ST Run: Key pointers to having a positive race experience and improve timings
Wow, time flies. Race day is just a week away. If you are feeling nervous, don't worry - I can assure you it's normal. I still get the nerves even though I have completed about 100 road races in my lifetime. Here is some of my key advice to having a positive race experience and improve your race timings.
Assemble your race equipment well in advance and check that they are all in order.
It is unwise to try out new equipment (such as shoes or socks) on race day.
It is also a misconception that wearing a brand new pair of shoes with a fresh grip and fully intact cushion will help you earn that personal best time.
Instead, you are taking a risk for blisters to form, and for blood (literally), sweat and tears to flow.
Wear only shoes and socks that have been properly broken into (i.e. you have done a few runs in them).
So if you have just bought a pair of shoes with the intention of wearing them for the first time on race day, think twice.
Most runners make the mistake of starting the race at a pace that is too fast.
As you take your position behind the starting line, you can expect loud music booming in the background, and the atmosphere during countdown before the start of the race will definitely be hyped up and emotionally-charged.
Once the race horn goes off, you will suddenly find yourself surrounded by a throng of other excited runners.
The unfamiliarity of the whole situation may elevate your adrenaline levels, and you may even feel rejuvenated, akin to having a fresh breath of life. Suddenly, the impossible no longer seems impossible.
Experienced runners will, however, tell you to hold your horses, and to take it easy for the first half of your race. This is sound advice, but by no means easy to heed.
To ensure that you start the race at the correct pace, seek out the pacers who will be running at your goal pace.
Follow these pacers right from the start of the race, and try not to get ahead of them, especially in the first three-quarters of the race.
Unfortunately, if there are no suitable pacers, you will need to be your own pacer. To do so, calculate your race pace, and note down the split times that you will need to achieve at each kilometre marker. You will need to be extremely disciplined and stick as closely as possible to your planned splits.
This method, of course, depends on the accuracy of the race markers. To help with pacing accuracy and precision, you may want to use a watch with GPS capabilities, which can help keep you on target every step of the way.
If ever in doubt, go slower - there is always time to catch up later in the race.
Your consideration for other runners will make the race experience a positive one for all. Small thoughtful acts, such as keeping to the left to allow for others to overtake on the right, will go a long way towards helping everyone achieve their personal bests.
While listening to music is a great way to stay motivated during the race, it may be best to turn the volume down a notch so that you remain aware of the situation around you at all times.
During long races, gestures of encouragement are always welcome and, sometimes, a godsend. Giving a thumbs up or cheers of encouragement to a fellow runner while you are overtaking or making a U-turn can vastly lift his or her spirit.
Remember, everyone is in the same boat and share the same goal - to complete the race in as short a time as possible and in the most enjoyable manner.
Otherwise, do race smart, stay safe and be considerate. See you on race day.