Race day is just over a week away and you’ve done all the hard work to get to the finish line on March 2 – now it’s time for those vital last preparations.
Remember that this final week is your taper week, when your workouts are less intense and lower in mileage.
There’s not much, if anything, you can do now to make yourself run faster on the day, but there is a lot you can do to end up running slower, or even get injured: you’re in peak form and it’s crucially important to obey your training schedule down to the last letter.
Even if you’re feeling great, don’t be tempted to run hard when you’ve been set an easy session. Don’t slip in any extra miles and make sure you get plenty of sleep and that you’re well-hydrated.
Everyone has their pre-race rituals and habits and there’s no magic formula about the best way to prepare over the day or two prior to the gun going off.
But to give you an idea of what others out there will be doing, we’ve re-assembled our panel of runners from Dacorum & Tring AC Road Runners to give some tips on what they’ll be doing to get ready for the big day.
THE DAY BEFORE
Jamie Marlow: “Test all your kit out before race day – this is important, because your t-shirt may rub, gels may fall out after 100m and your socks may roll down into your trainers – I’ve done that one!
“Lay all your kit out the night before so you don’t forget anything in the morning, and so you can switch off and hopefully get a good sleep. Go to bed early. Set two alarms so there is one less thing to think about in the night.”
Samantha Hawkridge: “This one’s for the girls: don’t try a new running bra on race day! I did once and it rubbed! Stick with the kit you know.”
Steve Shaw: “Hydrate properly. Eat small, regular meals the day before, as this will help the body to absorb all the proteins.”
Rob Deane: “Don’t worry too much about getting a good night’s sleep. You’ll be excited which won’t help. Getting a good night’s sleep two nights before is probably worth more.
“Plan your journey to get there in plenty of time. If in a rush you’ll burn up valuable nervous energy.”
Jamie: “Practise your race day breakfast. What you eat 24 hours before the race is just as important as what you eat on race day.”
THE MORNING OF THE RACE:
Helen Reardon: “I’ll have a ‘carby’, light breakfast of porridge or toast and a small carb snack 30-45 mins before the race.
“I have a fresh coffee with breakfast on race days, but that’s only because I do it on normal days too and my body is used to it -–if I skip it I get a terrible migraine by mid morning!”
Samantha: “I always have porridge three hours before, then a banana not long before the race, and I can’t do without my morning coffee!”
Natalie Black: “Put Vaseline on your feet - it helps with the blisters!”
John Jales: “One important thing is make sure your shoe laces are done up and double-knotted – it’s not good when they come undone during a race!”
Jamie: “Get to the race in good time. Find out where the toilets and the race start are – you’ll need both of these! A tip for the men – put Vaseline or plasters over your nipples to prevent chafing.”
Steve: “Try to get to the portaloos for your last pee as late as possible or you will want to go again on the start line – or is that just me?”
AT THE RACE START
Steve: “Position yourself in the race line-up around people running a similar pace if possible.”
Jason Hawkridge: “At the start, resist the temptation to get to the front and get carried away with the occasion or you could have nothing left by the middle of the race.”
Jamie: “Run your own race. A good percentage of runners are running faster than their finishing time early on in the race. Let them go. You will overtake them later.”
Helen: “Don’t get excited and go off too fast! If you’re used to 5K or 10K racing and it’s your first half you’ll really regret doing that because you’ll burn out early on and feel awful in the later stages of the race.
“I tend not to do a warm-up routine for any race longer than 10 miles; instead I save my energy for the event, running the first 1-2 miles at a slowish pace to loosen everything up gently, then settling into my planned ‘race pace’ for the rest of the way and, if I have enough in the tank, I give it some welly at the end and finish strong.”
Jason: “Go for recovery drinks as soon as you can. I am currently using a recovery milkshake called For Goodness Shake which seems to work well. Do plenty of stretching and rehydrating.”
Helen: “To recover: a protein recovery shake straight after race and a balanced meal when hungry.”
Natalie: “Yazoo or chocolate milk after – it’s cheap, tasty and does the trick!”
Steve: “Stretch well after, with a minimum of 30 seconds per muscle. And don’t forget to drink lots of beer to re-hydrate properly, you’ve earned it!”
JOHN JALES’ TRAINING SESSIONS
Week 8/8 (Feb 24th-Mar 2nd): Elite athletes
Men: Sub 1h18 / Women: Sub 1h25
Monday: 5 miles easy
Tuesday: 6-7 miles at comfortable pace
Wednesday: Warm-up, then 2 x (2x800m) fast with 1 minute recoveries, warm-down
Thursday: 5 miles easy, to include 1 mile at race page
Friday: 4 miles easy (in race kit)
Sunday: RACE DAY
Week 8/8 (Feb 24th-Mar 2nd): Club runners
Men: Sub 1h18 to 1.31 / Women: Under 1.39
Monday: 4-5 miles easy
Tuesday: 6 miles at comfortable pace
Wednesday: Warm-up, then 2 miles at race pace, 1 mile warm-down
Thursday: 3 miles to include 4 x 30 seconds fast
Saturday: 2-3 miles (in race kit)
Sunday: RACE DAY
Week 8/8 (Feb 24th-Mar 2nd): Beginners, based on athletes who have been running at least 2-3 miles, 2-3 times per week
Monday: 3 miles easy
Wednesday: Warm-up, then 1 mile at good speed, then 1 mile jog
Friday: 2 mile jog
Sunday: RACE DAY