Five Mental Tips for Race Day Success

Ever hear the phrase, “running/walking is 90% mental”? While that may be a bit of hyperbole, there is a lot of truth to the saying. Having a strong mental game on race day can be the difference between cashing in and crapping out on months of hard work and preparation.

Sport psychologists encourage relaxation and visualization during an event. Physiologically relaxed muscles are more fluid, react more quickly, and burn less energy. Relaxed bodies have lower blood lactate levels and allow for greater mental concentration. On the opposite end, when you are experiencing fear and stress, the body becomes tense and tight. Blood flow is directed to the brain, making it harder for the body to perform. Referenced from “Running Within” Jerry Lynch

The following five tips will help you relax and visualize your way to Race Day success!

Tip 1: Breath

There is no consensus on what the best breathing pattern is. I have personally found it helpful to keep my breathing under control as much as possible. If you can be thoughtful about each breathe, it will go a long way; staying relaxed will bring in enough oxygen while also relaxing your mind and body. You can even take this a step further by visualizing clean air circulating through the body with each inhalation, and toxins, stress, and negativity being released with each exhalation.

Tip 2: Body & Face

Remember: staying relaxed and under control is the name of the game. To do that you need to identify and eliminate areas of tension in the body and face. Aim for having loosely cupped hands, relaxed arms, dropped and relaxed shoulders, and a gentle anterior tilt of the head. You also want to relax your face. I typically visualize one of Salvador Dali’s clocks and try to make my face as close to that as possible.

Tip 3: Words

Develop positive mantras and be relentlessly optimistic. I remind myself over and over about all the hard work I have put in and how ready I am. But that is just me. Everyone runs or walks a race for different reasons. Whatever your reason, lean into that! And give yourself plenty of reminders when things are getting tough. I have also found that putting a smile on my face from time to time really helps a lot. After all, this is supposed to be fun!

Tip 4: Images

Using visual images can really help during challenging parts of a race. I typically like to think back to a time when a workout or race went really well and how great I felt. Putting my mind into that positive space helps me will it into existence again. I also like to imagine myself at the moment I cross the finish line and the joy I will feel when I’m done running and my goals have been met. Again, this is just me; mantras should be personal. Find what images motivate you and use them.

Tip 5: Handling Bad Patches

There are several coping strategies that help with handling bad patches during a race. I personally like to break the race into small, manageable chunks – the next mile marker, the next street corner, etc. Focus all your efforts on making it to whatever spot you have picked out in your mind. When you reach the spot you targeted, then choose another and repeat. Other successful tactics include quickening your pace for short bouts of 50-100 meters to change things up, or focusing on your running form to make sure you are maintaining good running posture.

Now that you have the keys to the castle, you should be ready to crush it on race day! If you think I missed anything feel free to share in the comments any strategies that work for you. I also love hearing success stories, so let me know if any of these tips work out for you. Fare well! I wish you the best of luck in your upcoming events!

Be an A+ Spectator

Spectators can be game-changers for runners chasing a PR or finish line. Their energy is contagious, as is their confidence in us. Their shouts of encouragement propel us forward and their creative signs make us laugh, taking our focus off our legs and lungs.

The smaller ones offer high fives and the adult ones occasionally offer a PBR.

With the Monumental Marathon just around the corner, we wanted to share a few tips that will help you ace your spectating experience.

  1. Runners don’t stop for red lights and we don’t stop for spectators trying to cross the street. When you cross, make sure there’s enough time and space to get across in one go. Stopping, playing Frogger or weaving will almost certainly end poorly for you and a runner. It may even end his race.

    Be extra cautious if you’re crossing with kiddos or doggos in tow. 

  2. Speaking of doggos, keep them on a reasonably short leash. A dog wondering even a couple feet into the street can be problematic for a runner. Same for little people. Make sure, too, that you have a hold on doggo’s leash. You know he wants to go all-out toward the finish line.

  3. It can often be hard to breathe and run, so please keep the cigarettes, cigars and vapes away from the course, starting corrals and post-race festivities.

  4. Lie to us. Tell us we look great; we look strong; we can do it. Don’t, though, tell us that we’re almost there unless you can see the finish line. 

  5. Please please please enjoy yourself. It can be a long day, so consider dressing in layers if the weather is cool. Bring snacks. Get out the Cornhole boards. Whoop it up. Pull up your favorite camp chair and pour your favorite morning cocktail. Call us by name on our bib or the team name on our singlets. If you’re having fun, we will, too.

  6. Don’t quit on us! The front-runners are exciting to watch and the mid-packers give you a lot to watch and cheer for, but don’t forget there are more people who could use your support.  

Ok, grab your cow bells, poster board and markers and get out there. Oh, and please forgive us if we throw a snot rocket in your general direction. It’s… ummm… a sign of affection. 

