What a lovely fresh weekend it has been. Very cold in the mornings these days. I had to be up early this morning and really didn’t want to a) get up in the dark and b) get out of bed until the air con (heating) was on – what a sook I am. Remembering the days in the UK when I used to run in the snow I really have become a lightweight!
Following on from the post I posted a couple of days ago with some running tips from Aussie champion runner Liam Adams – I have the rest of the interview to share today. I figured it was a bit long to post all in one go – and this one is concentrated on race day so the questions split nicely.
Tomorrow is the Sydney Half Marathon which I am intending on running next year and it just so happens Liam is running in tomorrow’s race so I want to wish him the very best of luck and everyone else running too :-)
Race day tips:
I don’t know about you but the last few races I have run I got very nervous and stressed before race day, and then on the day my poor husband has had to put up with my almost OCD tendancies to get to the race start! I have written a few posts about race preparation previously but Liam has given me some great tips to share with you all. Hope you find them useful.
1) Pre race food intake
Before race day, you should already know how well your body handles food before a session and/or race. Most Half Marathon races are in the early hours of the morning so you should have a little plan or routine in place. For myself, I find that if I eat within 3 hours of the race I run the risk of not feeling to well whilst racing or getting stitch. I tend to eat a large high-carb meal the night before the race in an attempt to satisfy my appetite for before the race & be well fuelled for the race. If you need a snack or have a meal before your race than maybe wake up during the night/morning, have a snack and go back to sleep for a couple more hours. Work out your best routine before the day so that it all goes to plan on race day.
2) Pre race hydration
You should start hydrating well before race day. Start at least a couple of days out from your race and maintain hydration until the end of the race. If you try to just hydrate in the last 24hours leading into the race, you can’t completely hydrate in that time and adapt to having that much water entering the body.
Zoe’s tip – to find out how well hydrated you are do the pee test! If your pee is brown you are seriously dehydrated – if light and clear – all good :-)
3) Wear appropriate clothing
Wear clothing that you will feel comfortable in for the whole duration of your run/race. Some people get caught up with how cold it is before a race and decide to run in their long sleeve or long tights. This is usually a decision that is regretted before the halfway mark. Your core temperature naturally warms up as the race goes on and the decision to over dress could lead to the body overheating. I find that the lightest most breathable material singlet is the best gear to wear whilst racing.
Zoe’s tip - I use a black bin bag and rip two holes in it and one for my head of course so I can wear it in the line up – and then discard as the race starts
4) During race hydration & Snacks
For optimal performance of the cardiovascular system, it is important to try and stay hydrated for the whole duration of your race. This might mean taking on water whilst running which can be a hard thing to do when exhausted. Practice taking on some water in lead in races or sessions and see how well the body handles it.
As for snacks during the race, many people use energy gels. These also takes quite some getting used to so practice using gels at the later stages of your long runs.
5) Pace yourself
If you go out too hard at the start it can be quite a battle to get to the finish line. Ultimately the best way to run a Half Marathon is to run even splits the whole way but you can also run quite well going through the halfway mark just outside your goal target.
Tips to pace yourself:
- It’s better to be slightly off pace and come home strong than going out to hard and blowing up.
- Be controlled and relaxed at the start. It might feel ridiculously easy at the start but you will slowly start to notice that the pace starts to get hard as the race goes on.
- Have the split times that you want to run on your hand and check to see if you are on pace when you run past the split markers.
6) Prepare to battle the mind
Your mind can be quite the limiting factor when it comes to the later stages of a race. You’ve always got to positively reinforce yourself that you are running well, that you’re strong enough to push harder, or that you strong enough to maintain the pace. When you start having negative thoughts and doubting yourself, then you start giving into the physical exhaustion and won’t run anywhere near your maximal potential for that race.
Tactics to draw attention away from physical exhaustions and those negative thoughts
- Try to correct form and run more efficiently. Technique usually goes out the window towards the end of the race so if you can hold good form then you will run more efficiently but the thought process in correcting form will also distract yourself from the physical pain that you feel. You can take off a lot of time by using this technique.
- Set mini in race goals/targets, concentrate on catching the next person then the person after that
- Concentrate on the support from spectators, remember a race/session that you finished strong in and convince yourself that you are going to do the same etc.
7) Celebrate and reward yourself
A lot of runners enjoy just getting that satisfying feeling also known as the ‘runners high’ after completing the half marathon, but why not also reward yourself with a massage or treats that you have deprived yourself from in the lead up to your race. For most, a half marathon is a distance that is quite deserving of a reward or celebration.