Promoting running and physical activity one joyful heartbeat at a time!
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Racing is a game for most of us, and it is also a commitment. By the time you arrive at the starting line, you have signed up, you have prepared, you have increased your skill level, and all that’s left to do is to enjoy the scenery, the people and the brilliant feeling of completing what you set out to do. There is something elevated about racing, and you can practice your race day skills easily during a Virtual Event. You won’t have the energy of all those people around you, but if you are using tracking technology and have signed up for a Virtual Event, it’s easy to feel connected through post event sharing.
A great event experience starts the day before, with an intention to rest your legs and fuel your body. The day before the event , try to conserve energy and eat three good meals that are carbohydrate rich in order to top up glycogen in the muscles. Avoid anything that is unusual: this includes novel sport activities or eating food that you would normally never eat. Stick to what you know works for you.
A seamless and stress free morning paves the way for an enjoyable event so before you go to bed the night before, organize for your day, so things run smoothly and you aren’t looking for lost items at the last minute. Plan your breakfast timing and items and most importantly, your morning mindset. The last thing you should tell yourself at night is this:
Tomorrow morning I get to wake up and do the TC 10K Virtual event!
Note how this language is markedly different from “I have to get up and do 10k tomorrow.” (inner groan.)
In the morning, you will be ready. You know what to wear, what to eat and where to go. Your mindset will be one of excitement and anticipation about the great opportunity to train and work on being efficient, smooth, and emotionally strong and positive.
A 10Km distance gives you plenty of time to experience the joy of walking and running well, which includes—if you are pushing yourself—embracing discomfort and staying mentally strong through any rough patches where doubt and negativity like to creep in. Anticipate the fatigue and have some tools on hand to re-focus. Task oriented self-talk is always good at this point. Focus on your arms, your feet, your breath, being relaxed…’can do’ action items that you control.
Great training and racing always focuses on what you can do, not what you ‘hope’ to do. Here is a step by step breakdown of what to expect over the course of a 10k distance. If you are doing a 5k distance, the same steps apply, however the race is easily chunked into three sections: a start, a middle and an end. Your first km is similar to the 1-3k mark in the 10k, the middle is like the 7km, and the end is the end no matter what distance you are doing!
NOTE: Very fit and experienced athletes will be able to absorb the fast start of a 10k as their legs will be strong but for beginners I would advise to pace very conservatively over the first five kilometres of the course so as not to go out too fast with excitement. This will ensure leaving energy for the second half.
Start: It’s easy to get excited with the nature of an event – and in a live race, participants, spectators and atmosphere add inspiration to the morning. Your task is to stay energized and calm. The first kilometer is the place for experienced or more competitive athletes to get out to a fast start, or their goal pace, and for the novice to find space and a comfortable pace of work and breathing.
1-3K Mark: people should be thinking ‘light’ and ‘quick and relaxed’, working on feeling relaxed by using the arms well and breathing deeply. Because it is early in the distance, you want to be at pace but have it feel as effortless as possible. Focus on landmarks ahead and getting to them well. Novice racers will want to make sure they are practicing their own pace. Any hills? Use gravity and try to carry momentum down and up hills focussing on finding quick rhythm over the crest and onto flats.
3-4K Mark: You are into the heart of the race distance now, and should be really into a strong rhythm that takes focus to maintain. Your thoughts are on the moment, allow distractions to come and go without giving them too much energy. Be present and enjoy this effort!
5-7K Mark: This is where the race typically starts to feel hard and people should expect discomfort to rise and have prepared some strong positive thoughts here. Strong process cues about being relaxed and good positive self-talk should be practiced now.
7K Mark: There is 3 km to go at this point in the race and you can now start counting down the minutes left until you cross the finish line. Knowing that you have 15 or 18 or 30 minutes left to run or walk is positive information! Start giving yourself positive cues: Fly! Glide! As you start your push for the finish, having some landmarks for 2k to go and 1k to go is a good thing here. If you have pre run the course, find markers for these spots.
8K Mark: You should be drawing on all your resources to finish as strongly as possible. You can remind yourself to relax, to focus on good form, recall all the dedication and training you have done to get here, tell yourself to be tough. There is only 2 km to go!
9K Mark: How you handle yourself in these last few minutes is what you will be most proud of. It is often the effort of the last two kilometres that makes your race: how deep into the well can your source your inner and outer strength? Celebrate your efforts and soak it all up!
If you are prepared, the magic will happen.