Finish Line

Toastmasters Project # 2: Organize Your Thoughts

Project Goals: There are four aims for this speech:

  • Use an outline which aids understanding.
  • Transition smoothly from one point to the next.
  • Craft an effective speech opening.
  • Craft an effective speech conclusion.

These are fundamental skills that you apply to every speech you’ll ever deliver, whether it is a 2 minute off-the-cuff speech, a 15 minute business proposal, or a 60 minute keynote.

Delivered 11/9/16 | Awarded Best Speaker Ribbon

In 2008, I was a couch potato, a smoker, and I was out of shape. One evening, I went to a charity event and sat at the bar with a Yuengling in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Three beers later I signed up for a full marathon and it changed my life. Since becoming a runner, I’ve completed 2 full marathons, 12 half marathons, and a handful of 10ks and 5ks. Each time I train for a race, there are a few things that I know I must do to succeed.

Today, I’m going to share with you the 3 most important tips to help prepare you for your next race. These are true for any distance…whether you’re getting ready for your first 5K or your 3rd marathon.

Tip #1 is to create a realistic training schedule

The idea is to start out with doing a little and slowly increase the number of miles. According to Dr. Jack Scaff, the first doctor to prescribe running as therapy for heart disease said you should increase your mileage no more than 10% each week. He called it the 10% rule. What I like to do is to start with the race date and work backward. So, if race day is 13.1 miles, then the weekend before should be a 12-mile long run and the weekend before that should be 11-mile long run.

When I began training for my first race, I couldn’t run a mile. My schedule had me starting out at 2 and 3-mile runs but it wasn’t realistic, so  I adjusted them and started out with 1 mile runs. I remember the feeling of accomplishment when I ran that 1 mile non-stop and I thought, “okay, see? I can do this.”

Tip #2 is to cross train

Cross training is really any exercise that uses different muscles. Swimming, biking, yoga, weight lifting, even walking are all good cross training activities. They help prevent injuries and can make you a stronger runner. When I started out, I learned the hard way. I had weak leg muscles, and I ended up with a minor knee injury because I wasn’t cross-training. It set me back a little in my training schedule but it healed, and I started strength exercises to make it stronger.

Since then I’ve added weight lifting to my training schedules, and it has made all the difference. One year while training for a half marathon, I was taking a weight lifting class twice a week, and after a month I noticed I was faster. My pace was 1 minute faster. That meant I could finish that 13 minutes sooner and beat my personal record. That was the 2011 Savannah Half, and I was registered but actually didn’t run it because I was pregnant. I was 5 months and ran a 10-mile training run, and towards the end, that baby made it clear to me that it was time to stop. So, I listened to him and put my running on hold until after he was born.

Tip #3 is when you eat is as important as what you eat

Carb loading 24 to 48 hours before a big race will give your body the energy to keep going during the race. Sometimes a pasta dinner isn’t enough for a longer race. That’s why I’ve been known to pack a PB&J in my pocket to eat around mile 15 so that I don’t hit a wall towards the end of the run.

For breakfast, the best pre-race meal really varies based on the individual. You basically have to figure out what works with trial and error. Some people can’t eat before they run or they need a full blown meal. Some can grab a light snack and go. High protein low-fat meals are recommended, but the most important thing here is to find what works and don’t change it on race day. If you’ve been eating a piece of toast with peanut butter and a banana one hour before your long runs then that’s what you need to eat and hour before your race. Don’t try anything new on race day.

So, let’s review…We talked about (Tip 1) creating a realistic gradual training schedule and increasing your weekly mileage no more than 10%.(Tip 2) Cross train to avoid injuries and keep your body strong enough to go the distance. And (Tip 3) Know what to eat and when. That means you need to carb load a day or 2 before the race and don’t try any new breakfast foods on race day.

That’s it! If you have zero experience (like me back in 2008) or if you’re a seasoned runner and no matter what distance you’re training for…these tips will help get you to the finish line.

Leave a Reply