Thursday, April 3, 2014

Just 15 days before Race to Robie Creek! Here are some training tips from Robie Cr. runners

Not far from the start ... (courtesy Idaho Statesman)
Are these guys going the wrong way? 
Near Aldape Summit 
Gotta love the encouraging signs along the way 
Near the finish
Course map, from Boise Trail Guide  (click to enlarge)
Hi all,

There's just a little over 2 weeks to go before the 37th annual Race to Robie Creek on Saturday, April 19. Have you been training? Are you ready?

I'm certainly no expert on long-distance running, so I asked a variety of veteran runners who have raced Robie Creek many times for their tips on training and race-day advice. Hope this helps with your training workouts for the "toughest half-marathon in the West!" I've been seeing a ton of people walking, running and biking on Rocky Canyon Road, getting ready for the big event. This year's race theme is "Killer Queen Robie."

BTW: Rocky Canyon Road is clear of snow all the way to Aldape Summit. There's some snow on the road on the other side of the pass, but I bet that will melt soon if it dries out and warms up.

These tips come from Boise Trail Guide: 75 Hiking and Running Routes Close to Home and recent interviews with people in the know:

Mike Carlson, former head coach, Boise Run/Walk
1. The 13.1-mile course climbs 2,100 feet over the first 8.6 miles to Aldape Summit and descends 1,700 feet over the remaining 4.5 miles.
2. Watch where you put your feet: You might find snow, ruts and/or mud spots on Aldape Summit on race day, especially during the first mile of descent.
3. The best way to prepare for any event is to simulate in training what you’ll be doing on race day. So if you’re training for Robie Creek that means you must train on hills. And what better hills to train on than those on the race course!
4. Run long in the hills once a week if you’re accustomed to running hills, or once every other week if you aren’t.
5. Practice good up and downhill running form. Run vertically (no forward lean) uphill and run perpendicularly to the grade on the downhill (slight full-body lean). Take three steps per second to maximize
efficiency and minimize the pounding.
6. Strengthen your inner core, leg muscles and tendons to improve your balance.
7. In April, the weather can vary greatly, but it’s typically fairly warm and often humid. Train in warm conditions—indoors or during the warmest part of the day—to prepare.
8. Good shoes and insoles will serve you well on the descent from Aldape Summit. Make sure your shoes and insoles aren’t worn out, but are broken in.

Andrija Barker-McCurry, formerly of Bandanna Running and Walking
1. Don’t ignore the downhills. Everyone trains for the climb but it seems no one trains for the downhill aspect of Robie Creek. The uphill works your engine, but it is the downhill that beats up your body.
2. Don’t get too technical, thinking you should only train on the course or similar terrain. Boost your maximum oxygen uptake by throwing in interval work. Example: Run 200 meter repeats on your local track. 200 meters moderate to hard followed by 200 meters walk or jog recovery. Also, hill repeats. Run uphill hard for 30-60 seconds, turn around and jog down.
3. Remember nutrition. It is not what you eat the night before, or even the morning of – the weeks leading up to the race are the ones that count.
4. Recognize that Robie is not your local nine o’clock 5k. It is vital to eat enough the morning of to correctly fuel your effort. My favorite is a hearty bowl of oatmeal, a banana, a small glass of juice and a piece of toast. Eat three hours before the race and then have a small snack or a GU 15-20 minutes before race time.
5. Nutrition during the race can be confusing. Glycogen depletion usually begins to take affect when you run over ninety minutes. So, plan on taking a GU or the like and a small amount of liquid if you are running over 90 minutes. If you’re out there over two hours, plan on at least two GU’s plus liquid.

