Have you always longed to run a race? Well, lucky for you, it’s actually not that difficult to prepare for running your first race. As long as you’ve got the correct tools you need, you’ll be well on your way to success.
We’ve asked running coach extraordinaire Lucy Hurn for her top tips for race preparation and how to run a race well. Starting from a few weeks before, Lucy has compiled how best to prepare to get you to the race and over that finish line.
In the weeks before you run a race
- Follow a training plan – this will mean that, as your fitness builds, you steadily build up the runs so that you run faster for longer, rather than trying to do too much too soon. Following a plan will also help you prioritise getting the runs in each week, rather than life getting in the way and suddenly you find it’s Sunday and you’ve not run that week yet.
- Keep the easy runs easy so the hard runs can be hard – Don’t do all your running at just one pace or effort level. You need a variety of paces. Make sure the easy runs really are easy – if you work too hard on your easy runs, this risks leaving you too tired to be able to go really hard on the harder ones.
In the run up to the race
- Taper for the race – a taper means you reduce your training as the race approaches so that you are fresh on race day. Keep the intensity (how hard the run is) the same, but reduce how long the runs are. Taper length depends on your training history. As a rough rule of thumb, you’d taper for about a week for a 5K, and up to 3 weeks for a marathon. Use the time that you’ve saved to focus on foam rolling, mobility work or yoga. You can use an audio fitness and wellness app, like Auro, to help you with this.
- Practice your race day nutrition – for a 5K you don’t really need any fuel whilst you run, but you need to make sure you know what breakfast works for you and how far in advance you need to eat. Use your training runs to find what works best for you. For a longer race such as a half marathon or longer, you will need something during the run. Most runners use gels because they’re easy to digest whilst running, but again, find what works best for you in training and stick with it!
On race day
- Don’t go off too fast! It’s easy to get carried away; you feel fresh thanks to tapering, and the cheering crowds and excitement of the race spur you on. Try to have a rough idea of the pace you can hold, either based on looking at a watch if you have one, or based on how you feel. And if you’re still feeling strong half way through, then take the pace up slightly. It’s much easier to start a little bit slower and build up than recover from going off too fast at the beginning.
Want some more of Lucy’s best tips to run a race? Head on over to the Auro Facebook group and check out her handy videos. She explains how to perfect your form, fire those glutes, and get the most from your training!