Sound to Narrows: Spring training survival guide
These nine weeks are loaded with potential: you have time to build base fitness, get some weeks of structured workouts in and then home in on your goal June 9.
These nine weeks also have the potential for plenty of rain, snoozing your alarms, excuses and derailment. But not with this Sound to Narrows survival guide.
Make a plan
Create a training plan that is realistic for your current fitness, goals and lifestyle. The exclusive Sound to Narrows training and nutrition tips are the perfect place to start. Countdown starts at week nine (this week!), and each week has a rough training and nutrition plan ready for you.
If you’re starting at square one, or coming off a long break, apps like Couch to 5K can be incredibly helpful in creating a plan and sticking to it.
Once you have a rough weekly plan, it’s time to get granular. Each week, sit down and map out when and where you will do each run or training session. If you plan to supplement your running with strength or drills, map those out as well. If you leave workouts to chance, chances are you won’t do them, or you’ll be cramming them into your weekend, which can leave your burned out and injury prone.
After you map out your week, make sure you write it out where you can’t miss it. Whether that’s a handwritten list by the front door or on the bathroom mirror, or reminders set in your phone and calendar, make sure you hold your future-self accountable.
When you plan the week ahead, be realistic. This isn’t the time to plan for your ideal schedule, but rather your real schedule. If you have a long day of work and responsibilities on Thursday, make that your rest day. If Tuesday is open for three hours, load your longest run there or commit to some supplemental strength work. Make your plan work for you.
Track your progress
The best way to stay on track and motivated is to track your progress. Find the method that’s most rewarding (and easy) for you. You might love writing it in a training journal, like the Believe or Compete journal. Or you might prefer a digital tracker.
And no, you don’t need to invest in a GPS watch that costs hundreds of dollars. There are plenty of free apps that are up to the task.
Personally, I’ve used both written and digital tracking. When I’m busy, the last thing I have time for is written training journals, so I lean on Strava, an app to track running and cycling. It syncs with my watch and I can also use my phone to do the exact same tracking. I can set weekly goals and easily see my progress in the dashboard. Plus, there are great training articles on the site and challenges to join to keep myself engaged and motivated.
Weather-proof your plan
The reality of training in the PNW in the spring is … wet. It’s going to rain. So you need to weather-proof your plan.
The right rain gear
- Wicking socks: On really wet days, skip the cheap cotton socks and invest in some wicking socks like Drymax. When your feet get wet, you are prone to blisters. Nothing shuts down a good run like a bad blister. Wicking socks can keep your feet blister-free and far more comfortable than cotton, which will soak up the rain like a sponge.
- Shoe dryer: Pulling on wet (and stinky) shoes day after day can really be a deterrent (not to mention, disgusting). You can get a small shoe dryer on Amazon for around $20. It will pay for itself in no time.
- The right shoes: While we’re talking about shoes, get the right ones. This makes all the difference. Go to South Sound Running and get fitted for the shoes that are right for your level, gait and foot structure. You’ll have 30 days to try them risk-free. Until you know your shoe, don’t skip this step. You won’t save money in the long run (hello, time off, PT appointments and bad return policies). The right shoes are everything.
- Top layer: this is your investment piece in the PNW. Get a lightweight running jacket that is breathable and water resistant. You’ll still get a little wet, but if you don’t have a completely waterproof jacket you’ll be creating an uncomfortable wet sauna inside after a mile or so.
- Wicking base: Wicking layers are easy to come by these days, so make sure you have a few in rotation. Look for labels that boast wicking performance and find a weight that feels good to you.
- Hat or visor: Protect your eyes with a wicking hat or visor. There’s nothing like the rain dripping into your eyes for miles to drive you nuts. A simple brimmed hat makes all the difference.
Take it inside
Rather just avoid the rain altogether? Take it to the treadmill — a great way to mix up your runs. Sometimes in the chilly, wet PNW spring nothing feels as good as a sweaty treadmill session. Be sure to make a motivating playlist or queue up some bad TV to make the time pass.
Pro tip: Always have your elevation at 1.5 percent or more and play with it throughout the run to mimic running outdoors. Sound to Narrows is notoriously hilly, so you’ll want to prime your muscles to handle race day.
Check the forecast
While you won’t be able to avoid rain completely, you can plan your biggest workouts and longest runs for the nicest days on the forecast. Nothing like a sunny run to boost your spirits.
Yes, training is hard and spring is wet, but there are still lots of ways to make your Sound to Narrows training block fun. Now that you have the right gear:
Connect with runners IRL in Tacoma by checking out the weekly runs from South Sound Running, Fleet Feet Tacoma and more on Meetup. Or get connected online by using #runS2N when posting about your training. Follow Sound to Narrows on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Pump up the jams
Plug into podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to make a run fly by and even learn something while you’re at it. There’s endless options, so it’s easy to find a series to binge while you train.
Spice it up
Challenge yourself to try one new loop a week. And definitely plan at least one run to preview the course, which is beautiful.
End a run at your favorite coffee shop or bakery. Reward yourself for a week or month of training with a new running shirt or hat. Book a massage after a tough week of training. There are so many ways to treat yourself throughout your training block. And definitely plan a celebration or reward for after race day.
Now that you have your Sound to Narrows survival guide, you’re ready to crush your nine weeks of training. Stay up to date by following Sound to Narrows on social media and be sure to share your journey to the starting line with #runS2N. We’ll be cheering you on from now until that finish line!
About The Author
Sarah Robinson is a runner, mom, brand storyteller and writer living and training in Tacoma. She has been running and racing for over 20 years and was a 2016 Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon with a PR of 2:42:36. She has raced and won Sound to Narrows once, and remembers it as one of the toughest (and most fun) courses she’s raced.More stories by this author