Runner's Tips from our own Fitness 180º Center
Before the Race
Know the course. Familiarize yourself with the route. If you can, run the racecourse (or drive or bike it), so you can get familiar with where you’ll need to push and where you can cruise. Our 5 km route suggestions are Green Belt Park, Flag Island, and Sharjah University.
Eat what you’re familiar with. The week before racing isn’t the best time to try new cuisines and fueling strategies. Instead, eat whatever has worked best for you. You don’t want to experiment with a new food that could result in an upset stomach.
5 days to the race. Begin to increase your total carbohydrate intake by adding more sweet potatoes, pasta, brown rice, and whole grains.
Limit your sipping. Yes, you need to stay hydrated, but don’t guzzle anything 30 minutes before the starting pistol; sip if your mouth is dry or it’s particularly hot out. Your best bet is to stay hydrated throughout the days leading up to the race, and if you’re racing in the morning, top up your fluids as needed once you wake up.
Fuel smart. Don’t eat anything heavy within two hours of the race. While different meals work for different runners, as a general guideline, your meal should contain mostly carbs, a little protein, and a limited amount of fiber and fat. Here are a few suggestions: Whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a banana; an energy bar with a cup of fruit; or oatmeal topped with berries and a handful of nuts.
Mindset. Think positive. Approach with anticipation not fear. Tell yourself that it’s going to be a great day, and this race is going to be your best race yet.
Dress appropriately. Comfortable, lightweight, and synthetic fabrics are your best option. Think nylon or polyester. These stretchy, non-absorbent fabrics will make your run much more easy and breezy. Make sure you are wearing proper running shoes, a heavily cushioned but relatively lightweight shoe is always a good option.
Start slow, and stay even. Run the first 10% of the race slower than you normally would, with the idea that you’ll finish strong. Don’t try to beat time by going out faster than your goal pace. If you do that, you risk burning out early. Try to keep an even pace throughout the race, and save your extra energy for the final stretch to the finish.
After the Race
Keep moving. Keep walking for at least 10 minutes to fend off stiffness and gradually bring your heart rate back to its resting state. Be sure to do some post-race recovery stretches to stretch out your legs, back, and hips.
Refuel. Take in a combination of protein and carbs to rebuild muscles and restock your energy. Rehydrate by taking in plenty of water and a drink containing electrolytes.
Shake out the next day. As sore as you might feel the day after the race, it’s important to move the next day, as doing so will increase circulation to your muscles and help you bounce back sooner. If a slow jog is too much, try a non-impact activity such as swimming or walking. Just keep the effort level easy.