• Helen Phillips

Race day essentials for great running results

Are you in training for a Half or Marathon this spring?

There are loads of halves all across the country, as well as the big city marathons, Brighton, Manchester and London Marathons coming up.

If you're training to run a half this spring, here are my Race day essentials for results to make sure you enjoy your run.

1. Don't try anything new

Race day isn't the time to be trying out anything new, whether it's sports drinks, gels or new trainers. It can be tempting to grab a bottle or some jelly beans from the crowd, wear a new pair of trainers or fancy running shorts. But unless you've tried and tested food and fuels or kit in training, don't!

Lots of new distance runners experience stomach cramps, and worse with gels, food and fuels running. To make sure you're not caught short, needing to do 'a Paula' in your race, make sure you try everything you're going to eat and drink beforehand on your long training runs.

Take a look at the FAQ's for your event to find out the brands they'll be handing out, so you can try them out in training if you're going to be taking them on race day. If your race is handing out water in 'little plastic cups' make sure you've tested and tried out trying to drink from them on the run (it's not easy!)

2. Wear your best kit

A race is a great excuse for new kit. You want to be feeling good about yourself, so splashing out on a new T-shirt or funky leggings can be great for motivation.

But don't be tempted to run in new trainers, T-shirts or shorts. If new trainers are on your 'kit to buy' list, make sure they don't rub and give you blisters in a few training runs first.

If you're running a marathon or even a half, make sure that any new kit doesn't chaff by testing it too.

3. Wear your name

When the going gets tough having strangers cheer you on can really help with flagging morale and keep you pushing for home.

Iron on letters are available on the internet and are not expensive. And you'll be rewarded with your own personal screaming fan base around the course!

4. Pace yourself right

You've heard it loads of times before, but DON'T GO OUT TOO FAST! You won't 'make up time' with a sprint burst early on, just burn yourself out ... and you'll be flagging by mile 10.

Instead have a target finish time in mind, and run at a consistent pace throughout.

Running a half, if by mile 10 your pace still feels easy and you've more energy in your legs, then you can run a bit faster and push for a time. Tracking with negative splits gives you additional kudos points with your running friends too! And it's so satisfying sprinting for the finish line if your legs have energy left!

5. Plan in walking with your running

If training hasn't gone to plan, from injury, illness or you've not got your running mojo back after Christmas, and you're not sure whether you can run the entire 13.1 miles, then an option might be to run your race with a run-walk plan.

Take your walk breaks every 20 - 30 minutes, rather than leaving it until you're exhausted to slow down. That way, if walking is planned, you won't feel you've 'failed" after your race.

Give it a go, you might surprise yourself with how fresh you feel at the finish line!I used this approach a few years back when I was getting back into running after a bad adductor strain. Taking walk breaks you're using different muscles, and it gives your 'running legs' a chance to rest. When I used this approach I found my legs had more energy and I was prepared to push myself and run a little faster knowing I had a walk break ahead. In these races my finish times were only a few minutes slower to my pre injury times!

6. Smile for the camera

You might be struggling, but smiling will help you push past pain. Smiling releases happy hormones which can make your running feel easier.

Also, every time you see a camera smile, jump for joy or raise your arms in celebration. Race day pics are expensive. You don't want 'Moody Mary' race day pics to remind you of your achievement!

And finally, to everyone running a 10k, half or marathon in the coming weeks. Relax and enjoy your race. Running a race is awesome ... enjoy the day and be proud of your bling.

If you're running a marathon this spring and you're terrified about taper, confused about carb loading and nervous about the day join my Prepare to Run Your Marathon group coaching calls. I'll be holding these call through March and April, timed to get you ready and prepared to run your spring race.

Click here to save your spot now.

Helen x

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