At the time of writing this, my legs are incredibly sore. Like, ‘walking like I’m bowlegged and make a noise like an old man every time I sit down’ kind of sore. But, I’m also happy and proud—because I just finished Run Melbourne‘s 10 km run. Presented by Lululemon, this is one of the biggest events on the running calendar, with more than 20,000 people running past some of Melbourne’s famous landmarks.
Now, if you’re someone who runs a lot, 10 km probably sounds like a leisurely Sunday jog. But let me preface this by saying, I am NOT a runner. Nor am I a cardio person! I like to lift heavy things and put them down, and that’s been about the extent of my fitness regime for the last few years. Apart from being a crazy person and doing the City2Surf without training last year (are you noticing a theme here?), the longest I’ve run without stopping is probably about 4 km. But I was offered the chance to choose from three options—5 km, 10 km, and half-marathon, and some reason decided to challenge myself with the 10. And I’m glad I did! My goal was to run the 10 km without stopping to walk and I did—finishing in just over an hour.
Of course, when you take on a challenge like this, you’d normally train for it the months or weeks leading up to it, right? But after being away on holidays and coming back to a packed work schedule, I didn’t manage to run once. Now, this is nothing to be proud of you and it’s certainly not advisable. If you’re doing a run and your body isn’t used to it, you should definitely start training well in advance to maximise your performance and reduce your risk of injury. But if, like me, you’ve run out of time, here are some last minute race day tips from Lululemon ambassador Paul MacKinnon to get you through.
Don’t try to cram
“In the final two weeks before the run, it’s important not to try and ‘cram’ thinking that you haven’t done enough. Run small amounts to keep the legs moving but don’t over exert yourself and stress the body. Make sure you hydrate for those weeks so they’re recovered and ready to go on the day.”
Fuel your body right
“Try not to have too much dairy or anything too heavy (nor too much); sweet potatoes, vegetables, and some carbohydrates are good. Regardless of distance, make sure you have something to eat in the morning before the race to replace glycogen stores lost while sleeping. Try and eat roughly 3 hours prior: oats, banana on toast, again not too much dairy and make sure you keep hydrated. If you need a snack prior to the race, something small and easily digestible so that it settles fast.”
I had 2 pieces of sourdough toast with peanut butter (and a double shot coffee with almond milk!) about three hours before, and I feel like it made a big difference to my performance.
“Personally, I’ll just do some bodyweight squats to fire up the major muscles. Then, I’ll run for 10 minutes or so with some higher temp run-throughs, then I’m ready to go! Try some dynamic stretching or some leg swings to get the blood flowing and muscles moving.”
Focus on your technique
“Try and stay as soft and relaxed through the shoulders as possible and try and run to a beat so you can tick through the K’s in time.”
“Be conservative for the first half of the race and set a pace you think you can comfortably hold. Once you hit that halfway mark, assess where you’re at. If you’re feeling great, you can make a plan to pick the pace up either immediately or at a certain point. If you’re hurting you can hold the current pace or even drop back a little. If you are picking up the pace, make sure it’s small increases, not a large one!”
I found this was the tip that helped me the most! Slow and steady wins the race.
Work through a stitch
“Whenever I get a stitch or really short of breath, I’ll slightly slow down, take 5 full deep controlled breaths and make sure I exhale all the air of each one. Since working with Lululemon, I’ve started to think more about mindful meditation with running.”