CNO Financial Group Indianapolis Monumental Marathon & Half Marathon Course Changes 2019

The 12th annual CNO Financial Group Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K is less than three weeks away! Since the marathon was first run in 2008, it has grown to be one of the 15 largest in the country. It is popular in part because it consistently offers great running weather and a fast course. As both the Half and Full marathon races have grown in size, small tweaks have been made to the courses to make sure participants continue to have experiences matching the high standards that they expect. The 2019 race features four such changes: two each to the Half and Full marathon courses. Without further ado, here is a breakdown of the new CNO Financial Group Indianapolis Monumental Marathon & Half Marathon courses.

Half AND Full Marathon Change:

The first course change affects both the Half and Full marathons between miles 3 and 4. As participants head north on Alabama from New York, instead of turning right on Michigan Street, as was done last year, runners will now pass Michigan and go 1 block farther to North Street, turn right, and head towards Mass Ave. I doubt anyone will really notice this minor change. My impression is that this change adds a little more of a straight away and a slightly easier transition onto Mass Ave.–all good things for fast running!

Half Marathon Change Only:

For the Half Marathon ONLY, between miles 9 and 10, participants heading south on Talbott Street will reach 30th Street and, instead of turning right like in previous years, continue south to turn right on Mapleton Trace toward Meridian. This appears to be a pretty minor change to the course. If anything, it avoids the new Red Line for an extra block and a half. I anticipate this change will be inconsequential.

Full Marathon Change Only:

On the Full marathon course ONLY, as participants approach mile 13, instead of continuing north on College to 66th Street and turning left, they will turn left onto 64th Street and take that to Park Avenue. When marathoners reach Park, they will turn right and head north one block to Riverview Dr. where they will rejoin the traditional course route. This is also a minor change to the previous course. Turning off of College a couple blocks earlier than in previous years will help avoid any potential conflicts with the Red Line turn-around point on 66th Street. I actually run this section pretty frequently and think that, considering the Red Line, this is a very good change and will not negatively impact anyone’s performance.

These are all the course changes for the 2019 CNO Financial Group Indianapolis Monumental Marathon & Half Marathon. If you’ve run or walked either race in the past, the rest of the course is going to be just as fantastic as you remember! If this is your first time participating, then you can view both the entire Half and Full marathon course maps by clicking on this link: Be Monumental Course Map. Good luck to everyone! And make sure to come by the Indy Runners cheer tent post-race. Rumor has it we will be serving breakfast burritos! 😉

Runners Strength: 3 Exercises To Help You Have Less Injuries And Finish Strong

You love to run, right? But this whole strength training as a runner thing is a bit confusing, you don’t want it to interfere with your run plan or know what exercises you should be doing.

The good news is not only is adding strength training make you a stronger, less injury prone and faster runner, but you can add it to your weekly plan without throwing a hitch your run game!

MINDSET CHECK: Strength training is not cross-training it is just apart of your training as a runner and an athlete

Why is Strength Training important:

What does the Research say:

Effects of Heavy & Explosive Strength Training on Endurance Performance

  • Increase economy (ease of running)
  • Increase lactate threshold
  • Decrease or delayed fatigue
  • Increase max strength & speed
  • Improved endurance performance
  • Increase rate of force development (measure of explosive strength)

Strength Training reduced sports injuries to less than 1/3 and overuse injuries could almost be halved

Strength Training on Performance in Endurance Athletes

  • Improved velocity at VO2 max
  • Power output at VO2 max
  • Maximal anerobic running test velocity

KEY TAKEAWAY: VO2 max is the measure of the maximal amount of oxygen a person can use during intense exercise, so its basically a measurement of your body’s ability to use oxygen ie taken more oxygen and deliver to muscles

So let’s put this all together and give you 3 really easy to implement exercises you can do anywhere! You can also easily add them to your easy pace days. If you are currently in training season you will be good to add these as well! Remember the heavy and explosive strength training benefits above? It is recommended you implement a program like that after racing system and go from there.

Our power muscles the glutes, the cheeks, the peaches, etc whatever you want to call them need alot of attention in most runners so the three exercises below focus on increasing strength and stability there. Adding them to your routine will get you on the road to running easier, faster, and with less nagging aches or pain. Some focus can also help you to hit that PR in your next race!

KEY TAKEAWAY: This series of exercises are perfect for easy run days. If you need to begin without resistance thats ok, 3 sets of 15 with or without using resistance band

These are just a starting point to adding more targeted runners strength exercises into your run plan. The idea is to begin targeted strengthening program that includes free weights, barbell, kettlebells, etc that can be used throughout the year with different adjustments based on your run/walk or training schedule. Stronger hips to keep you on the pavement = a happy and faster runner!

