Time to start thinking about race day
- If you have missed some training, don’t try to over compensate – you will risk injury. Best to try and do the recommended number of days training as noted in your training plan (plans on the website?). If you are struggling with what has been set, reset your target for the race. It is fine to introduce some short walking periods into you run.
- Try to do some training runs at the same time of day as the race – this will get your body more used to running at that time of day so it won’t be a shock.
- Ease off training in the final two weeks - this is called tapering. Reducing the frequency, and intensity of your training runs will help your legs feel fresh and bouncy come race day.
- Practice your race pace. What time do you plan to complete the race in? Work out how long this is for each mile (your mile splits) – an even pace is the best way to complete a race. Try to stick to your pace, it’s so easy to start off too fast and have nothing left in the tank for the last part of the run. Some people write their personal mile splits on the back of their hand before their race so that can keep a track during the race as they pass the mile marker signs on the race route.
- Buy and try out any new running gear now, it’s best not to wear new gear for the first time at the event.
- Pack you bag for race day the evening before. Have the kit you want to wear laid out so you are not searching around at the last minute. Have a look at the weather forecast and wear appropriate clothing.
Food and Drink
- Think about what you will eat before your race and how long before your race - then try in in the weeks before to make sure it doesn’t cause you any discomfort.
- If you are planning to take a drink during the race practice during your training run. Taking on a drink can be harder that you think when trying to run at the same time. Some people find that they cannot stomach sports drinks so stick to water - best to find this out before race day.
- In the week before your race avoid alcohol and keep hydrated.
- Think about your pre-race routine. How are you going to get there and how long will it take? Bear in mind that this is a mass participation run so there will be thousands of others making the same trip as you. Check for public transport issues, and bear in mind there are always long queues for the toilets at big races!
- Try to get a few good nights of sleep in the bag - it’s likely that you may not sleep that well on the night before the race due to nervousness, and excitement.
- Try not to spend all of the day before you race on your feet. It’s not the day to go shopping! If you can, have a relaxing day and put your feet up.
Read all of the race info sent to you and on the event website. Make sure you have packed everything that you will need for the race.
- Be road-wise: watch out for cyclists approaching you from behind and try to keep to the right – especially if you are running with music.
- Monitor your breathing – if it seems too hard, slow down or walk a bit until you feel comfortable again.
- Hydrate - make it a habit to drink water or an energy drink throughout the day.
- To aid recovery the best time to eat and drink is in the hour immediately after you run.
- If you're not racing there is no need to compare yourself to others, and want every run to be automatically better than the last one.
- It is easier and safer to run with someone rather than running alone. Join a running club if you can or find a training partner.
Mix Up Your Training
Adopt a common sense approach to your training. It's a good idea to mix things up by adding in, some cycling or swimming for example - though you should always:
- Use them to build your general fitness before you follow a selected training plan.
- Obtain proper instruction for the correct use of any machinery - whether it’s your own or at a gym.
- Maximise benefit - and minimise the risk of injury - by adopting correct form, technique and posture.
- Cross training is not intended to replace running - e.g. a two-hour bike ride instead of a 90-minute long run will not provide the training effect needed to run a half marathon.
- Rest Days - at least one day per week should be a complete rest day with no physical activity at all. Ideally before your long run.
- Don’t overdo it by putting too much cross training in your rest days. If you need a rest take a day off.
- Listen to your body - sores and niggles can be a sign of over-training and can lead to injury.
- Stretch thoroughly before and after each work out.