Being prepared is the key to doing your best in any fun run. A lack of preparation can easily wipe out all those months of hard training. Here are a few common mistakes runners live to regret, and how to avoid them.
Mistake Number One: Setting your sites too high.
Yes, it’s great to be confident, but if you set yourself a target time for your fun run which his not in keeping with what you’ve been doing in training, then you’re bound to be disappointed, at the least. Worse still, you could be wiped out by the time you get to the halfway point if you set off too fast.
If you’ve done any recent races or time trials, you can use this race time predictor to get a reasonable idea of the sort of time you could aim for. Alternatively, you could put in any recent 2km (+) interval times if you haven’t raced or done a time trial recently. Remember, use this as a guide only. Your pace is not cast in stone.
Mistake Number Two: Getting Carried Away
It is very easy to get carried away with the hype of a big fun run event, especially if it’s one you’ve been looking forward to for a while. Lots of people around you will be going out more quickly than you, so you just need to develop a strategy which will allow you to chill out and enjoy the ride. Listen to your own breathing, count your own strides, sing yourself a nursery rhyme. Anything that will stop you from tuning into the footsteps of those around you will help you to maintain your own pace. Look at your watch, and make sure you are not running faster than your planned pace. Those first few kilometres often feel very easy, even if you’ve gone out too fast. Any those very same kilometres are vital in setting you up for a great fun run.
Mistake Number Three: Disregarding the Conditions
Be aware that you may need to revise down your race time goal if the weather conditions are a lot different to what you’ve been training in. Hot weather is a killer on race day, but cold weather can also have an adverse effect if you are not used to it. Strong headwinds can also slow you down considerably.
Don’t doggedly keep on running to your set time splits if the weather doesn’t allow for it. Run on perceived exertion, and know what you are capable of beforehand. It takes a lot of practice to be able to judge the pace you can keep up over a set distance, so you may want to be more conservative until you think you’ve nailed that one.
Mistake Number Four: Being Ill Prepared for Hot Weather
If the mercury’s rising (as has been the case in the last two Sydney Marathons which they insist on starting at 7:30am), it’s important to take some precautions. Make sure you are well hydrated before the race. Drink plenty of water on the two or three days leading into the race. How much is hard to say, as it depends on your size, how much water you are taking in with your food, and how much fibre you are taking in with your food. Just try to drink before you are thirsty, but not so much that you feel bloated and uncomfortable. On the morning of the race, down some sports drink prior to the start – again, not so much that you feel uncomfortable-to make sure you have a good store of electrolytes. During the race, drink 200-300mls of sports drink every 20-30 minutes.
Wear cool clothing and a white visor. The white will reflect heat, and a visor rather than a hat will allow heat to escape from your head.
Don’t be a hero. If you feel dizziness, shortness of breath, or nausea, seek shade and assistance. These are all signs of heat stress. If you stop sweating, you have most likely gone into heat stroke and should seek help immediately.
Mistake Number Four: Being Ill Prepared for Cold Weather
If the weather’s cold, gloves are invaluable. Bring lots of layers of old clothes which you are happy to throw away prior to or during the race. Make sure you have warm dry clothes to change into at the end of the race, including undies. There’s nothing like cold sweaty underwear to keep you from warming up quickly!
Other things that can go wrong
Eyes stinging from sunscreen. Don’t put sunscreen on your forehead above your eyes. Wear a visor to protect your forehead from the sun
Late arrival. Leave plenty of time for things to go wrong. There’s likely to be lots of traffic and little parking at most of the fun runs you go to.
Wardrobe malfunction. Make sure your shoes are tied tightly enough, and loosely enough, and tied with a double knot. Be sure to have a spare hair elastic. Make sure your bra clips are in good working order. One of my clients did have a bra mishap, not once, but twice in a race (BD, you know who you are). If this happens to you, use one of the safety pins from your race number to do some running repairs.
It’s just not your day. It happens, sometimes you know from the first step you take in your warm up, or even before you get to your warm up, that today will probably not produce a fun run PB. Accept it, chill out, and enjoy the scenery!
Do you have any special rituals you perform as part of your race day preparation? Tell us about them below.