Research excerpt from PT management for endurance runners

Featured Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

Dr Latisha Williams @runforlifeindy, is a new member of Indy Runners, loves helping others, has been a physical therapist since 2007, RRCA Certified Run Coach and Owner of Run For Life Performance & Physical Therapy

How To Avoid 3 Common Running Injuries

You love to run, but you hate admitting you may have an injury, especially if you’ve gone to the doctor and heard the dreaded words… just STOP running for awhile. 


The fact is that 27-70% of recreational runners experience a running injury during a training year. For a lot of people running is medicine, it helps keep the crazy away, decrease stress, push yourself to heights you never thought you could! So how do we help prevent all of our hard marathon or race training going out the window by having to sit out due to injury?

Do any of these sound like you?

Runner/Walker #1: I’ve been noticing some pain around or under your kneecap that has slowly become annoying after runs, you shake it off at first but now the front of your knee has been bothering you more and more over the last weeks

Runner/Walker #2: You’ve decided to up your running and train for a half or full marathon or you haven’t been as consistent with your running and you up the mileage… but now you’ve began to notice some tenderness on the outside of lower leg that as you get warmed up it goes away and then after your done it comes back

Runner/Walker #3: Ok, you are starting to up your training intensity and miles (yippee for hill repeats, track workouts or increasing your mileage) but have been waking up with sharp pain on bottom of foot especially near your heel. After walking a bit its better. It’s been a few weeks now and its starting to be a bear getting more painful with prolonged standing, getting up after sitting a bit or climbing stairs

Let’s take a look at these 3 common running related injuries, what they are and ways to help prevent them.

Runner’s Knee (Runner #1)

Definition: knee cap not moving as it should, cause rubbing, irritation and lead to grinding down of cartilage

Causes: potentially weak quads, poor foot mechanics, tight ITB

How To Decrease Risk: Strengthen quadriceps and gluts, no big jumps in training mileage, proper stretching post run for hamstrings and quads

Shin Splints (MTSS) (Runner #2)

Definition: muscle most affected is tibalis anterior which goes from your knee down to your ankle. Pain is located at lower leg next to shin bone. Another important distinction is to rule-out compartment syndrome or stress fracture which are a lot more serious so another set of eyes are key for pain in this area

Causes: overuse injury: characterized by the “Too’s: training too hard, too fast or too long, also running downhill, old footwear

How To Decrease Risk: recognize tenderness in shin early and don’t try to power through, that can result in creating microtears and longer recovery

No big jumps in training load, keep track of mileage on footwear (general guidelines new shoes every 250-300 miles) and also think about having several pairs of running shoes to rotate

Plantar Fasciitis (Runner #3)

Definition: symptoms of stabbing pain or dull ache across bottom of foot, can normally pinpoint a real aggravated area near your heel; usually worst pain in the morning; small microtears of tendons and ligaments that run along the bottom of foot, name implies inflammation but alot of times you won’t see “swelling or inflammation”

Causes: overuse, won’t be any specific event that occurred, increased training (are you seeing a theme here..),

How To Decrease Risk: Good running form, strength training and proper shoes! No surprise here strengthening foot and big toe, foot alignment and footwear check, adequate warm-up prior to running. Also here’s a quick video of my favorite ways to revive tired and achy feet!

Let’s face it, we are runners and at some point an ache, pain or injury will occur! That’s just the nature of the beast! But taking steps to help decrease risk and recognize when you should seek outside help can keep you on the pavement, happy and crushing goals!

Don’t let a running injury take you out! Listen to your body and don’t wait to get checked out if you do start having nagging aches and pains. Happy Running!

Dr Latisha Williams @runforlifeindy, is a new member of Indy Runners, loves helping others, has been a physical therapist since 2007, RRCA Certified Run Coach and Owner of Run For Life Performance & Physical Therapy

Getting Down to Business.

There are few things worse than finding yourself still in line for a port-a-potty when the gun goes off at the start of your race. Here are a few tips to help keep the lines moving so you can get moving.

Get Down to Business. When you arrive at the race site, scope out the port-a-potty situation. Often times, you’ll find more than one bank of pots with varying wait times. Cue up and do your business before everyone else has the same idea.

Line Up
. You’ve likely seen a wide variety of lines form outside a row of port-a-potties. Some with one line per porta. Some separated by gender. Some with a single line feeding dozens of stalls. Some with just a blob of people waiting with no real order.

One of the more efficient options is to create one line for every 

4-5 potties. Think zones or sections. This will reduce the steps (and time) needed to get to the next available porta, yet prevent you from getting stuck in line behind ‘that guy’.

Get ready. Get set. Go. 
When you’re nearing the front of the line, pay attention. Get to a stopping place in your conversation, scan your section of potties and be ready to move when you see a door beginning to open.

The person before you will be polite and hold the door open for you, saving valuable seconds. Repay the favor and hold the door as you exit.

