Absolutely THE Atlanta July 4th Event. First run in 1970, the iconic Peachtree Road Race is now the largest 10K in the world, with 60,000 runners and countless spectators cheering them along the sidelines. From serious competitors, to charity fundraising groups to bucket-listers, masses gather in patriotic celebration for the annual event following a course through the heart of the city — starting at Lenox Square, down Peachtree Road, all the way to the big finish in Piedmont Park where the party will continue way into the firework-spangled night. And it’s only a few weeks away…
Did you make the cut this year, happily clutching your race number confirmation in your sweaty palm? If so, are you ready to run? We asked Big Peach Running Co. owners for last-minute preparation tips to help push through that final stretch.
The IDEAL scenario? You’re a dedicated runner, committed to your training regimen. You monitor your nutrition and you were professionally fitted for new running shoes a couple of months ago. Great. If you’ve already got a good plan, stay the course and keep doing what you’re doing! Now, if those running shoes are getting a little too worn, maybe more than 6 to 8 months old, get another pair of the exact same kind.
Or, did this whole thing kinda creep up on you? Maybe you signed up with a group of friends and you’re just now looking at the calendar realizing you are totally unprepared? Best laid plans, yadayadayada … now you are in Damage Control Mode. It happens. Too late for a complete training overhaul now, but there are still ways to put your best foot forward.
Don’t let race day be the first time you’ve ever tried running in the Georgia heat. Those downtown buildings and asphalt only amplify the sweltering July temperatures, so do yourself a favor and practice. At least once or twice beforehand, go out in the hottest part of the day to acclimate yourself to the impact. Use some common sense — take a water bottle, pick a route close to home and tell someone where you’re going. Actually, that’s good advice for running anytime!
SHOES & SOCKS
There are more shoe choices than ever before. Don’t be intimidated. The whole process might be confusing, but it’s a crucial part of running health and safety. The wrong shoes can contribute to all sorts of strains and injuries, stopping you in your tracks. A thorough Big Peach fitting includes a digital scan of your foot and video analysis of your gait. Shoe specialists teach customers what to look for in a shoe — no brand loyalty here — focusing instead on providing the tools needed to make independent selection. A quality pair of performance socks keep feet cool and dry in those shoes, aiding in protection from painful blistering.
HYDRATE & REST
Start monitoring your water intake well before the race. For the final couple of weeks of preparation, make a point to increase hydration all during the day, not just before and after your runs. There will be plenty of hydration stations along the race route, but for running on your own pick good water bottle.
Good sleep patterns also help strengthen training. Your body needs rest to regenerate and maintain conditioning. Get those 8 hours each night; upon waking, drink a glass of water and have a nice morning stretch.
Sunny or cloudy, Georgia in July brings intense heat and calls for exceptional sunscreen. Race day is no exception. Look for sweat-resistant, water-resistant, high-SPF sunblock to guard against those searing rays.
Chafing. Ouch. Whether from skin-to-skin contact or fabric edges, chafing can burn you hotter than the sparklers. When you sweat, the liquid may evaporate or be absorbed into clothing, but the salt left behind sticks to the skin causing friction. Even the best athletic garments on the market can rub you raw when saturated with perspiration. Anti-chafe products applied liberally reduce this friction.
Revolutionary fabrics used in stylish activewear keep you looking good and feeling good while running. These high-tech threads are fashion forward and designed to withstand the rigors of tough exercise. Shorts and tanks cut for maximum mobility allow for unrestricted movements, whereas good support bras restrict as much movement as possible!
Be prepared for the chaos of race day. You’re NOT just going to park at Lenox and get moving, not with roads blocked for the event and 60,000 other runners (plus all their fans) trying to get to the same place. In addition to the crowds, the point-to-point race course means finishing far from the starting line. Taking MARTA offers the best solution, but even that requires some advance consideration. Make a plan. Visit the Atlanta Track Club’s designated Peachtree Road Race website for tips and tricks. Check out the Peachtree Health and Fitness Expo July 2nd and 3rd at Georgia World Congress Center. Having a strategy will make your day that much more enjoyable. With heightened security this year, allow for both extra time and patience.
Big Peach Running Co. caters to all runners, at any level, with service and information. The owners strive to create a supportive environment encouraging responsible running through a wide range of resources — from individual clinics to large group runs to RUNATL training programs. Whether you’ve just begun or logged more miles than Forrest Gump, Big Peach is the place to go to make the most of your running experience. Thanks for tips, Peachy!
Special thanks to Ashby Webber for bringing her camera along to take fabulous in-store pictures at the Big Peach Running Co. Marietta location.