Looking to score your personal best timing? Besides regular training, you’ll need to tweak your race style and habits. Fly Entertainment artiste and marathoner Stephanie Carrington shares her best tips to ace a race.
Don't sprint at the beginning At the starting line, you are full of energy and excitement. It feels natural to go fast, but you need to pace yourself. “Instead of sprinting, go at a manageable pace where you can still talk, and slowly build it up,” says Stephanie. Save your energy for the last 1km or so of the race, so you can pick up the speed for a strong finish.
Don't weave through the crowd You’re essentially taking more steps – and wasting precious energy – if you zigzag to overtake other runners. That will make you tired more quickly, and may even lead to injuries. Stephanie shares: “I was weaving quite a bit during my Tokyo Marathon. That really killed my knees. I was in pain for a week after the race.”
To avoid weaving, start your race at an appropriate part of the crowd. Usually, the faster runners (under 6min/ km) put themselves in front of the pack, while the slower ones (more than 8min/km) stay at the back. If you must overtake, keep right and only speed up if there’s space to pass through.
Ditch your earphones Running with music is motivating, but you should consider going sound-free during a race. Reason: It allows you to focus on your running tempo and cadence (number of steps you take in a minute). “Knowing my cadence helps me keep a steady pace and prevent overstriding,” says Stephanie.
When you’re plugged in, you’re likelier to match your speed to the song beat, which is unlikely to be consistent. Also, you become less aware of your stride lengths. Overstriding is a common cause of knee and back injuries, as it puts more impact on the joints.
Go easy at hydration points There’s no need to chug down the entire cup of water or isotonic drink offered to you. Guzzling too much liquid at once may cause you to choke or get stomach stitches. Instead, sip mindfully. Stephanie says: “I take a big gulp and keep the water in my mouth. Then I swallow it little by little as I go along.” Toss away the cup as soon as possible to avoid spillage.
Stretch thoroughly before and after the race Making time to stretch pre- and post-race has its payoffs. “Before a run, I’ll stretch at home. I focus on my quads and calves, and also do a couple of yoga and pilates moves to stretch my back and shoulders. I noticed that when I get tired during a run, my shoulders will stiffen up and become painful. Don’t neglect your upper body!”
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