Pre-race tips for running success

The 46th Crescent City Classic is Saturday, March 30.

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans is just one day away from the start of the 46th Crescent City Classic, and the annual running event is expecting 15,000 participants on this year’s start line.

The Classic attracts people of all ages – and fitness levels, with organizers saying more than 60 percent of participants choose to walk rather than run.

But whether you’re gearing up for a 10k or lacing up for a casual jaunt around the neighborhood, world-renowned sports performance specialists – and WWL health and fitness experts – Mackie Shilstone and son, Spencer, say “getting the body right” before pounding the pavement is paramount for success at the Crescent City Classic or any run for that matter.

Here are a few pre-race tips to help runners go the extra mile:

Meet a runner’s best friend – shoes

According to Mackie, the single most important thing a runner can do is purchase the right running shoes. Whether you supinate, pronate or stand somewhere in the middle (neutral), the selection of proper footwear can make all the difference in running success and safety.

Mackie says, 70 percent of runners make first impact to the ground with their heel. So heavier runners will require a heavier heel counter because when the foot strikes the ground, the body weight is magnified by 5-7 times – five times in a moderately fit person, and seven times in an out-of-shape person. 

“If you don’t have the right running shoes where you have a thumbnail difference between your big toe and the end of the shoe, if you don’t have the right lateral mechanics,” explains Mackie. “Many people will go out and try and do this and have not prepared. So preparation in getting the right running shoe, that’s for you.”

Podiatrist-prescribed custom orthotics can also provide a substantial – and now affordable – solution.

And he says never, ever wait until race day to break in a new pair of kicks.

Roberts, who also leads a run club for the Louisiana Running + Walking Company, once again supports Mackie’s suggestion on breaking in new shoes.

“I always recommend at least getting a few runs in even the week prior if it’s a new pair of shoes,” said Roberts. “But don’t pull them right out of the box on the day of, especially if it’s a completely different change [of shoe]. So, if you’re going into it with a new speed shoe thinking you want to try something faster…don’t recommend it.

“You might injure yourself, and you’re putting yourself at higher risk of having to sit out for a longer period.”

Fueling the body is high-performance

Sodium is important because exercise lasting 60 minutes or longer is going to require the replacement of electrolytes. Anything longer than 90 minutes will require the intake of carbohydrates. 

“Fueling the body is high-performance,” said Mackie. “Mis-fueling the body is tantamount to disaster.”

Mackie says most sports drinks do not provide enough sodium, which is needed to effectively use the glycogen in your liver and muscles and circulatory system.

“I’m not telling anyone on a hypertensive-type diet (less than 1,500mg per day) to go out there and increase your sodium,” said Mackie. “[But] the requirement for sodium sits up there around 2200 milligrams.”

Mackie also warns against the intake of fiber before a long run – or race – like the Crescent City Classic.

“You don’t want any fiber in the diet,” explained Mackie. “You don’t want to have to go in and unfortunately have to use the toilet because your nature calls.”

Truth about carb-loading for the Crescent City Classic

Mackie claims carb-loading for events such as the Crescent City Classic can be recipe for disaster. He explained that a moderately fit runner – someone running between 15-30 miles per week – can expect to finish a 10k in approximately 50 to 70 minutes. This means heavy carb-loading the night before can be excessive and counterproductive.

“Carb-loading simply means everybody’s going out and eating a lot of pasta,” explained Mackie Shilstone. “But let’s let’s go back to basics. Let’s go back to human physiology. We’re talking about 10k (6.2 miles). We’re talking about the liver and muscle and circulatory system of the average person out there is 2,000 calories. You burn 100 calories for every 10 minutes of exercise.”

Former Tulane runner and local running coach Aislinn Roberts agrees with Mackie.

“Don’t go crazy on those carbs,” the Willow School alum told WWL. “I know everyone starts thinking about it, but if you do go crazy, you might upset that stomach. So, it’s kind of important to make sure that you’re not going overboard with all that.”

‘Movement is medicine’ | Benefits of stretching for health

Warming up before exercise is an essential part of your pre-workout or run routine.

As a specialist in corrective exercise and performance enhancement, Spencer Shilstone says static and dynamic stretches not only optimize athletic performance, but also provide greater overall health benefits for everyone – including those in a sedentary lifestyle.

“Stretching is very important to activate your body,” explained Spencer. “Movement is medicine and whether you’re just sitting at a desk for a really long time, you’re getting your hip flexors very tight. So, you could be going for a race or you could be getting up from the desk. It’s important to stretch out and mobilize your body.

Optimize your run with this pre-race stretch routine

WWL Louisiana health & fitness experts Mackie and Spencer Shilstone demonstrate several static and dynamic stretches to help make your next run one of your best.

Find complete registration information for all CCC events and activities here.

Those interested in signing up for Saturday’s race can do so at the CCC Health & Fitness Expo located in the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

Last-minute entries close Friday at 7 p.m.

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