Winter is saying its goodbyes and the transition to spring brings about countless things worth smiling about. Longer daylight hours, warmer temperatures and of course for maple lovers it’s the time when the sap runs.
No matter where you are in your running career, spring can be a great time to lay the groundwork for an enjoyable, healthy and rewarding season of training and racing. We reached out to Maple Fanatic Pro’s Racheal Spaulding and Brett Mastrangeloto to learn more about how as runners they transition from winter to spring.
As a runner what excites you about the spring season?
Rachel: Spring season means getting back into the mountains! It was a long winter pounding pavement but springtime brings a different type of training; one I enjoy the most. During the winter I spend a lot of time daydreaming and planning big mountain routes to try out later in the spring. Additional daylight is exciting too; more time to play outside and less time worrying about remembering a headlamp!
Bret: Winter in Vermont is beautiful, but long. To me, spring means getting back to what I love most about running, back to trail adventures.
This excitement of spring is energizing, how do you make sure as a runner you don’t overdo it the first few times out?
Rachel: It is easy to run too much because of the sun and being able to go on different routes. I make sure to add additional easier efforts to my week and take the focus off of speed. Keeping track of my running with my coach helps as well; having someone keep me grounded has turned into a must for me not overdoing it. It also helps to maintain a level of fitness during the winter so you aren’t starting from scratch.
Bret: While getting out the door becomes easier in the warmer weather, it can be easy to overdo it. I am cautious not to run longer just because the weather allows for it. Like anytime of the year, I pay close attention to my running using Strava as a training log and plan out my week of running. However, I also look at the weather when I plan my week. If I see a day or two that look the nicest, I plan my longer runs for those days. I am also mindful to stay within my target goal of weekly mileage and to only increase week over week by no more than 10%.
What’s the best way to motivate to run regularly?
Rachel: I really love to run so getting out the door is rarely an issue! I think giving yourself some grace is always important on days where you might not be feeling it; allowing yourself to hike more than normal or not paying attention to data helps. I always keep my goals in mind if I need a little push out the door. A fun playlist and a different route helps a lot too! I spent most of the winter months on the road which helped build my excitement going into the spring.
Bret: “Consistency is key”, we all know it but finding ways to be consistent is incredibly challenging. For me, holding myself accountable starts with having goals. I know 5-6 hour adventure runs and 30-60 mile races are less miserable if I am in shape. Some days are tougher to be consistent than others, which is why it’s important to have running partners. My greatest adventure buddy is my trail dog, Summit. I also have a great friend and running partner who is an accomplished USA mountain runner that lives only a town over. It’s a lot easier to get up early if I know someone is waiting to meet me. One of my pet-peeves as an athlete is when I hear people say, “there isn’t enough time”. For me, it is about priorities. I have decided to make my running a priority and I treat it that way.
What about pre-post-run nutrition? What should I be eating and drinking before and after a run?
Rachel: Before a run I like to eat an UnTapped Waffle; it is light and easy to digest! If I am running for 90 minutes or more I am always fueling during the run. During these efforts I like to regularly consume Ginger Mapleaid and energy gels. I use the waffles for big mountain efforts to have sustained energy throughout a long run. Fueling during a run is a good step to kick starting the recovery process. For hard workouts and long runs I make sure I consume a large amount of protein within 30 minutes of finishing my run. If I have to drive home from the trails I pack post run fuel with. This is usually another waffle and some type of protein drink. Staying on top of my fueling has helped me run and then repeat the next day!
Bret: I can’t always plan what I eat 1-2 hours before a run but before big adventures I am more intentional about my nutrition. When I wake up, I enjoy my cup of coffee and a couple slices of whole grain toast. I typically like avocado or peanut butter on my toast. If I am driving a couple hours to a trailhead, then I’ll bring a banana to have at the halfway point. If I am hungry as I roll into the parking lot this is a great time for a pre-run UnTapped Waffle. I keep a container in my car stocked with UnTapped waffles and syrups because I just never know when I might wish I had some. After my run, I love my smoothie bowls. Nut milk, banana, berries, vegan protein powder, nutritional yeast, chia seeds, and acai mixed into granola. This has become one of my favorite recovery meals. I am also mindful to drink lots of water after my runs, something I don’t do enough of pre-run.
As temperatures rise, so does our sweat rate. Even an increase in 5 degrees can significantly increase an athlete’s fluid needs. How do you ensure you are staying hydrated during your runs?
Rachel: Like I mentioned, if the run is about 90 minutes I am carrying fuel with me. As the temperature starts to increase I will even carry an electrolyte drink for an hour run. You have to train your gut to adjust to the new weather patterns as well as all of the fuel you need to be successful! I like to drink regularly throughout the run and I have a timer on my watch that goes off every 40 minutes to remind me to eat a gel.
Bret: With warmer weather, I do a few things differently. On my long trail runs I bring my water filter that attaches to my bottle. It is only a few ounces and it allows me to drink as much as I want. As the weather becomes humid, which brings excessive sweating, I bring a 2nd bottle filled with an electrolyte like UnTapped Maple-Aid. I don’t like my drinks thick or synthetic, which makes maple-aid perfect. During the run I also like to take a few UnTapped Syrups. I find that the all natural maple syrup is far more viscous and less dehydrating than competitors gels.
While nutrition and hydration are important aspects so isn’t your gear. What are your favorite ways to carry your fuel?
Rachel: You will always find me wearing my Saloman Sense Pro 5 hydration vest; it is my favorite way to carry fuel. The vest is very comfortable and light. For shorter runs I will use one bottle, longer ones two, and if it is a big mountain day I can stash a third bottle in the back. I prefer the vest over a handheld any day. I also love my Rabbit running shorts and prefer those on every run. They make shorts with a belt the entire way around which is great for storing gels and trash. I no longer wear shorts without pockets!
Bret: In order to carry my nutrition and water, I have a few different running vests I like to use. My smallest vest, the Salomon Agile 2, is still large enough to carry my filter bottle, a few waffles, a handful of syrups, and even a light windbreak and cellphone. If I need a few more things, I have a couple of larger Raidlight bags so I can carry more gear. I have one that even allows me to pack my Enlightened Equipment sleeping quilt, in case my running adventure goes beyond one day. I enjoy taking my cell phone because I like to photograph my adventures and share photos with friends.