Race preparation for me is a combination of targeted laundry and ritual. I have a lot of running kit, then again, I think everyone does.
Buying kit is one of those things that you do between races to keep the motivation up (that and signing up for more races) and runners love a bargain. I was at the Adidas store on Oxford Street the other day partaking in their 50% sale; 2 pairs of shorts, 2 shirts and a climate control hat later, I headed home.
I do have my preferred brands and even preferred items of clothing within brands. Personally, I like the 2 in 1 shorts that have compression built-in. If it’s chilly, I will wear a short sleeved compression t-shirt under a race vest. For socks, I like the twin skin variety, these stop rubbing, and wicking caps to stop sunburn and draw away sweat. If I am recovering from another race or long training I may wear compression calf sleeves, but that is pretty rare; I would need to be concerned about a niggle in my calf to do that ordinarily.
To ensure I have the right kit for the Great Newham London Run, I will wash it together and keep it to one side a week before, just so I stop myself from using it when training. I then tend to put the whole outfit together with the rest of my gear, lay it out in one of the spare rooms, pin the number to the top and tie the bag drop tag to my bag. If there is a timing chip for the shoes I will put that on too. I put my headphones and iPod out and my race watch too. It’s almost as if a flat me is in them.
This is my little ritual and it focuses me on what’s to come in the next few days.
Something to remember to do if you are running with a GPS watch or music player, is to charge them. My watch lost all charge at the start line in Dublin, I was not happy at all. My iPod has died on runs too and, although I can and have run without music many a time, I do prefer it. My advice is to put both on charge overnight the night before. Especially if you always run with them.
I use my watch to check my pace and will be aiming for a pretty fast time, certainly press my Personal Best if the weather isn’t too hot, but always, and most importantly, end the race healthy and well. Too many times I have seen people collapsed or limping. This is just a run, look after yourself. Walk if you have to, stop if you have to.
Eating for a race is an interesting one and a very personal issue for many. As races tend to be early morning you have to eat with the race in mind. I would not eat in the hour before the race, rather, 90 minutes earlier I would either try to force down a bagel with peanut butter and jam, or a porridge pot. I don’t like that whole “did I eat an anvil?” feeling in your belly when running.
Don’t drink too much because you’ll need the portaloo the whole time. I find that a pint of water beforehand is usually enough hydration for a 10K, but a lot of people do like a bottle of sports drink. Jelly Babies are always welcome though, and as for energy gels, I find them an overkill for 10K, so as a result they are not part of my training. If you like them and they help then use them; it is a case of whatever works for you. I will probably just have a banana and a small bottle of water beforehand.
The hydration question during the race itself is again personal and also based on the day. If Sunday is hot then ensure you get liquids. There are water tables on the route. Hopefully the organisers have provided a spray shower half way around, that is great for lowering the body temperature and cooling you down – I always run through them. If you have a water bottle that you run with, do not change anything, run with it. I prefer not to as it changes the movement for the arm carrying it and cramps my shoulder up. It is all a question of what works for you. I will lay out my gear, there may or may not be a compression t-shirt based on weather, iPod and watch charged, bagels bought and number pinned on my shirt in plenty of time for the race day.
Good luck all and see you there.