Tag Archives: race preparation

Training for a Half Marathon – Part 2 – Race Day Tips from champion Aussie marathon runner Liam Adams

18 May

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:

Image taken from moonee-valley-leader.whereilive.com.au

Liam Adams – Image taken from moonee-valley-leader.whereilive.com.au

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

Many people use Energy Gels such as these BodyScience ones in races.

Many people use Energy Gels such as these BodyScience ones in races.

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.

Tough run up Mount Cootha and Marathon envy

30 Jun

I ran up Mount Cootha this morning, up along the road and back and it was a tough 10.5k run, the longest I have run since I got sick, and I felt every stride. I felt great afterwards but whilst running it I really had to fight to not stop and walk. It was a constant battle to push myself to run especially up the steep bits.

It reminded me very much of some of my marathons I have run.

Tomorrow is the Gold Coast Marathon and I won’t be running any of it this year, not even the 5k, but I know a couple of people running the half, and a couple running the full marathon, and initially I was a bit envious. I imagine right now they will have all their kit ready, be full up on carbs, have their race number and timing chip ready to go, and anticipating the race tomorrow.

medals

I thought a bit further and started to think back to when I ran my longer races and ok maybe I am not so envious. It’s one of those things that you either love or hate. After I ran my first marathon in London, I signed straight back up to do the Dublin later that year and then I did Berlin and then I did Paris – my last one in 2006. By the time I got to Paris my heart wasn’t in it anymore and I struggled so much with the race both physically and mentally, but I got round and then hung my running shoes up for a while after that, promising my husband I wouldn’t put him through the 10 weeks of nightmare training that both he and I had endured.

I endured the long runs, the blisters, the constant hunger, the tedium of the 20 mile training runs and the tiredness – whilst he endured my pickiness over food (i.e. no spicy good as it might make my stomach funny for a run the next day), my constant early nights, grumpiness from being tired from training and my general obsession with everything marathon.

I was only talking to my friend today saying I knew someone that had entered the New York Marathon and I thought I had one marathon left in me and I would consider doing it a few years down the track, and I thought to myself ‘argh what are you saying!?!’ but running is in my blood, sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it but it’s there constantly and I go crazy if I can’t do it. I love long distance running but it has a place in parts of my life not all, currently I am running middle distance runs and am loving it but I am sure there will come a time where I am ready for those longer runs again.

So part of me wishes I was lined up tomorrow to run the 42km and part of me is very glad I am not. I am so proud of the races I have participated in so far and those I am sure are yet to come, and I wish everyone lining up tomorrow the very best of luck and ask that they put a stride or two in for me :-)

Have a great weekend

What do you eat the night before a race?

13 Aug

Just on way home to eat and get things ready for my race tomorrow and thought I’d just ask (if there’s anyone out there reading) what is your night before race diet?

I’m intrigued as a lot of people don’t bother too much what they eat, whereas others are meticulous in their race preparation.

I’ll be having some pasta with tomato based sauce and a little bit of garlic bread and a lot of water.

What about you?

Park2Park race coming up and a few winter running tips

16 Jul

This is actually a winter scene of Green park in London that I took. Don't have any wintery ones of Brisbane!

So training is going well so far this week.

I think I mentioned already that I’ve entered the Ipswich Park2Park. Nothing like a nice hilly 5k to get the legs going. I did my first training run last week around the course and it was -1!

I’m not too good at running in the heat but I actually don’t mind running in the cold. Maybe it’s my English upbringing and living that has helped. I remember running in the rain and the snow when I was running with the Belgrave Harriers back in 2003 ( I wasn’t one of the fast ones!)  training for the London Marathon and I loved it. The first few steps are not very nice when you get outside and your brain is screaming ‘what are you doing! It’s so cold’ but once you start running and warm up it’s great, much better than feeling like you’re running in a furnace in summer.

I’ve learned a few things from winter running though through mistakes I have made and through more experienced runners telling me and I’d like to share them with you.

Hydrate

I used to often forget to hydrate myself properly because it was cold and I still do to some extent and have and do suffer the consequences. Just because it is cold it doesn’t mean that you are hydrated and don’t need water so do what you normally do and hydrate before and during your running – don’t make the same mistakes as me!

