With the upcoming 5km AIA glow run coming up on 25 May and OSIM Sundown Marathon on 1 June, some of you might be contemplating doing your first 5km race. Most people think a 5km race is as simple as popping on your trainers and then going straight into it. For some, it is, for others, it isn’t.
I am Dave Lee, UFIT Physiotherapist based at UFIT Clinic Orchard and I have been running for many years and I will be conducting our RUNFIT bootcamp. If you are in the stage of contemplation, you can benefit greatly from the bootcamp here. I am hoping I can move you from contemplation into action! Here are 5 tips to help you in running your first 5km race.
With any type of running event, preparation is key. I still remember one of my favourite teachers at school and his 5 P’s – perfect preparation prevents pathetic performance – well that was the clean version. In our case it can mean the difference between an enjoyable 5km and a horrendous time. It is inevitable mistakes will be made along the way, trust me I have made plenty. These tips are from mistakes I have made and I’m hoping by informing you prior to your run it can help you have a much more enjoyable experience. If you do make any blunders, learn from them and take them into your next event. That’s right, your NEXT event!
1. Don’t start out too fast
This is a common mistake made by many runners due to a combination of nerves, enthusiasm or being caught up in a group of runners at a faster pace. If you have a chance before the race know what pace you can consistently maintain from start to finish. If you have any extra energy left you can pick up the pace towards the end of the race and finish in a flourish rather than struggle because you have gone out too fast too soon.
2. Eat your last meal well before the start of the race and eat what works best for you
In relation to the time it will take you to complete the 5km there is no need to constantly be chowing down before the run or to worry about food intake during the run. Stick to a breakfast you are comfortable with that has been tried and tested. Leave plenty of time after eating and don’t try anything new – your digestive system may not appreciate it. Races, especially in Singapore, tend to be early in the morning. This may mean going to bed early the night before and getting up with enough time for appropriate intake before the 5k. Good knowledge of nutrition can help particularly if you start to target longer races or want to improve the time of your short distances. UFIT has a great team of nutritionists if this is an avenue you wish to pursue in the future.
3. Set yourself more than one goal
Obviously, everyone will have the goal of finishing the 5km. Many runners have a time-focused goal. However, not everything in life runs smoothly. It can be frustrating if something out of your control affects race time. Maybe have some goals that are not time based like running at least 2km without stopping, not to walk on inclines etc. This can contribute to the positive feeling during a 5k and can break down the distance into smaller achievable chunks.
4. Reduce your stress – Pre race nerves are a natural process for most runners. However, you can reduce the amount of stress with good preparation. The fact are reading blog means you are preparing more than most! Here are a few examples:
Familiarise yourself with the route. If you have chance, go and walk/jog the route beforehand. If not, look on a map. Break down the route with landmarks so you know where you are throughout the course.
Lay out all items you will need the evening before. The last thing you want to be doing is running around trying to find something. Create a checklist if it helps.
Plan your route to the start line and leave early. You will stay relaxed if you get there with time to spare. If you can’t find a parking space or can’t get a taxi it will only add unnecessary stress and panic.
Stop worrying – The likelihood is you know you can walk 5km which means you can finish the run. The pressure you feel is only put on by yourself. Remember you are doing 5km more than the person sitting on the sofa at home. Visualise yourself crossing the finish line and try to enjoy the run no matter what obstacles are thrown in your way.
5. Have a post race plan – get warm, keep moving, refuel to get going the next day
Many runners prepare well for before the race but not many have a post-race plan.
Keep moving – after the race it is tempting to receive your medal and immediately rest. Try to remain walking for at least 10 minutes. This will help flush out toxins and slowly reduce you heart rate back to its resting rate. It can also help reduce post-race stiffness.
Refuel – Nutrition and hydration is just as important after an event as it is before. Although it is tempting to celebrate with a beer or fatty foods try to be clever with your intake. Drinks that have electrolytes replace those lost in your sweat and nutritious food greatly aid your recovery
Keep warm – After a race you will be very sweaty. As your core body temperate reduces you can become cold quite quickly even in the humidity of Singapore. Have a spare change of clothes on hand that you can change in to.
Get going the next day – You are likely to feel a bit sore, stiff and painful but it is important to try and get yourself moving even for a light walk. This will aid recovery and allow you to get back in to your usual exercise regime sooner rather than later.
I hope these tips have been useful. As mentioned, you can always join our RUNFIT classes to better get you acquainted with running. So set your doubts aside and go forth to conquer some distances!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
With a love for sport and exercise from an early age, Dave is a UK qualified physiotherapist from Cardiff University with a previous degree in Sport Science. Prior to working as a medical professional Dave spent six years working in the health and fitness industry. He is also an avid athlete with experience in football, marathons, cycling sportives, and triathlons.