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HELP...Wheelchair Racing!!!

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    HELP...Wheelchair Racing!!!

    I'm a 26 yr old T10 complete para. I was injured last year April 21. Therefore, I'm fairly new to my SCI. With all that being said, I decide to get involved in wheelchair racing. I signed up to do a full marathon (26.2miles) which takes place in October. I'm pretty much self-training. I was hoping someone can give me tips or advice from people who are more experienced than I am. I would appreciate all the help I can get
    Last edited by 28darline; 6 Aug 2011, 10:05 PM.

    yikes, don't write cheques your shoulders can't cash. Might I recommend a handcycle if you can buy/beg/borrow/steal one? 26 miles in any type of wheelchair is very ambitious. Start training slow. I had been doing 3-5 km once or twice a week in my day chair this spring. Then one day I got smart and did 13 km (8 miles). My shoulders hated me for 3 days, I've never felt sooo crippled. Now I do long hauls on the handcycle, more fun anyway.


      I did about 20 marathons in race chairs, maybe 100 to 150 shorter races. Never injured my shoulders, most of my problems 40 years post injury (T10) have been due to big transfers. Train at least 4 days per week and you should do several 20 mile runs before marathon. Do not make any changes for a considerable period before marathon. While training do fartleks, alternating easy pushing w sprinting and dedicate days to hillwork. Carry a spare w CO2 cartridge plus tire irons, spare should be pre-stretched. Spectators will help you change tire if you flat out. As much as possible stay close to crown of roads, away from curb where you will find broken glass, etc.


        Chicago should have s wheelchair sports program, Look them up or contact the local recreation office to see if they have a name or number to call. Or contact the USA wheelchair sports organiztion. University of Illinois has a terrific w/c sports dept. They would be a great source.

        Have you got a chair yet. Ya don't want to do it in your everyday chair. Is it set up if you do.

        Have you tried a handcycle or any other adaptive equipment. Good for you on setting a goal. That's where it all starts.


          Also contact the Paralympic Sport clubs in Chicago, say you're looking for a track program or track coaching:


            I really appreciate all the advice! They are all helpful. I am currently training with an organized group 2 days out of the week but there really isn't any one-on-one time w/ a coach or anything. It's more like they are there if you need them, if not, you kind of just do your own thing. As for starting small, I definitely agree on that. Last week, I just did my first 5k which was not that bad considering that I usually push at least 5miles when I train. The most I've pushed during training is 10.4miles. I know that's not even half of the marathon but I'm still working on it =) I'm not gonna lie. Training in my racing chair is one of the hardest things I've gone thru. No pain, no gain right?! Lol. It's definitely a challenging sport and that's what I love about it. I don't have my own racing chair though I would love to have one! It's just something I can't afford right now. The chair I am using right now is a loaner til I complete the race. I have tried hand cycling, which I absolutely love as well!!! That's a great workout too and I would also one day would love to own one, but for some reason I'm just drawn to wheel chair racing.
            Last edited by 28darline; 7 Aug 2011, 4:48 PM.


              Good to hear you're in a racing chair and in a program.

              If coaching isn't available, take a look at the training resources on the University of Illinois website about fit, positioning, and strokes:


              Watch YouTube videos of excellent racers (Paralympians, etc).

              Figure out what you're going to do about water - you'll need access to water in a longer event like the marathon. Ideas include a water bottle cage in front of you with a water bottle with a stiff straw that you can reach without stopping, or a hydration backpack with a tube extension clipped to your collar or jersey.

              If there's any likelihood that it will rain during your event, put a couple of pieces of duct tape with a little klister (that's handball klister, not ski klister) on the tube in front of you where you can reach it while pushing.


                Katja. Thanks for your tips! I do watch YouTube videos of the Pros and it's very inspiring!
                As for water, my boyfriend bought me profile design water bottles that are made for triathlon bikes. He bought me 2 for the marathon to make sure I'm well hydrated. I'm not too sure on how much it holds but it definitely holds a great amount of water for me. It also comes with a stiff straw w/ an extendable tubing and very sturdy elastics to mount the bottles. My boyfriend mounted them on my racing chair in a perfect spot so it's easy for me to sip out of but at the same time doesn't get in the way. I need to look into the tape that you mentioned. That's a great idea. Do you push in a racing chair as well?


                  You're welcome. Sounds like you will do fine.

                  This is my second year of track - I am lucky to be in an area that has a great track program, sponsored by Boulder Parks & Recreation, with a good coach.

                  Klister is a gooey, tacky substance that is used on your rims and gloves when it's wet. Ideally you know ahead of time that you're going to be racing in the rain, and you spread a very small amount on your rims the night before. That gives it time to set up. But you DON'T want it on your rims if it's not wet, because your gloves will stick to it.

                  If it's iffy, some racers just squeeze out a little dab of it onto a piece of duct tape on their main tube; then if it does rain you can dab a little on the pushing surface of your gloves and regain some of the lost traction.

                  Also, since you're a girl, check out Emily McQueen's website A Girl's Guide to Wheelchair Racing, and maybe leave a comment there saying hello. You might meet someone else who is planning to push in your race.


                    It's nice that you have that program available to you! I hope track season is going well for you. As for the Klister, I will definitely check it out. Our weather here in Chicago is all over the place! You always need to be prepared =p I will make sure to pick up some of that. It's better to be safe than sorry. I'll check that site out. All this is new to me (forums). I'm glad it's there for us cause it's extremely helpful.


                      Which marathon are you running?



                        I've done the Chicago marathon a few times and its a great course so enjoy it. If 10.4 miles is the longest you have gone so far you need to start looking at increasing your long "pushes" on a weekly basis fairly soon since the marathon is 2 months away. The sites and tips Katja gave are good. Here's a few basic tips/thoughts for any marathoner that someone shared with me when I first started:

                        - Your goal in your first marathon should be to finish - do not worry about time

                        - Over train and you won't make it to the start, under train and you won't make it to the finish

                        - Take what the course/day gives you especially for your first marathon. If you are training at a certain level (say 5 minute miles) and on the day of the race you are slower than this don't worry about it. Take what is coming. If you are slower than what you have been training and at mile 15 or 16 you try to "catch-up" you can really burn yourself out not finish.

                        - You set personnel records (called PRs) in the last 6 miles of a marathon typically. Take what the course gives you over the first 20 and if you are really feeling good kick it up over the last 6.2 miles

                        - Make certain you do a nice taper. Tapering is where you don't push much in the last 2 weeks (or longer) before the marathon. Seems strange but the rest helps a lot. If you are not ready 2 weeks before the marathon trying to do a 20 mile workout a week before the marathon will not help.



                          I'm assuming its the Chicago marathon since you live in Chicago and its in October but it could another one. If it is Chicago be prepared for anything from 90 degree weather to snow.