Don’t dress for a summer run in the winter

In London in winter and also here in Brisbane too I have seen people running in little shorts and vests in the freezing cold – I have one word for those of you that do this out there – NUTTERS! It’s cold – so put some clothes on! If it is really really cold then run on the treadmill inside, but if you really want to run outside dress in layers that can be removed. Not heavy fleece type layers but like Nike Drifit or Adidas Climacool. What I usually do if I suddenly warm up and get too hot is to take a layer off and tuck into my running tights. Running last week in -1 I simply wore running tights, a long sleeved top, a short sleeved top and I was fine. I know my body and know when I do and don’t feel the cold.

Look after your head, hands and feet 

I don’t know about you but I can’t stand cold feet and I can’t bear cold hands and up to 30% of heat can escape from them on cold days. I have running lightweight gloves that I got from Ron Hill that I really like so I usually run wearing them or with my hands tucked into my long sleeved top. I’ve also been known to take a heat pack hand warmer with me on really cold days but have found that my hands get too hot – so it’s knowing what you need and what you are comfortable with.

Feet wise I haven’t really had a problem with cold feet but I know some people wear a very thin pair of socks under their normal socks for extra insulation during winter.

I haven’t mentioned head but it’s really important to keep the head warm as up to 40% of heat can be lost from the head in the cold. I have beany hats, caps and a little earmuff type bandana thing which I got from Aldi of all places for $4 – and it’s my favourite right now because normally my head gets too hot in a beany so this is perfect and I haven’t had any issues with a cold head yet. If it gets below -1 I might.

The most important thing is to know your body though, as if it gets really cold and your fingers start to tingle be cautious and get to somewhere warm quickly in case of frostbite. I have been lucky to never have this but know of a number of people that have.

Visibility

It tends to be darker in the winter and if you are running early in the morning or at night make sure you dig out your visbility vest. I have a couple and whilst I look like a bit of a glo worm in them I wear them religiously when running in the dark as I don’t want to be one of the unfortunate runners that a car doesn’t see.

Remember I am no doctor, I am just giving my opinion based on my running experiences so if you are concerned about running in the cold or have any health issues that might be affected always check with your doctor  whether it’s ok or run inside during the colder months.   

I have a race tomorrow and I am so not ready….

7 May

I seem to be developing a pattern this year when it comes to races – I get sick right before! I have the Mothers Day 8k tomorrow and I am feeling rough.

The last race I did which was the International Women’s Day race I was sick the day before and shouldn’t have really run the race but did and made myself worse , and tomorrow I have the Mothers Day 8k and I am feeling rough. This time instead of the day before it was the week before.

My husband and I caught some sort of stomach bug and were holed up in bed for a couple of days last week and what made it worse was I also had to do my driving test whilst feeling that way. One good thing that came out of it was I passed – Hoorah! It’s only taken  me 15 years!

So anyway I haven’t run in 7 days and i feel quite lethargic and generally like a couch potato so I have decided that I will run for fun tomorrow, push if I can but not take it too seriously because otherwise I will be disappointed with the time I do if it is not faster than last years race.

It’s a hard thing to say though as most runners that enter races do them for a reason be it to run a distance for the first time or beat a time they have already achieved. When lining up at the start line often my adrenaline is pumping so hard all I want to do is race off but having done that too many times now and paid the penalty I always pull back and stick to what I know. If I get to 5k and feel ok then I might push on but I’m not too concerned. My number one fan – my husband will be at the finish line cheering me on and that’s all that will matter :-)

So tonight I am about to go through my usual race ritual which is:

Get race kit ready – remembering safety pins for race number, charge Garmin, sort out tunes for iPod – I reckon I will need them tomorrow! also it’s cold in the mornings these days so a bin liner might come in handy too so I can throw it away when the race starts

Get food ready – it’s an early start

Have some carbs and plenty of water – ideally clear pee is a good indicator of being hydrated or a guy at work whose daughter runs said you should be going to the loo every couple of hours if you are hydrated properly although don’t want to be doing that through the night!

Relax – watch some TV and have an early night

And that’s pretty much it. I am sure I have missed things that I do but these will be the main things. I think I have written other posts on race preparation. Here’s one. 

Anyway I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow…

Need a running training plan/schedule to work to for 2011? Look no further…

9 Jan

I start my new schedule tomorrow which I intend to get me a PB for a 5k and 10k this year. It’s tough but I am determined that I will achieve it.

