This weekend is the Reading Half Marathon with 15,000 people putting their hearts and souls into running their hearts out for 13.1 miles. Here are 5 top tips to get you arriving on the day in great shape by:
Fuelling your body: On a simple level the best way to fuel your training is to eat whole and clean foods, the closer to nature the better. Get a good mix of good fats (coconut oil, olive oil), proteins (eggs, lean meats, seafood) and slow releasing carbohydrates (sweet potato, squash and leafy veg).
Our bodies need a variety of nutrients and vitamins to really thrive and be at their best. This will vary for each of us but eating a variety of foods defeats the law of accommodation, the more you eat of the same the less your body takes from them. So mix it up and try new things. Also aim for 50% raw and 50% cooked food, raw food in its natural state is much easier for out body to break down and we get much more nutrients from it than cooked food.
Also drink plenty of water, dehydration can affect performance by up to 10-20% so don’t follow your thirst but instead drink 1 litre for each 25kg of your bodyweight. If you can drink filtered or bottled water as tap water has a lot of toxins in which your body will store as fat.
Get your mind on the job: First of all pat yourself on the back for getting this far. You have stuck it out through training on cold days and mornings when you found it hard so self high fives and chest bangs.
Consciously rehearse the event and any points you are nervous about, when you start to get nervous or question if you can do it positive visualise finishing or the BIG Sunday lunch afterwards .. be positive and believe you can and you will. Watch this video of a 61 year potato farmer in Australia who won one of the world’s toughest endurance races with BELIEF, setting a new course record in the process.
Get a plan .. plan out your pace time and stick to it, focus on you and your plan don’t get swept along by those around you. In an event like Reading half there are pace markets so if you have a time in mind, find the pace marker and stick with them.. you will also find a ready crowd around you to support and rally you on as so many people do this.
Use R.I.C.E.: As soon as you feel something that's not quite right during or after a run, use R.I.C.E (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) self-treatment. Rest is the most important and often most effective of those components. Take a couple of days off from running -- it may be all you need to heal your injury. Ice the area where you're feeling pain for 10-15 minutes every 3-4 hours. Compression limits swelling and can provide minor pain relief. You can wrap the affected area with an Ace bandage (you can do that to hold the ice pack on), but don't make it too tight. Elevate the injured body part -- you can prop it up on pillows while you're resting and icing.
Sleep like a baby: Get plenty of sleep leading up to the event, the hours before midnight are key for physical recovery and after midnight for physiological recovery. Be in bed by 10pm each night and get 8 hours, this will maximise your recovery from training and muscle development as well as reduce your stress levels.
Have a bed time routine, wind down and read a book or have a bath and switch off computer screens and phones an hour before bed as they stimulate your mind making it more difficult to switch off.
Try a sleep app like sleep cycle .. they monitor the quality of your sleep and also wake you when you are coming out of deep sleep even if that is a little earlier you will feel more refreshed.
If you are struggling to sleep try taking some magnesium which will relax your muscles and mind, plus it is a mineral we are often deficient in and important to so many chemical reactions in our bodies.
Race day prep: Get a good breakfast, some protein and a few carbohydrates .. something like little rice, green veg and chicken nothing too heavy and plenty of water to hydrate.
Get your kit laid out the night before and all those fiddly jobs done, like pinning your number on your vest .. it will be much harder when you are nervous. Don’t wear anything new, especially not trainers .. if everything has worked in training it will work on race day aswell.
Have a play list of your favourite tunes to get you through, if you are hitting a tough patch and then Rocky comes on then you will fly along I promise .. am sure there is some science to that!
Plan your morning .. plan how you are getting to the event, your route and timings. Nothing worse than rushing .. you will feel nervous enough without having to find your way to a new venue. Or get someone to drive you to help calm the nerves.
Have plenty of warm clothes in layers so you can warm up and all your muscles nice and warm, ready for action. Plus some dry clothes for after the event.
Get your supporters, have your supporters on the course and plan where you are going to see them their cheers will push you on. Plus if you wear your name on your vest you will get supported all round the course.
After the race: Well done first of all, you’ve done it you should feel amazing although maybe a little sore. Now time to relax and refuel .. get some protein and carbohydrates on board to refuel and get some energy back onto your tired muscles.
Relax your muscles with a bath of Epsom salts high in magnesium to help you relax and also think about a post-workout massage to get out any knots from your muscles. Plus plenty of sleep to help with recovery. It may take a few days for your legs to feel better so take it easy and eat well, you’ve earned it.Book a professional massage now