Time to research the practical side of your event

Avoid any surprises on race day by studying the route and the terrain

As the daylight increases, consider opting for an alternative surface to paths or roadsides. Photograph: Alan Betson

With only two weeks remaining in our coaching programme, many of you have your eyes clearly set on your end-of-plan graduation parkrun or race.

What may have seemed impossible a few short months ago is now very real and well within your grasp. Although you still have a few more training sessions before the big day, it’s never to early to research the practical side of your event.

Know Your Race

Avoid any surprises on race day by studying the route and the terrain. No one likes to face an unexpected uphill on race day. If you have the opportunity, walk, run or drive the race route this week. Failing that, most events will provide maps and elevation charts to help you plan your race strategy. Consider the time of day of the event and how far in advance of the start time you will need to arrive. Save energy and stress on the big day by leaving none of the practical logistics to chance. Racing to the start line after a stressful morning is no one’s idea of an optimal warm-up.

 A Trial Run

Consider your weekend run in this week’s training plan as a trial run for the race day. Schedule your training run at the same time as your event will take place, have the same breakfast you plan to eat and wear the same clothes as you will race in. Plan the time gap you need between breakfast and running. It’s better to experiment now and make any gastro mistakes this weekend than on race day.


Drinking on the Run

If you are sufficiently hydrated, there is no need to bring water on your runs, especially in the current weather. Hydrate well during the week and avoid the temptation to drink a lot before you run. Holding water bottles, or anything else for that matter, can impact our running. The clenched fist tightens muscles right up into the shoulder and can impact on posture, arm swing and general comfort. If you do feel that you cannot run without bringing water, be sensible about the size of bottle you require and carry it on a belt or alternate hands regularly.

A Different Path

Most of us end up running on pathways or roadsides, especially in the winter when we need to keep in areas that are well lit and safe. As the daylight increases, consider opting for an alternative surface. Woodlands trails, short grass, gravel paths or sand are less jarring on the body than roads and paths. Vary your route and location where you can to experiment with new running surfaces this week. An even surface, a bright environment and reasonably flat terrain are ideal for beginners.  Check out this week’s videos to find out more about running surfaces and treadmills.

The Outdoor Treadmill

Regardless of running surface, we can still reduce the impact running has on our joints by being mindful of how we hit the ground. The heavier our steps, the more force that is sent up through the body. A wonderful Chi Running technique drill involves imagining running on a treadmill when we are outdoors. Focus on lifting your feet just enough to let the road pass underneath you and disappear behind you. This change of mindset from each step being a strike of the ground to being a light lift off the ground helps us glide across the surface rather than hit the ground with a bang.

Listen out this week for your feet telling you to run lighter. If you can hear them pounding, turn on your imaginary outdoor treadmill and watch how that helps you move.

Wishing you all a great running week.