I found when I first started running that I really needed guidance of where to start and how to know I was really improving. One of the ways you can do that whether you have a goal in mind or not is to follow a distance training schedule. Whether it is 5k or a full marathon that you would like to aim for, there are a plethora of training schedules out there. I thought I would list some below which might be of use if you need guidance.

5k

Cool Running website gives a decent 5k training schedule for beginners

Trusted Runners World have a great article and training schedules for all levels for 5k

10k

Runners World again gives solid advice and schedules for 10ks for all levels

If you prefer something different I found a website by Jeff Galloway which gives a training schedule for 5 and 10k also.

Half Marathon

Feeling like you want to step up this year to do a half marathon? Try these schedules or all failing that follow the Gold Coast Marathon one which is an extended training program starting in February right through to the event in July. I did it last year. It’s a bit long winded as it goes for so long but if it’s your first time  or if you like structure, it might be just what you need.

Runners World do a great half marathon schedule and have them available for all levels. I used to refer to them often in my training and Runners World was set up by runners so they should know what they are talking about!

I found a schedule for two levels by Endurance Training website and they have a handy PDF you can download.

Full Marathon

I’ve run four full marathons in my running time and the key if you have never done one and are thinking about it is preparation and training. Training schedules for a full marathon I would say in my experience are really really useful. I always remember being lined up for the London Marathon, my first marathon and I had covered numerous training runs of 20 miles in my training and felt quite nervous but ready – and there was a girl stood next to me in the line up and we got chatting. I asked her how her training had gone and she was very timid and admitted she had only got up to a 10 mile training run and I thought ‘man’ you are either really fit or are going to really suffer.

Training for 42k (26.2 miles) is crucial.

Runners World again I reckon set the precedent for training schedules in this area. I haven’t recommended any others as I don’t think you can go too wring with their schedule and they give three levels again.

Full marathon plus - sorry you’re on your own! At this stage I reckon you know what you are doing! My South African friend runs the Comrades ultra marathon each year which is 84k and she does full marathons as her training!  I can’t even comprehend running this far but I know there are some of you out there…..enjoy!

All failing this, if you cannot find a decent training schedule to help you in your training then why not use one of the many online personal trainers that will devise one for you. I mentioned I have a friend in the UK who happens to be an international athlete who also does personal training and coaching online at a very reasonable price – there’s another option.

Running the 2010 Cool Night Classic

4 Nov

So the rain stayed away and I got to run my race. I was actually really nervous before walking down from work to the river – I guess it’s because I hadn’t trained for the race – even though it was only a 5k I like to always feel prepared.

I turned up and was waiting for my friend and her husband so got to take a good look around me. The people there looked reasonably fit. I recognised the winner of the Doomben 10k Claire Geraghty – I figured she would win for sure (and she did! – well done!) .

I felt a bit uncomfortable waiting for my friend with people almost sizing one another up – trying to work out if the person they were looking at was faster than them or not – so it was more like a gym than a club runner race to me.

My friend arrived and we tried to get in a reasonable spot to start- that’s where I often understand what cows and sheep go through when they are herded into pens as you have people pushing and shoving a fair bit and my Garmin bevel kept getting knocked so I was anxious the race would start and I wouldn’t be prepared.

The race started and it was unlike any race I had done before – there was no nice runners etiquette – my friend and I literally got elbowed and shoved – so I decided to dart forward to get through the surge – sink or swim so got through the first kilometre in 4.09mins!

The thing with short races is you literally have to start as you mean to go on. So I got my head down and pushed on. Personally I am not sure that the river pathway was wide enough for as many runners as there were and it bottlenecked a lot but on the whole it was a nice flatish run.

I got elbowed and pushed a lot during the race and had to resist the urge to push back but I was reasonably happy with my time. According to my Garmin it was 5.11km and I did it in just under 26 mins. The official results according to the chip time was Official time – race – 26.10 – 15th in my division of 35-39 yr and 85th woman- 594th out of 2,349 ppl (the last fig doesnt sound so great!). I’ve done faster but am happy with the time – I must have been trigger happy with my Garmin!

My friend Maria came in a bit battered – she got pushed into a bush when running the race!!!!! I cannot believe that runners could be so rude – they should be ashamed of themselves !!

I don’t think I will be doing this race next year but it was certainly an experience and good to say that I have done it.

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