Saturday, December 3, 2011

14 Marathon-Survival Tips

The Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore is tomorrow. As you prepare to run the marathon, here are 14 tips which will help you survive this endurance race! 

Race- And Training-Related
1. Seriously, skip this race if you haven’t been training properly. 
“If your body has not been sufficiently conditioned, you will be placing yourself under great physical stress if you attempt to run 42km. This translates into a higher injury-risk for you,” says Dr. Roger Tian, deputy medical director and consultant of the Singapore Sports Medicine Centre (SSMC). “Give yourself sufficient time to prepare for future marathons. Experienced runners need about 6 months, and novices, 6-9 months.”

2. Use the run-walk strategy if necessary
“If you are not confident of running the entire distance, alternate between running/jogging and walking for pre-determined time durations – 7mins of running/jogging followed by 3mins of walking, for example,” says kinesiologist Dr. Tan Swee Kheng, programme director atFifth Ray Integrated Activities. “However, you'll need to be very disciplined. Keep your focus and it will get you to the end.”

3. Call it a day if injuries threaten 
“Insufficient training may result in joints and muscles which are not ready for all the tarmac-pounding,” says Adrian Mok, elite endurance athlete and general manager of Polar Electro Singapore. “If you feel pain or great discomfort at any point, it may be best to call it a day.” Find out how you can manage common, less serious running ailments here.

4. Keep to your race-plan if you’re looking to clock a PB 
“From the onset, keep to your intended race-pace: Do not increase your pace to keep up with the leading pack, says Dr. Tan Swee Kheng. “If your race strategy is to run each part of the race at a particular speed, stick to it even when you find others overtaking you. Do not worry about falling behind – there is a high chance that you will be going pass them later in the race.” If you're still clueless about pacing strategies, check out what the experts recommend here.

5. Use focal points to keep yourself on-task 
Dr. Andrea Furst, Sports Psychologist at the SSMC says, “Include very clear mind- and body-focal points for every stage of your race. Direct your mind to these focal-points to keep yourself on-task if you find yourself being distracted from your race strategy.” Focal-points can include observing how your body feels while running, counting your arm-swings or foot-strikes and looking out for familiar landmarks along the race-route.

6. Be prepared for the crowds
With some 70,000 runners expected across all race categories during the Standard Chartered Marathon, you'll be bumping elbows with a large number of people at the starting line. With the increasing popularity of such races, this is a trend that's set to continue. Don’t let the sheer number of people overwhelm you. Instead, determine how you want to react to the crowd, says Dr. Furst. Mental rehearsal can assist with training your mind in the weeks leading to race day.

Nutrition, Hydration, and Re-fueling

7. Test your hydration and nutrition strategies
You don’t want to deal with nasty surprises on race day. So, try out your nutritional, refueling and hydration strategies during your training sessions, says Adrian Mok. You’ll need to know what, when and how much to eat and drink. 

8. Hydrate Accurately
Dr. Ben Tan, head and senior consultant of the Changi Sports Medicine Centre, and medical director and senior consultant of the SSMC says. “Hydrate before (so that you do not start the race dehydrated), during (drink regularly and don't wait until you're dehydrated), and after the race (to re-hydrate). To determine the amount of water you expect to lose during the race, run 10km in conditions similar to the race and weigh yourself before and after the run. The difference in weight is your water-loss per 10km. During the race, hydrate at the same rate by drinking at regular intervals.”

9. Eat 2 – 4 hours before flag-off
Consume your pre-marathon meal 2 – 4 hours before the race, says Foo Jia Min, a dietician at the SSMC’s Dietetic & Food Services. Go for low-glycemic index (GI) foods, such as wholegrain bread and cereal, for a slow and sustained release of energy during your race, and high-GI ones, such as pancakes, bananas, jam and honey to give your engine a quick-start. You can also opt for liquid nutritional supplements 1 hour before the race. Find out how to get the most out of your meals with our race-day eating plan here.

10. Time your consumption of energy gels. 
“Time the consumption of your energy gels properly,” says Singapore’s top marathoner, Mok Ying Ren. “Consume your energy-gels early: the first at the one-hour mark and thereafter, one every 45mins.”

Race Etiquette

11. Don’t hog the water stations
“Instead of standing in front of the water-station to drink, take what you need and move away from the tables. Do not block other runners from getting their drinks,” says Dr. Tan Swee Kheng. “Come back to queue for more, if required.”

12. Be realistic about your speed
“To avoid obstructing faster and more serious runners who are trying for personal bests (PBs), choose the correct starting pen,” says Dr. Tian. Be realistic about your running abilities: Don’t add to the initial congestion, which can extend for 500-1000m after flag-off.

13. Keep to one side
Do not obstruct others: Keep to one side of the road during your run, say our experts. If you feel that you need to slow down or to walk, give others the space to overtake by remaining at the right-most or left-most side of the road. Don’t not stop suddenly – the runner behind you will not have sufficient time to react. Jog slowly to the side of the road before you stop. And as with good driving, avoid cutting suddenly into the paths of other runners without warning.

14. Don’t hog the entire running path
If you’re planning to run with a group of friends, keep to two-abreast at most. The rest of the group can form up behind the two runners. This will allow faster runners to overtake your group easily. Avoid walking together as a group, however.

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