Running with Mother Nature


Rob MacKenzie, a member of the PEI running community and Board Member of the Prince Edward Island Marathon, is writing a series of articles for The Guardian Newspaper on a variety of running related topics. Have a read through his articles for some up-beat motivation and funny stories to keep you on your toes, pun intended, as you prepare for your race at the upcoming BMO Nesbitt Burns Prince Edward Island Marathon Race Weekend!

Monday, October 6, 2014

It’s now time to share a little bit of my personal running history with you.  Warning; this is not going to be pretty. By 2005, I had run approximately 10 marathons with some success.  I was heading into that edition of the PEI Marathon with some confidence that I was going to run a very fast time, possibly even a personal best.  Mother Nature, however, would play a couple of very cruel tricks on me that day.

First, marathon morning was extremely cold and windy that promised to make the 42.2K trek into Charlottetown nothing short of miserable. The second cruel trick dealt just to me was some severe stomach cramping that started shortly after halfway along the confederation trail. Here I was, leading the marathon, with not a port-a-potty in sight. Trying to “hold it in” was quickly becoming impossible and the discomfort was really slowing me down.  I had to make a split decision.  A couple of quick checks around me, a long look down the trail to see if there were any runners close by, and I ran straight down the ditch and into the woods. Two minutes later I emerged from the woods feeling somewhat sheepish, but much better. I pressed on through the miserable weather and managed to finish ahead of everyone else.

Participating in a long distance event, where you are going to be out on the course for an extended period of time is going to present some problems like I experienced and I’ll share with you some tips and tricks to avoid GI and other unfortunate problems during PEI Marathon Weekend Oct. 17-19.

  • Nerves, and the fact that exercise gets your body to move water from your digestive system to your working muscles will make your stomach much more sensitive so avoid high fiber foods 24 hours before your event.
  • Practice your pre-race nutrition before the event on training runs.  Find out what works and what doesn’t, and stick with what you are used to.  A simple high carb breakfast works best for most runners.
  • Carbo-loading the day before your race is a good idea for marathoners and some half-marathoners, however, it is not a license to eat so much pasta that you can’t move. You want to increase the percentage of carbs in your diet without over-indulging. Remember, what goes in must come out.

GI problems are not the only issues that can make race day a long ole’ sufferfest.  Blisters, chafing, bonking, dehydration and over-hydration are just some of the pitfalls participants can face.

  • Having new running shoes and clothing for the event is very tempting even for the most experienced of runners. To avoid any unforeseen chafing or blisters wear your new shoes and gear for a few training runs to ensure that the gear you have chosen will get you through the race without any issues.
  • Guys face a particular challenge. Nipple chafing.  Speaking from experience, you don’t notice it while running. It’s not until you step into the shower and the warm soapy water hits the irritated skin that you realize what you have really done. A simple application of Vaseline, BodyGlide, or even some waterproof band-aids can save your skin.
  • Practice hydration and nutrition on your training runs and drink when thirsty.  The PEI Marathon uses Gatorade for its hydration so practice drinking it while out training.

Despite some runner’s best efforts Mother Nature will still come calling. It happens even to the best.  For proof go to YouTube and search Paula Radcliffe. She is the female world record holder in the marathon and in 2005 (that was a bad year) she experienced what I did, except it was while leading one of the world’s biggest marathons.



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