They’re made for one thing: pottying. 
Port-a-potties are not changing rooms, phone booths or … well, whatever othere use just popped in your mind. Really, who wants to hang out in there any longer than necessary!?

Although lines are more common before a race, there are often runners and spectators in need of the facilities after the race – often urgently. As a side note, if the units aren’t in constant use (i.e., no line), put the seat down. This will help ventilate the unit and minimize the odor.

Participants Get Priority. 
It takes a lot of people to put on a race, including volunteers and spectators and we get that they’ve all been drinking coffee since way before dawn. As much as possible, please allow runners and walkers to take priority in the line, especially if you can hear the National Anthem playing in the distance.

Lock the Door Behind You. Yes, this may cost you a few seconds, but the fright resulting from facing a stranger with your running tights around your ankles will cost you much more time.

If you find yourself in need of a pit stop during the race, look for port-a-potties along the course – often located near aid stations. Please avoid using lawns or alleyways, as tempting as they may seem.

 It’s rude, not to mention unsanitary.

flanagan-shalanetoilet-boston18-1523927399

As Shalane has shown, it is possible to go fast…

View Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t131MwydJlc 

Author’s Note: the porta does NOT double as a trash receptacle. Banana peels, gel packs, and car keys should not find their way into the bowl. Think about the poor person who has to fish those items out before the bio waste can be dealt with.

Why the Long Run (or Walk)? Or a distance athlete walks into a bar…

For as long as I have been a distance athlete, I’ve done a long run once a week. My first long runs were six grueling miles on the country roads of Bloomington, Indiana as a high school cross country athlete. Nowadays, I can log up to 30 miles during a long run if I’m training for an ultra event. And although it’s practically a distance running cliche, I believe the long run is the most important run of the week.

What is a long run? Why is it so important? What’s going on under the hood, so to speak? And what is up with this bar and where is the bartender? I will try to shed some light on the former three questions, but you’re on your own with the last one. What exactly is a long run and what you are getting out of it?

Author’s note: While I am using the term “long run” throughout this post, please note that the same training guidelines and physiological concepts apply if you are a distance walker and not a runner! Get after it!

What is a “long run”?

The short answer: it’s the longest run of the week. Shocking, I know. The distance and duration will vary depending on the race you’re training for. If you are training for a half marathon, your long run will be less than someone’s who is training for a marathon. In order to facilitate the necessary physiological changes for performing well at longer distances (i.e. full- and half-marathons), the total time of a long run should be more than 90-105 minutes regardless of pace.

Why are “long runs” important? And what’s going on under the hood?

  • Energy Efficiency: Running long distances improves your body’s ability to store glycogen (energy in the form of stored carbohydrates), handle glycogen depletion (when your body starts to run low on fuel), manage muscle fatigue, and use fat in conjunction with glycogen as energy.
  • Muscle Adaptation: During your long run, the cells that make up your muscles increase in size by adding more fibers (the parts that contract) and mitochondria (the parts of the cells that use oxygen to generate energy). There is also an increase in enzymes–which ultimately increases the rate at which delivered oxygen can be used to create energy. And finally, more capillaries become active within exercising muscles, delivering oxygen to and removing waste from them more efficiently.
  • Running Economy: Simply put, running long increases your body’s ability to utilize oxygen more efficiently.
  • Aerobic Capacity: Most runners, especially new runners, are greatly held back by their lack of aerobic capacity (a measure of efficiency, as described above). The biggest gains you can make in overall performance come with increasing aerobic capacity, and running long is one of the best ways to do that.
  • Mental Toughness: News Flash — When running long distances, there is likely some amount of discomfort that you have to manage. If this hasn’t been your experience, I would suggest maybe running farther or faster. Anyway, the more you run long the better you will be at handling the discomfort–emotionally and physically.
  • Specificity of Training: This means that the system you stress is the system that improves. So basically, if you are training for a long distance race, you are going to get the most benefit from running long distances. Micheal Jordan didn’t become a great basketball player by riding a bike!

Final Thoughts and A Word of Warning

So now that I’ve unlocked all the mysteries behind the long run (or walk), you’re ready to get out there and go for as long as you can the next chance you get, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that. To minimize your risk of injury, you need to build up your long run over time and in a responsible manner. That means that if the longest you’ve ever run is 6 miles, it’s probably not a good idea to go out for 16 miles tomorrow. A good training program (especially for newer runners) will increase your long run duration over the course of a training cycle (e.g. 12-16 weeks for a half- or full-marathon) and typically have 1 recovery week per month where the distance of your long run is decreased.

I hope that this information has helped you better understand why it is beneficial to incorporate a long run or walk into your training and what you are getting out of it. If you think I got something wrong or left something out, be sure to let me know in the comments. Also, if you liked this blog post, next time you see me out in the real world shout “Mitochondria!” so I know you read the whole thing!