1. Rope in a buddy
How many times have you committed yourself to a race and grand plans have fallen through for lack of motivation? When it comes to running, keeping yourself accountable can be a challenge. When the clock strikes 6am, it’s cold and dark outside, a warm bed is far more inviting. Which is why you need a mate shivering outside your house to kick your butt into gear. Find a friend who, like you, is not a runner but keen to give it a go, that way you’re likely to run the race together and travel at a similar pace.
2. Kit up
Nothing like a brand new pair of leggings or kicks to inspire a sweat sesh! The key is to purchase gear that is breathable and fits your body well. This rings especially true when purchasing new footwear. We all have different shapes of feet and need to be fitted accordingly and in advance, preferably a few weeks before race day. Remember when your mum used to take you shoe shopping and she would annoyingly press down on the tip of the shoe to feel for your toe? Well, she had sense. Running for long periods of time can encourage blisters and pain if shoes are too snug, because feet swell due to increased blood circulation having enough room is recommended. Find a shoe shop that analyse your feet and suggest a pair for you, my tip being go for comfort, not style.
3. Start slow
This seems obvious but when it comes to race day, try not and get swept up in the excitement and run full pelt out of the gates. It doesn’t matter if people walking the race seem to be overtaking you! Going at your own speed will improve your endurance capacity and your likelihood of finishing. As it turns out the turtle was right – slow and steady does win the race.
Perhaps another no-brainer, but surprisingly a lot of people fail to stretch before and after a race. Stretching before a race activates the right muscles and joints, such as the glutes and hips. Knee injuries can prematurely affect a runner who has not warmed up. Exercises like squats and leg swings ensure areas like the knees are not taking the full weight of the body. Stretches post-run are equally wise. Lengthening out the quads, calves and biceps are my go to. If I do this I am less likely to feel sore the following day. A yin or easy yoga flow are also my favourite post-race activities to practice.
I am a huge fan of infrared saunas, float therapy as well as leg compression using NormaTec boots, this tends to be the reward of a big run and feels so good. The idea of recovery is to relax the muscles and the mind, which is promoted through the use of heat from the sauna, magnesium from the float tanks and compression from the boots. I will also use a foam roller, which is less of a reward and feels more like punishment but it is candy for my muscles!