HOW TO SURVIVE 21KM
Many of my friends are planning to run 21km at Cyberjaya Marathon, come Sunday.
Some will chase for their Half Marathon personal best time which will always be difficult on a new & untested route. Some will aim to complete their first-ever HM with a promise of a highly-sought Finisher’s Tee which is normally reserved only for Full Marathoners.
It is to these latter group of Half Marathon Virgins that I want to offer Seven Simple Suggestions To Survive that first one even without adequate training- if you happened to find yourself in such an awkward predicament. Here goes :-
1) SLEEP EARLY: Strive for a minimum of 6 hours sleep on race eve. It is critical that you are well-rested because sleep deprivation will lead to tiredness which in turn can cause muscle cramps. Being fresh & energetic on race morning will delay the onset of fatigue, meaning you may be able to run the full 21km without walking at all despite the lack of training beforehand.
2) EAT SMART: Not only do you need to eat the right kind of food but you also need to eat at the right time. Eat foods high in nutritional value such as vegetables, fruits & nuts to keep your energy levels up. Eat food which are easy to digest and avoid oily or spicy food to avoid over-taxing your stomach & digestive system. A stomach pain or cramps, and food-poisoning can stop you dead in your tracks. So, stick to baby food like oats.
Because you need to go to bed early, you ought to space-out your meals accordingly, and give your stomach 2 hours to fully digest each meals. You should eat something light 1-2 hours before the flag-off such as a piece of toast or fruit. During the race itself, you can eat some power gel every hour to avoid any fatigue.
3) DRINK SMARTER: Even elite runners have been known to collapse as a result of dehydration. Since it takes 2 hours for water to fully absorb into your bodies and cells, you must sip water periodically before, during & after the race. Don’t worry if drinking water makes you go to the toilet because there will be portable toilets available at the start/finish line and along the running route. Believe me, you don’t want to take the risk of not drinking enough water and suffer painful muscle cramps or worse, the symptoms of dehydration. There will also be Revive sports drink stations provided to replace depleted electrolytes – just be careful not to drink too much of this carbonated drink to avoid stomach bloating and discomfort.
4) NO RUSHING: Get to the race venue early, 1-2 hours before flag-off. Prepare a checklist and get your running stuff ready the night before to avoid forgetting any race items. Unprepared runners have known to forget race bibs and shoes on race day.
5) PACE YOURSELF: It’s not important how you start but how you finish. Don’t let the anticipation, excitement & buzz at the starting pen, make you believe that you can run much faster than your normal pace. Always keep to your own comfortable pace – just remember you got 2-3 hours more to go. Furthermore, since I assume you are not a podium finisher, you should not over-exert yourself, especially because you are in unchartered waters and you never know if you may have to draw on your reserve tank towards the end of the run.
6) SAFETY FIRST: If you feel dizzy, out-of-breath, muscle cramping, slow down, or walk. If these symptons persist, sit down by the roadside and wait for a mobile medic or volunteer to spot you. Remember it is not worth putting yourself at unnecessary health risk as other runners will respect you for knowing the difference between life and death.
7) ENJOY YOURSELF: No matter how slow you are, the worst running day still trumps the best day at the office. When you RUN HAPPY, you will never run alone.
That’s all I got for now. Hope you will find my tips useful, or at the very least, it was a good read.