By Kevin Stevens, RN, MSN, CHSE
MS CPD Student
Certified IRONMAN Coach
Ahh, spring has sprung, the sun is shining when it’s not cloudy and raining and the birds are chirping, usually at 4:00 a.m. This is the time when everyone is ready to head outdoors. What better way to do so than to get involved in the largest road race in the nation, an annual spring event, Bloomsday? A nice 7.46 mile jaunt through the beautiful Spokane area.
I have been running this race since 1989, and had always consider it a spring rite of passage. Even the years I don’t run it because it didn’t always fit into my training cycle for Ironman, I would still go to the tradeshow and enjoy the energy and excitement of the crowds.
As of this writing, Bloomsday is only three weeks away, so if you are going to participate, hopefully you have been doing some training for the last 5-8 weeks. Training should include a progressive process whether you plan to run or walk it. By race day you want to be able to run or walk seven miles or 80 – 90 minutes.
An example of progression would be walking for 30-45 minutes three times a week for the last two months, then for the next two weeks increase that to 45-60 min two times a week and add in a longer session each weekend of 75 minutes.
The week of Bloomsday, you want to be well rested, so decrease your mid-week walk/runs to 30-45 minutes each, and do some light stretching the day before the race. If you go to the Bloomsday Tradeshow on Saturday, which is a must to see all the latest running and walking gear, try not to spend all day on your feet.
Nutrition is another part of Bloomsday preparation. This includes what you eat every day up to race day as well as what to eat and drink on race day. Ideally, you have been eating healthy as you prepare for this day, taking in a diet that includes lean proteins such as fish and chicken, lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Good nutrition leading up to the event will help get you through the race. If you need more information on healthy eating, I highly recommend looking at the MyPlate.gov website. You will find great tips and healthy eating ideas.
On race day, be sure a eat a good breakfast that includes healthy carbohydrates, a little protein and small amount of fat. Oatmeal, pancakes, eggs, yogurt or whole grain cereal are some ideas. You want to take in about 400-500 calories. Remember: even though the race starts at 9 am, depending on what color group you start in, you may not get going until 10:00 or 10:30. Then add on an additional 90-120 minutes to finish and it could be awhile before you eat something, so it’s important to be well-fueled before you start.
That being said, during the race, it is important to take in some extra nutrition to keep you fueled. As a triathlon coach, I recommend to my athletes to take in nutrition for any workout longer than 90 minutes to refuel muscles. Consider bringing a snack to eat while you are on the course. Taking in about 150-200 calories per hour will keep you energized.
You can bring energy bars, such as Cliff Bars, or foods like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As there will be water stations about every mile on course, be sure to use those to stay hydrated. Even if the temps are cool, you will want to take in 16-20 oz per hour. I recommend a cup at every aid station even if you don’t feel thirsty.
So if you have been doing some form of exercise over the last few months, Bloomsday is a great way to start off your summer season. If you haven’t been exercising at all but are contemplating starting, check out all the pre and post-race day activities, cheer everyone on and then set your sites on preparing for next year. Either way, go out and enjoy this great running tradition in our community!