The 36th Hood to Coast Relay will be my fourth, and first since 2004 when my team, “The NCIC All-Stars,” repeated as overall champions. As a 23 year-old, I felt bulletproof averaging sub-5-minute miles over all three legs. These days, I approach my training runs like an old man easing his way into a hot bath, but I’m hoping my dusty old playbook still holds the secrets. Here are five tips to ensure you stay healthy, happy, and fast for the world’s best relay!
Tip #1: Research Your Segments
Hood To Coast climbs over 7,000 feet vertical on a mix of asphalt and gravel roads. Additionally, prepare for massive downhill legs that will shoc-and-awe your quads into surrender. Try your best to simulate the topography you will be racing and embrace the training principle of “specificity.” Training on hills will make you stronger and serve you well as you cross over the coast range.
Tip #2:Prepare for the Heat!
Unless you have somehow been blessed with the powers of an evil solar-powered version of Superman (i.e., Nuclear Man) prepare for the heat by training at different times of the day. Additionally, get used to taking liquids while you train so you’re accustomed to it by race day. Nobody wants to drag a dehydrated teammate off the course and nurse them back to health with Glukos and watermelon-flavored Crystal Light. Pick up a variety of nutrition items and see which ones work best for you.
Tip 3#: Supercompensation before Enlightenment
In sports science, the theory of supercompensation has been well established. Training + recovery = elevated performance. But to really prep for hood to coast, your body needs to accumulate fatigue in training. No need for the all-mighty marathon 20-milers, but using a 48-hour period to accumulate 15–20 miles of harder running over three sessions will prep your body before the big one.
Tip #4: No Overtraining, Just Under-resting
Use a sinusoidal training schedule that incorporates a mix of hard running twice a week, and easy running or rest the other days. If you have it cranked to 11 all the time, your legs will undoubtedly feel like eight pounds of garbage stuffed into a six-pound bag. Not training at all is much, much worse, however. Keep a balanced body of work leading up to August 25th.
Tip #5: Embrace the Post-workout Recovery Routine
Many overtraining injuries can be avoided with a simple mobility and rolling routine. Pick up a foam roller and a massage ball to prevent tissues from becoming excessively tight, and use a mobility program to keep the tissues healthy and symmetrically balanced. This routine will come in handy on race day! Remember to consult your pit crew of sports medicine clinicians if you have any questions.