. Try a morning circuit workout, with a run on your lunch break. Or complete a tough workout at night and a run early the next morning. Try to get at least two or three “double fitness days” under your legs. Doing other things besides running on your legs can help get them ready for the experience of three different running distances in under 24 hours.

6. Change up your training times Our bodies get very used to the time of day we run/workout at….shock your system and prepare for those nutty hours by training a bit later or earlier once in a while.

7. Pace Yourself! I have been victim to the first leg excitement only to nearly hobble the next two legs because I gave a little too much too soon. Wear a watch and have a rough idea of your pace. Push yourself, but remember you have two more runs to go and be wise about it! If you didn’t train at the pace you find yourself running the first half of your first run, you might want to slow down a little bit!

8. Move, foam roll and stretch when you can! If you are waiting for a runner get out of your van and move your hips, stretch your legs. Do this gently at first, but keep moving if you can.

9. Cross Train! A strong, powerful core with super glutes and hips coupled with great upper body posture and strength will take you far. Check out our 4 Minute Heart TO Heart Videos for at home cross training, or check out our class schedule and come take a class at Portland TEAM Fitness.

10. HAVE FUN…by joining a team of people wanting the same sort of experience as you. From super competitive to first timers, to beers before running and silly costumes, you will find your team! Just make sure you are all on the same page as sometimes each side of the pendulum can be frustrated by the other. Ask around with team captains to make sure your intensity or non-competitive vibe will be on par with the team you are joining. Also to keep spirits up and minimize miscommunication, have a plan in place for where you will meet your runners at exchanges. Note that sometimes runners can arrive BEFORE their van does. Have a plan in place for this scenario. Night time runners might want to run with a shirt tied around their waist so that they can put it on and stay warm if they wait a bit after completing their leg.

Do you have questions, comments or concerns about your training program for Hood To Coast?  Please e-mail alayne@portlandteamfitness.com if you do! I would be happy to help answer them! Thanks  : )