A few years ago, a new challenge was added to the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend by putting runners up to the test of completing the UPMC Health Plan/UPMC Sports Medicine Pittsburgh 5K on Saturday followed by one of the Sunday distances (DICK'S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon or the FedEx Ground Pittsburgh Marathon Relay). Upon completion of your Sunday race, you earn the title of Steel Challenge finisher and earn some sweet bonus bling!
Yes, it is a challenge, that is why it is the called the Steel Challenge! Trust me though, with proper training and planning, you can have a very successful race weekend in May. As a finisher of three Steel Challenges (and numerous other multi-race challenges over the years), I wanted to share a few of my top tips for training and completing the 2018 Steel Challenge.
What are your Pittsburgh Marathon weekend goals? When coming up with your training plan for the Steel Challenge, you will want to think of what your plan is for the weekend. Do you plan to race or attempt to PR the 5K? Maybe you want to use the 5K as a shakeout run (a VERY popular strategy) and get ready to CRUSH Sunday's race. Whatever your choice is, go into your training with that strategy and practice it.
When you are training for a half marathon or full marathon, the thought of a 5K might start to feel like "it is JUST a 5K." Just like your long runs for your marathon, half marathon or relay leg, you need to train your body for a 5K the day before. It can be something as an easy 2 miles the day before your long run, but you need to get those extra miles on your legs. If your strategy is to run hard in the 5K, run hard on those training runs, however if you are using the 5K as a shakeout, take it easier.
After a run, I will admit that I like to treat myself to a little "splurge" for breakfast...I mean, donuts are tasty and a great treat. While you might be tempted to load up after the 5K, you will have to remember that the food/drink that you are putting in your body is going to be your fuel for Sunday. During your training, don't forget to practice what your race weekend tactics might be in terms of refueling from your 5K all while gearing up for Sunday's race. Trust me, save that crazy celebratory meal for Sunday after your cross that finish line.
After finishing Saturday's 5K, remember that your legs need to be ready for Sunday! No, I am not saying to sit around doing nothing, but you need to take care of those legs that have to carry you through the marathon, half marathon, or relay in a few hours. Take some time to foam roll, stretch, ice bath, epsom salt bath, or whatever it is that works for you. Those coming from out of town such as myself might want to spend the day on your feet touring Pittsburgh. That is ok for a bit to let those legs stay loose, but don't over do it. Tomorrow is a big day!
If you haven't signed up for Pittsburgh Marathon weekend, what are you waiting for!?!? It is going to be an awesome time and I would love for you to come run with me on May 6th!
Need an extra bit of motivation? Check out the 2018 Steel Challenge bling! I cannot wait to earn mine on May 6th!
Bonus: Once you register for the marathon or half marathon, you will receive a discount code in your registration email for $10 off of the 5K!
Now, who is joining me and becoming a Runner of Steel? GAME ON!