By Josie Piccinic, Physical Education Teacher & Track Coach
I’ve been running for many years, all through high school, college and after college as well. As a top-level competitor there are many things that I have learned which have helped to improve my performance. As a runner there is nothing more important than being consistent and dedicated to your sport. If I wasn’t happy with my times, I would always try something else to improve them.
I have learned important things from coaches, and from my own research and experience:
(1) Always get a good night sleep before the race – research shows this will greatly benefit your performance;
(2) Plan what you’re going to wear based on current weather conditions/forecasts;
(3) Don’t vary your diet the night before the race – the last minute is not the time to experiment with food;
(4) Clip your toenails;
(5) Drink plenty of fluids;
(6) Don’t worry about the weather, just try and prepare for it;
(7) Relax as best you can – visualize yourself running fluidly and effortlessly in the race;
(8) Read a good book or watch a diverting movie;
(9) The more relaxed you are going into the race, the better you’ll perform; and
(10) Find a couple of training partners – training buddies make a workout session fun and competitive, and the training effort will seem to go much faster.
My good friend and one of my most influential coaches, Steve Tarpinian, explained to me the benefits of cross training, so I added it to my training program to improve my running. I started swimming and joined a triathlon team that Steve had created (Team Total Training). This has improved my running times and general fitness level. Also, I added weight training, which is a must for any serious athlete since it strengthens all of the muscle groups of your upper and lower body.
Another very important component to enhance mobility and prevent injury is stretching (it’s a must). Most cyclists and triathletes are very tight in critical areas which can lead to loss of power and possibly injury. Including a stretching program (Yoga/Pilates) in your training regimen provides a very important balance which will improve your overall performance on race day. After all, “BEAUTY IS IN THE BALANCE.”
Josie Piccinic is currently a physical education teacher and track coach in New York City. When Josie was younger her main goal was to compete as an Olympic athlete in the 1996 marathon. She had been training since the age of thirteen. She competed in many races against world class distance runners. While training for the Las Vegas Marathon in November, 1994, Josie was struck by a car, suffering from fractures of her right femur, left tibia and fibula, and the top left pelvis area. Josie’s injuries required several surgeries and a very lengthy recovery period. However, with Josie’s inner strength and support from her family and best friend ,Steve Tarpinian, Josie went from learning how to walk all over again to being able to pursue her passion for running. Josie now knows that she can face any obstacle both in running and everyday life.