Erv Olen, 65, who ran the Race to Robie Creek 22 times (My friend Erv died of cancer in 2008, very sad deal)
1. Start training at least four months before the race (January 1st).
2. Run hills one day every other week. Start with 6 miles (3 up, 3 down), and work up to 12+ miles. I suggest running on the Robie Creek course.
3. Gradually increase weekly long runs to 16 miles.
4. Include weekly speed work. Alternate the following workouts: Start with 4 each 400 meters on a track at 5K pace with 200 meter slow jog in between. Build up to 6 each 1/2 mile intervals at 5K pace. Do hill sprints about 300 meters each. Start with 4 and work up to 8. Let heart rate get down to 100 beats per minute before repeating.
5. Every other week, do tempo runs. Start with 3-4 miles, work up to 6-8 miles. Run pace should be 15 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace.
6. Stretch well before and after workouts. Do easy runs in between hard days. It helps to do weight work 2 or 3 days a week. One rest day a week is a good thing.

Marguerite Lawrence, a frequent Race to Robie Creek participant
1. When training on Rocky Canyon Road, I recommend for the longer runs (8-10 miles), running a shuttle part way up the hill so you don’t have to run all the downhill on your way back.
2. For safety reasons, I don’t recommend running solo on weekdays in Rocky Canyon; however, on weekends in March and April, there are many other runners out there.
3. I run the summit two weeks before the race.

Mike "Shu" Shuman, owner of Shu's Idaho Running Company.
Race-day tips:
Shu in action 
1.  Carry your own water. Yes, there are water stops, but if you have trained carrying water it certainly will not hinder you. There have been many times while running Robie that I have wanted a drink or needed to Gu and not been anywhere near a water stop. Remember, when running Robie Creek you are pitting yourself against the mountain and she isn't forgiving. Therefore, you need to be as prepared as possible, so Carry Water!
2.  Take off your rings before leaving home. One of the most common things I hear from people that are in the "pack" is that their hands swell.  Mine always do. So, get rid of the jewelry!  If your hands do start to swell keep them above your head for awhile.  If you are a walker this seems to happen more often so
remember to keep your arms bent and in a pumping position instead of letting them hang at your sides so your blood doesn't pool in your hands.
3.  Wear gloves. The temperatures on Robie can go from one extreme to the other. Regulating your temp by putting gloves on or taking them off is a very easy thing to do.  I have had to put them on and off several times in the same race!
4.  If you get to the point to where you feel like you can't take another step running or walking (and you will get to that point) turn around and walk backward for a little while. It really helps because you are using different muscles and you give others a little time to rest. Another benefit to doing this is people will ask you what in the world you are doing.  Then you can tell them. Just by taking your mind off how you feel and talking to someone helps because you aren't so focused on your pain. This is a physical and mental break!
5. Be Rocky!!!  As you head up Shaw Mountain Rd. at about the 5th turn there is a family that always plays
the Rocky theme. Enjoy it while you are still fresh enough to do so! Laugh, dance and have fun.
6.  One of the best tips I would give to anyone about running Robie Creek is Don't Be Shy!!! Talk to the
other people around you. Just think, those people near you have covered the same distance you have in
about the same amount of time you have so they are probably feeling about the same way you are. Start a
conversation. Ask how they trained for the event. Share about how you trained. Conversation helps the
time go by faster and make the running easier because you aren't thinking about it.  Besides, you might just
learn something from that person and they could be a potential running partner some day.
7.  Send a change of clothes up in the Toad Mobile. The finish line and party are very crowded and it is
difficult to find people at times.  You want to change when you get there, not look for the person that has
your clothes. Put in clothes for warm and cold weather. You never know what it will be like at the
park.  Pack extra shoe and socks and a pair of sandels can feel great too. Be sure to mark you bag in a way
that will make it easy for you to find it.  ALL BLACK BAGS LOOK ALIKE!  Put bows on it or something!
8.  Enjoy yourself!  The memories of the pain does fade. Guess what? You'll get hooked and wonder what
you are doing back there next year!

What did we forget? Do you have other tips or suggestions? Please provide in the comments, section.

Have a great Race to Robie Creek!
- SS

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