Challenge Yourself: Enjoy the Rewards of Embracing Competition

Race in the right shoes for you.

Being active is fun and rewarding in itself, but adding an element of competition can take you to a whole new level.

Whatever your fitness level, there’s bound to be something out there that will light up your competitive spirit. Obviously, as an ex-competition sprinter, my thoughts always go to running first, but you can find a way to challenge yourself in any type of sport or activity. Maybe you could challenge a family member to a bike race, take part in a community activity day or join a swim team. I’m going to give you examples related to running a 5K, but my tips can be applied to any type of competition.

Related Article: Fitness Motivation: Be Strong. Be Beautiful. Be You.

I like 5Ks because they can provide a level of competition for all fitness levels. Maybe you can just challenge yourself by walking the full five kilometer course, or at the other end of the spectrum, you could try to complete the distance in the fastest time. Whether you are a seasoned athlete, a stay-at-home parent, or a weekend warrior, setting your sights on walking, jogging, or running a 5K is an achievable and rewarding goal.

To make sure you’re ready for competition, ask yourself these four simple questions:

To make sure you’re ready for competition, ask yourself these four simple questions: 

1.    Is my training routine the best routine for me?

Training for a competition is not a ‘one size fits all’ situation. Recognizing your own strengths and weaknesses will enable you to address the areas of your body that need work.

5K example: If you’re constantly tight in your hamstrings and hip flexors, then adding more extensive stretching to your training plan may help you run more freely.

2.    Do I understand how I need my body to perform?

Think about your competition—if you’re covering a long distance, then pacing yourself is vital. If you need a powerful start, then your training needs to focus on those first moments of your challenge.

5K example: A 5K race involves using your aerobic system approximately 80% of the time and your anaerobic system approximately 20% of the time. Following a training plan that trains both of these systems effectively can result in a faster time on race day! Training your anaerobic system will give you a confidence boost, too, because knowing you can “out-kick” people in the final stretch is a great feeling.

3.    Am I fueled efficiently both before and after training?

When it comes to an endurance competition, selecting quality fuel to power your training and eating high-quality foods to help you rebuild and regenerate after your workout is critical. Just like a car cannot run without gas, you cannot compete well on an empty tank. When you are preparing for a competition, make smart choices and ensure you are consuming beneficial carbohydrates and proteins.

5K example: Unlike running a marathon, when preparing for a 5K race, you don’t need to overload the night before with carbohydrates and fats because the duration of the race is so short. Carbs and fats are an essential energy source for high-intensity aerobic exercise, but your body probably has sufficient fat stores to call on if needed. As a result, you can focus on fueling up on quality carbs before your run.

4.    Does my equipment suit my needs?

Selecting equipment based on your personal needs can drastically improve your performance. When you first get started out on an activity, make sure you are comfortable and if necessary, protected. Then, if you decide to take part in an activity regularly, consider investing in equipment that’s tailored to you. Often specialized equipment can give you an edge, provide extra support or improve your technique.

5K example: Just because your friend loves to run in one type of shoe doesn’t automatically mean they are right for you. Did you know that excessive pronation (foot instability) can slow each stride down by 0.2 seconds? It may not sound like much, but when you think about how many strides you take in a 5K, that 0.2 seconds can multiply into a few minutes.

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.

Find out more at:

North Beach Nutrition - San Clemente Nutrition Bar - Offering Healthy Smoothies - Hot & Cold Tea - and Health Coaching To Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals. 1502 N El Camino Real San Clemente CA 92672