You have finally decided to run your first race. The registration is done and the race day has been marked in your organiser. Your training and nutrition plans are underway and you have been following them diligently. As race day draws near, it is important that you are well prepared. Here are 15 tips from our experts on how to get through your very first race.
THE WEEK BEFORE…
1) Race Pack Matters
Find out how and where to collect your race pack, and remember to do so. These packs contain all the essentials, like your racing bib/race tag and timing device.
2) Eat Right
“Runners require a high energy diet – high in protein, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates,” says Png Weileen, head of Performance Nutrition and Performance Services, Singapore Sports Council. “Adequate carbohydrate intake leading up to the race, and also during the event, prevents severe fatigue.”
3) Logistics Planning
Make sure you find out about things like where the car park is located, which roads are closed, and which modes of public transport will get you there. Knowing these things and planning your travelling time ahead will help you feel more prepared on race day.
4) Speak To Experienced Runners
“Learn from seasoned marathoners,” says Dave McGillivray, race director, Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010. “They can be your most valuable assets.” Their advice and tips can help you be mentally prepared.
5) “Recce” The Route
Check out the race route by running or taking a drive along it. “Knowing the course and its topography can be a significant advantage in running your best possible time,” says McGillivray.
THE DAY BEFORE…
6) Check Your Equipment
Make sure you have your shoes, running kit, socks, visor/cap and so forth ready. “Don’t wait until the morning of the race, or you may
forget something which could ruin your entire race and race day experience,” advises McGillivray.
7) Watch Your Dinner
Stick to your nutrition plan before the race day. “The diet should focus on providing carbohydrates and protein, and a little fat, from all food groups,” says Png. “Rice, meat and their alternatives, and fruits and vegetables are the way to go.”
8) Hydration Plan
Make sure you have a clear hydration plan for the race. “Use a fluid replacement plan that has been practised in training,” says Png. According to recommendations from the USA Track And Field, you should drink 450ml of fluid for every 500g of weight you lose during your run.
9) Get Adequate Rest
“It is important to get proper rest and sleep two to three days before the race day,” says McGillivray. You need about eight hours of sleep each night. Waking up groggy and grumpy is the last thing you want to start off your race day.
10) Self Pep Talk
“Realise that in making the honest commitment to run the marathon, you have completed the toughest part of this overall challenge,” says McGillivray. Take the time to look back at your training and appreciate all the hard work you put in.
RACE DAY ITSELF…
11) Be Early
“Arriving at least an hour before the start, if not earlier, is recommended,” says McGillivray. This will give you enough time to prepare and handle last minute matters that may crop up.
Always do this. “Dynamic warm-ups (exercises that mimic running) are the most ideal to facilitate blood flow to joints and muscles,” says Jonathan Fong, director of Racers’ Toolbox (www.racers-toolbox.com).
13) Stay The Same
“Don’t make any last-minute changes to your diet or gear, or do anything radically different from what you’ve been doing in your
training,” says McGillivray. “Remember, consistency is one of the most important aspects of running.”
14) Toilet Break
Toilet queues at races are a killer. You do not want to be late because you went to the loo too late.
15) Be Patient
Don’t be “pulled along” by stronger runners. Run at your own pace. “It’s always a more pleasant experience when you can run negative splits,” says McGillivray. “This means running the second half of the race faster than the first half.”