WHEN it comes to preparing for a 10K race, it’s never too late to take on board a few last minute tips.
As you read this article, you may be preparing for tomorrow’s Great North 10k and there are still a number of things you can do to make your run that extra bit quicker and easier.
The real difficultly most runners face when trying to run this distance is dehydration. Most of the people you will see flagging towards the end of a long race are suffering from dehydration, a lack of water and salt that your body needs to keep going.
Without these, heat exhaustion, muscle cramps and even collapsing in a heap because you can’t continue, are inevitable.
Around 24 hours before an event like this you need to start taking on water little and often. Resist the obvious temptation to consume large amounts in the hour or so before the race as this will not hydrate you, it’ll just make you a regular visitor to one of those portaloos that are very rarely conveniently located.
And also, if you’re finding that in the morning you’re able to drink a large volume of water, you’re definitely dehydrated and your body will not have time to absorb the water before the race finishes.
The trick to keeping hydrated as you run around Gateshead begins today. The little and often tactic is so important. Do it any other way and you might find that a good night’s sleep isn’t possible as you’re constantly back and forth to the toilet in the middle of the night.
Sleep is very important too. When possible you should aim to go to bed and rise at the same time as you have been doing all week. Don’t think that by going to bed significantly earlier tonight that you’ll have more energy. That’s not how it works. You’ll just wake up earlier and throw out of the window one of the most important systems you’re going to need – your metabolism.
This is how and when your body decides it’s going to release energy – hopefully from all of the pasta, chicken and potatoes you’ve been stocking up on these last few days.
In the 24 hours before the race, you should be looking to eat foods that involve lots of carbohydrates. For tea tonight, have something like spaghetti bolognese, chicken stir fry with rice, or jacket potatoes with tuna or beans could also be an option. Eat plenty of bread too. Add protein in (for your muscles) by having fish or eggs and drink lots of milk.
In the morning, resist the temptation to get too excited. Some of the very top performers in sport, like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, choose to wear headphones and listen to music that keeps them calm and blocks out the noise and atmosphere that surrounds them. They do this because they know this is one way to lose adrenaline, and it’s losing too much adrenaline that makes you feel tired early on in a race. Use your iTunes account wisely. Calm, relaxing songs are important before the race.
For fluids on the morning of the race you should switch to isotonic drinks and with food be careful not to overload with a meal that is too heavy or takes too long to digest. Toast with scrambled or poached egg and a glass of milk are good options.
One more thing - don’t forget to be warm up before you stretch. I see many people making the biggest mistake of all when they’re on the start line of an event like this.
Stretching muscles that are stone cold is a quick way to get injured. Make sure that your muscles are warm by jogging on the spot for 7-8 minutes before you stretch any muscles. Good luck and I hope these tips will help you run a great race.