THE GREAT North Run is one of the greatest sporting events in the world, regularly attracting the cream of the globe’s distance runners.
Part of its beauty is that anyone can take part - from Mo Farah right down to someone who has never conquered its 13.1mile distance before, charity runners or those in fancy dress.
But while Farah might have it all worked out, chances are if you haven’t done a Great North Run before, you’re going to need a little guidance.
Susan Partridge was on hand last week at an event for PUMA’s sponsorship of the Great Run Series held at Newcastle’s Start Fitness store, where a special exhibition for the Great North Run has been unveiled.
Partridge, who competed in the Commonwealth Games marathon in Glasgow six weeks ago, will be taking part on Sunday herself, and imparted some hints and tips which make essential reading for anyone doing the Great North Run for the first time.
DON’T SET OFF TOO QUICKLY
“Run at a comfortable pace to start out with. The adrenaline in these races will mean you are excited, other people are running off and you want to go with them.
Keep an eye on your splits early on, make sure you’re running at a pace at which you are comfortable with, so the first three miles might feel easy to manage, you might think you can go harder, but just wait. Take it easy in the first half and then, if you start to feel good, then you can push on.”
FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL
“Make sure you have everything planned the night before. Don’t leave any decisions to the morning of the race. It has to be robotic in the morning, no thinking required, because on the morning of the race, you’re nervous and it’s easy to forget things, it’s easy to discover that you don’t know how long it takes to get to the train station, anything that’s likely to fluster you, plan it all out.
Have your kit set out before, plan when you’re going to have your breakfast, leave longer than you need to eat your breakfast, you may be too nervous to eat. Leave longer than you need to go to the toilet because you’ll go far more often than you need to go.
Write it all down, exactly what you need to do and how long it’s going to take you so that on the morning of the race you have an instruction book for your morning and you can follow it. When you’re nervous it’s very difficult to think rationally.
“When you think about the race, don’t think about how hard it is going to be, don’t think about the hill. Picture yourself running strongly, picture yourself running with your family watching on, picture positive things, it’s about visualising yourself in a positive place, and that can help you.
CONFRONT YOUR NERVES
“Nerves are OK. I get nervous before every race, even small races. It’s better that you are that way. It’s when you get too nervous when you start to do stupid things. Keep them under control.
“I usually have cereal, toast, orange juice and a coffee. I don’t do the coffee as part of a regime, it’s just that I drink a lot of coffee in the morning. Some people have strong coffee at a set period before a race. I’ve never done that. I have had caffeine gels towards the end of marathons but I’ve not noticed an effect. I tend not to go in for that kind of thing. I just run. I take a normal breakfast, and I don’t do anything out of the ordinary. “
THERE IS NO SECRET TO SUCCESS
“It’s just about having a bit of confidence on race day, training and ability to help yourself. There is no secret. You can try gels and coffee, lots of other techniques, but it’s about the way you train and the way you run. I’m not convinced that any of these ‘secret’ methods work that much.
You can feel it in your training, you can feel it when you run well, you can come home from a training run and feel like ‘yeah, I’m going to have a good race’. To me it’s all in the training, it’s all in the running, I never feel like I need my beetroot juice or something, that’s the key to running well, it’s not.
We call those the one-percenters. Once you get to the point in your training when you can’t do any more, you do these things. The icing on the cake perhaps. There’s nothing wrong with trying these things, but I think if you get to a good percentage through training you don’t need a one-percent increase anyway.
You can get too obsessed with the one-percenters that are going to be the ‘secret’. Everyone is going for the secret. If you get too obsessed with looking for the secret you’ll forget there is no secret - and actually it’s that you have to work hard.”
GET INTO THE GROOVE
“Listen to fast music if you like to be pumped up, or calm music if you are getting too nervous and you want to calm down.I do listen to music, probably more than I used to. When I started running I’d have to carry a WalkMan, but now it’s a bit easier.
I listen to cheesy stuff - AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, the Rocky theme, things like that. I tend to change it to whatever’s in the charts at the time, and I’ll change it once a year if I get fed up listening to certain songs, but Rocky lasts for years, that’s always there. It’s stuff that you can imagine yourself winning to, going slow motion over the line.
The AC/DC was my sister-in-law’s influence. She wanted it to be used when Team Scotland came out at the Commonwealth Games, so I added that to the playlist. The idea of anyone shouting ‘thunder’ at you has to be a good thing, doesn’t it?”
PUMA ambassador Susan Partridge is running the Great North Run on the 7th September. Pick up your PUMA millionth finisher Great North Run t-shirt and Faas 600 v2 from www.StartFitness.co.uk today. #ForeverFaster