Keep calm, plan and take control of your run

2014-02-15 00:00

NEXT weekend around 6 000 runners will descend on Pietermaritzburg for the Witness Maritzburg City Marathon, which has grown into one of South Africa’s biggest City Marathons and the most popular Comrades and Old Mutual Two Oceans qualifier.

With five days remaining until the marathon flame is lit at the Carbineers’ grounds, many runners understandably are noticing the nervous signs of apprehension:

Concerns build that you have done insufficient training.

Niggles and aches mysteriously appear, and then you begin to deny your own ability.

Everyone else seems to be doing more than you, going for better times and in better condition than you. As the spiral of negativity gains momentum you even doubt how you will complete the distance, let alone get the time or qualification you were so confident of only days ago.

Keep Calm. You are in control.

These are common reactions of any runner preparing for a marathon and are purely the symptoms of someone about to do great things.

This week is the final taper, which means you will have minimized training, which raises doubt in your physical ability, but in fact this rest is allowing your muscles to recover, rebuild, recharge and get stronger ready for the marathon effort.

Doubt is what stops you. Our perceptions of what people expect of us add even more pressure.

However, it is generally our perception of what we think others expects of us, and the truth is other runners are too busy concerned with their own performance to be truly worried about any other runner. So the pressure we feel is generally brought on ourselves and unnecessary.

Take a different viewpoint: start by looking at your past results in time trials, 10 km events and even half marathons if you are running the marathon on Sunday. If you are running the half marathon look at your 10 km and five kilometre performances.

Use these times to estimate a realistic finish time:

Multiply five kilometres times by 9,54 for a marathon time and by 4,58 to get your potential 21 km time.

Now that you have a realistic goal time, spend sometime working on a race plan by working out the average pace. This is type of effort you need to be using for the core six kilometre to 16 km in a half marathon or the 10 km to 35 km in the marathon. The initial portion of the marathon (first 10 km) and half marathon (six kilometres), should be at a slightly easier effort level than the average pace.

The challenge in the Maritzburg City Marathon is that the first kilometre is downhill, which combined with the adrenaline results in many runners going too fast. This is immediately followed by three kilometres of deceptive gentle uphill. This needs to be taken particularly slowly so that the body can adapt to the effort.

If you take this triple effort approach to the race then by the time you get to the final section, you are able to step up the level and intensity of running and so you can push to the finish. As you do this you will be passing those who went off too fast and each person passed is an extra mental boost that again sees you running faster … Soon you are running your personal best or to your target time.

In most cases it is best to put a short walk between any changes in pace as this helps to break the rhythm of one pace so you can choose the next pace.

Also use this final week to start laying out all the items you need for the race and planning your travel to the start. Put socks, shoes, shorts, vest and your Replenish powder, Sporty Bites and drink bottles out on the bed. Add in the safety pins, toilet paper, Vaseline and all those other odds and ends that you will need on race morning. Commencing this early allows you to ensure you take everything required and don’t forget a change of clothes and shower kit for after the race.

Training is not the focus for this week, planning preparation and taking control is! The sooner and more you think your race through, visualising how you are going to run the race and even getting to the start, the better prepared you will be and the better the time you will run.

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