For those of you who will be doing your 1st 10k race this weekend, here are some general tips and guidelines which may help to assist you in the days (and hours) leading towards a race. I have also included some practical race tips which will help ‘ease’ your journey finish line.
1. I have just collected my race kit. What do I do next ?
Race kits usually include a piece of pamphlet or booklet containing the vital information each runner needs to know. Check the date, reporting time, parking space, baggage tent, start time, start venue, distance between water station, the route, cut off time, location of mobile toilets, medical tent etc. You don’t want to miss your race just because you mistaken your start time with the half marathoners’ ! Go through the booklet thoroughly as not to miss out any information.
2. Do I need to carboload for a 10k ?
First thing’s first, do not try anything new. A short 10k do not necessarily need any specific carboload (unlike doing longer races such as half and full marathon distances). Eat like your normally eat. Eat well in the days leading towards race day and not only the night before the race. Eat a normal portion of your regular healthy dinner.
3. Any food I should consider avoiding before the race ?
a) hard to digest food (protein/fat packed food) ! :- dairy products like milk, cheese and ice cream ; they also contain lactose a sugar that’s hard for some people to digest. If you can’t skip your milk, try soy milk which don’t generally contain lactose. Try to avoid dairy product at least 48 hours before the race
b) reduce fiber in take. when they’re low in your G.I. track the bacteria feasting on it will cause a lot of gas and sometimes cramping. Save the pear, green peas , apples, wholegrain cereal and other high fiber food for after the run
c) cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage; they contain raffinose, a gas-inducing compound also found in–you guessed it–beans.
4. What about my gears? How exactly should I prepare them?
Make a check list ! That is what I normally do. 🙂 Head-to-toe. Here is an example of a gear checklist :
Running vest – dri fit material if you have it. Your regular cotton t does not allow your skin to breath, weigh down when you sweat
Race number – Pin it on your t shirt/vest or use a race belt
Socks : not too thick/too thin
A good pair of running shoes
NOTE : Best to prepare everything the night before.
5. Anything else ?
Vaseline/Glide : apply them on chaffing points, where the edges of your apparel rubs your skin . In between your toes too to avoid blister. Check out the photos below :-
Gel : Powergel/ GU : Take in 1 (with water) around 5 mins to race start. You don’t need to take 1 during the race.
Night before race
Prepare your race gears. Don’t forget to bring clothes to change after the race! Set your alarm. Sleep early !
Wake up early , have 300-400 calories 3-4 hours before race time. A small amount of protein and fat along with carbs will stave off hunger and keep energy high. Don’t forget to drink water. But don’t chug. A common mistake done by runners is drinking too much water before a race hence diluting the electrolytes+ minerals optimal for muscle contraction. And don’t forget to go to the loo ! 😛
Leave the house early too (do not bring precious belongings) . You obviously need to find a good parking spot and will definitely have a hard time looking for a car park as most of the spaces will already be taken up by the full and half marathoners who came earlier. If you leave late, couple that with getting lost, finding a parking space , and scrambling through your bag to look for your race number, panic will come and it’ll delay you more. So be organized, early and relax. Save the hype for the run (and post run!)
You can keep your belongings at the baggage check in area near the start line. Come early so that you don’t have to queue. Go to the loo before reporting to the start line. An easy warm up run for 10-15mins around 25mins before race start followed by some light stretching especially for the lower body which you normally do. Refrain from trying anything new today !!
Start at the back where the atmosphere is more relaxed. Starting at the front can suspense you negatively by triggering you to start out too fast. Note: fast runners aiming for podium will always aim to be at the front. Unless you’re them, just stick to the back of the pack.
Don’t start out too fast. Keep your pace steady and avoid being overwhelmed by the first few miles excitement involuntarily brought upon you by the other fast runners. Keep it easy and steady and you’ll find yourself slowly increasing the pace as your body warms up.
Do the tangent : These (most) runners don’t do or are aware of its significant. Instead of running along the curves of the road, you’ll run a straight line between 2 curves. Shorter distance, still legal. Click here or here to learn and understand more about doing the tangent as a strategy during a race.
Water stations : Do Not Skip Them. Plan to stop at every water station. You muscles need to stay hyrdated to keep working.
To add some fun , try pacing with a runner, and eventually overtaking him/her once you’re comfortable with the pace and can go further. Continue to do it till the end of the race. If you think you’re too slow, or can’t run any faster, try using the street lamps as markers for you to do a fartlek during a race ! For example, run a slower pace in between 4 lamp posts, and a faster pace between 3 lamp post. Do this after 5km of running. Use the first 5km to warm up, find a comfortable pace and increase from there on.
Do look out for the distance markers. Listen to your body. Don’t focus too much on the run, or the way you run, treat it as a journey, say Hello! to fellow runners and don’t forget to thank the marshalls/volunteers 🙂
If the course takes you through hills, focus on ensuring that you pass the peak ALIVE and able to continue then run down hill rather than racing for the peak and forgetting that you have a long way more to go and end up walking because you wasted your energy on the hill. So keep a steady pace, and make sure you BREATH. The harder the effort (due to the inclination), the more effort and concentration you need to put in taking in more oxygen into your system. This is achieved by deep and slow inhalation. Avoid rapid and shallow breathing. Remember, you may have to run more than one hill ! Keep your stride small but with quick cadencing (turn over) instead of big strides. Big strides tires you faster. The incline is enough to increase your heart rate (more effort) and you don’t need to add-on with big strides (more effort x2 !).
Avoid cramps. Increase your sodium intake days leading towards the race. 😛 If you’ve been stretching well, you should be safe ! If you find your calf muscles tightening up during the race, slow down instead of picking up the pace. Walk if you have too. And stop to stretch/ask for anti cramp spray from the medical tent.
All the best !
Wishing all of you 10k runners, as well as the 1/2 and full marathoners the best for this Sunday’s event. Rest, eat and sleep well before race day okay ! Here are 2 videos from the start line of last year’s Standard Chartered KL (half marathon and 10kmstart). The second video shows what its like to ‘chill’ at the back of the pack !
Some pics from last year’s SCKLM
ALL THE BEST !!