Clear Race Day Hurdles with Tips from a LifeTime FItness Expert

Cheryl Zitur from LifeTime Fitness shares how to start your race with a burst, not a stumble.

Races are plentiful around the Maple Grove area during the spring and summer months, and plenty of residents enjoy gathering at races in support of causes and charities or to foster their competitive spirits. While the pound of concrete under a runner’s feet and the feeling of air pumping through their lungs can be invigorating, there are some hurdles to clear during every race day. Cheryl Zitur, a trainer at LifeTime Fitness for over four years, highlights a few pitfalls on race day and provides tips to avoid them.

Make sure that you’re hydrated before the event, and continue to hydrate yourself during the race. Zitur recommends drinking extra water the few days leading up to the race. On race day, consume the amount you normally would; it will prevent you from using the bathroom  too often.

She also warns to not drink alcoholic beverages a day or two before the race. “It can dehydrate the body and disrupt sleep,” Zitur explains. As for salt intake, on average, an athlete should replace about 110 milligrams per hour. Sports drinks, like Gatorade, have about 200 milligrams of sodium per eight ounces.

Nutritional Deprivation
Eating before an event is very important and will give your body the fuel it needs to make it through the race. Consuming a good meal the night before the event will give you even more fuel to conquer your goal. “Have your last meal 8–12 hours before the event, and eat within a couple hours before the race,” Zitur says. She recommends a good balance of carbohydrates and proteins; chicken, vegetables and rice are all great options.

“Eat a big breakfast, usually within an hour or two of your event,” Zitur says. She recommends a good mix of protein and carbohydrates, like bagels, eggs, yogurt and bananas, before the race to give your body the extra push it needs to power through the day. She also warns runners to stay away from any foods high in fiber because it can cause stomach problems during the race.

Limited Training
Prepare for the race’s distance. “If you’re doing a half marathon or a marathon, you need to build up to that mileage,” Zitur says, recommending that you give yourself several months to train. For a half marathon, she advises 8–10 weeks, and for a 10K, she recommends about 6–8 weeks of training.

Inclement Weather
Minnesota’s weather is all over the place on the best of days, so make sure to look at the weather forecast ahead of the event. If it’s one of those scorching hot July days, dress in lightweight and breathable clothing and bring along extra water and sunscreen. Zitur suggests taking in some extra sodium and electrolytes the day ahead of the race. “Train in these conditions before race day if at all possible,” Zitur says. “And practice your nutrition and fluid intake then.”

Organize all the items you need the day or night before. “Have everything ready, so that when you wake up in the morning, you know where your race belt is or your race number,” Zitur says. Having all of these things set out ahead of time can help quell any added anxiety.

Race Day Doubts
While it may seem like a daunting task, competing in a race can be a lot fun and provide a sense of accomplishment. “A lot of people can do a 5K. They can walk it,” Zitur says for those unsure of their running abilities. “I just encourage people to try something new and to not be afraid.”

Ready, Set, Run

Free to Run 4 Miles July 4. 8 a.m.,

The Great Amazing Race: Minnesota family-friendly adventure/obstacle race. July 8. 3 p.m. $49.99-$79.98. Kenwood Park, 2101 W. Franklin Ave., Mpls.;

Night Nation Run –Twin Cities: July 14. 8:30 p.m. $29.99-$49.99. Harriet Island Park, 200 Dr. Justus Ohage Blvd., St. Paul;

Tough Mudder July 14 and July 15,

2018 Urban Wildland Half Marathon & 5K July 28. 7 a.m. $32-$60. Richfield Ice Arena, 636 E. 66th St., Richfield; 612.861.9369.;