Your legs are beginning to feel the strain of the continual pounding of each step as the sun climbs ever higher and the heat begins to take its toll. You feel like you’ve been running for hours, when suddenly you look to your left and see a long stretch of snow-white beach stretching endlessly up the Cape coastline. Directly below is the deep blue with patches of emerald green sea, breaking tirelessly against the cliff face, and you are gripped by the sheer beauty. You’re running one of South Africa’s most beautiful races…
That’s what you should be imagining right now, reading this article a short while before you’re due to run the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. Because with only a few weeks to go until race day, the hard work is done. It’s now time to start thinking about tapering and ensuring that you line up at the start rested and ready to race. As you move into these last few weeks, forget about trying to squeeze in any additional mileage. Rather focus on sharpening up and adding the finishing touches to your preparation:
- Shorter training sessions with quicker repeats will ensure that your legs are turning over quickly and efficiently.
- Get to a sports massage therapist who is able to get rid of the knots which have formed in the muscles as a result of the hard training of the past months.
Now is the time to begin to visualise the route and the race. Close your eyes and see yourself walking toward the start area. Hear the music blaring out from the PA system. Feel the excitement and adrenaline of your fellow runners as they cheerfully laugh and chat nervously around you. Feel yourself controlling your anxiety and keeping your nerves under wraps as you hold onto the quiet confidence deep within your being. A confidence that says, “I can do this. I’ve worked hard for this. I’m ready for this.” Feel yourself moving with the throng around you as the gun jump starts your heart and gets you underway. Visualisation is one of the most important aspects of race day success, yet the most neglected by so many runners.
There’s also a misconception among runners that your performance or achievements on race day are dependent on ‘the day.’ While this may be true to a point, our fate lies not with the running gods, but rather in how well we have prepared for the race. There are certainly aspects of race day we cannot control, like the weather, picking up a stomach bug or a last-minute change in the route. But those things only account for a very small percentage of the day. The other 90% are things that we can control, and with adequate preparation and planning, we place our success in our own hands.
RACE DAY TIPS
So when it comes to race day tips, tip number 1 is PLAN, PLAN and PLAN some more. If it rains again this year, what is your strategy going to be? What if it’s a cooker of a day? Try to factor in all the possibilities, and here are a few other tips for race day:
• Apply plasters, lube and sun-block before heading out the door. This way it’s done and no need stressing if there’s a delay getting to the start.
• Leave your accommodation with plenty of time to spare and get into your seeding pen as soon as possible.
• Cut your toe nails a few days before race day, NOT the night before. This way there’ll be no rough edges – and you won’t forget.
• Stop at a garage along the way for your last-minute loo needs to avoid the queues at the port-a-loos.
• Agree on a meeting spot at the finish with your family the night before.
• And my final and most important tip: NOTHING new on race day. Try and keep to your usual diet and eating routine in the few days before the race. Stick to the nutrition strategy you’ve used on long training runs and use the same gels or energy drinks. Don’t be tempted to try anything new.
GOOD LUCK and have a great race!