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Friday, January 25, 2013
Make sure you're prepared from head to toe

By Summer Sanders

Summer on the Run is a 12-week blog and video series that follows former Olympic swimmer and avid runner Summer Sanders on her journey to train for Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she will share training tips, and a little inspiration, as she gears up for the main event. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.

I've always been taught that you lose heat from the top (your head) and bottom (your feet). It's as true for running as it is for swimming. When you work out in the winter, you lose a ton of energy from your head if you don't cover it. You're working too hard to give up that energy. The fix is as simple as putting a beanie on.

On race day, wear a hat until the very last second at the starting line; at many races, you can leave your extra gear at the start, and it will be donated to charity. If you're wearing your favorite hat or sweatshirt, give it to a friend just before you line up so you can stay warm as long as possible.

It is so important to have good sneakers, too; they are the piece of equipment that affects your body with every step you take. Get a pair you like -- buy two, in fact -- and switch between the sets as you train so you'll have two pairs that are perfect for you at any given moment.

What you wear for your long runs and on race day is as important as what you drink, and they are actually interrelated. Your drinks and nutrition are part of the gear you need for any run. After your long run this week, check out your innermost layer to see where you have white marks on your clothing -- that's the salt and sweat you've lost. If you have heavy white marks on your clothing, outlining your body, then you sweat salt. That means you should include salt in your pre-run meals, add it to the fluids you drink during your run or carry salt packets to eat once or twice during your race. It's different for each of us, so you have to check it out for yourself.

During your longest runs, you can carry a sports drink that includes sodium. It's not just water you need, but the electrolytes that keep you hydrated. You are the best judge of what and how much you need.

Most of us are glad to have every ounce of energy we can muster on race day. A big part of that is drinking water and avoiding things that are dehydrating in the days before your long runs and race. It's not just one day that matters. Be sure to drink plenty of water and take in nutrients the night before and the morning of your long run or race. It's all fuel for your body.

No matter what products you use, make sure you are also equipped with a source of carbs that you find easy to eat during your race. Always wash it down with water or a sports drink to avoid an upset stomach. If you carry your own nutrition and water, you won't have to wait for a fluid station, and you can have that pick-me-up whenever you need it.

Summer is on the hunt for some new running sneakers to wear during Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24; tweet her at #GoRun to share your favorite kicks so she can find the perfect pair. You may even see her wearing them for her race!