Half marathon, marathon training, spring marathon

Top tips for acing your first race in 2020

I was asked by the Guardian to give my top five tips for acing your first race of 2020. Read on to find out more;

  • Train smart. It doesn’t have to be all about the mileage, key to successful training is ensuring varied intensities and distances in your weekly programme. A good basic formula is 1 x steady run, 1 x fast interval session and 1 x long slow run. Injury plagues millions of runners, so prioritise strength training too.
  • Planning your logistics ahead of time will make you feel less nervous and more confident on race day. Set out your tried and tested kit the day before, plan your travel (plus allowing for a missed connection), know what you will eat when and where the last toilet stop is.
  • Plan your pace based on your fitness, the course and the weather conditions. Your strategy could be a consistent pace all the way round or aiming for a negative spilt (running the second half more quickly than the first). Use your watch to help you and get a pace band to wear on the day.
  • Give your body the best chance to perform. If your race is on a Sunday make sure you get good sleep on the Thursday and Friday nights. Slightly increase your carbohydrate intake 48 hours before the race and plan to get a decent portion of protein after the race. Practice your race fueling strategy in training and don’t try anything new on race day.
  • If you are planning a PB (Personal Best) there’s no hiding from the fact that it’s going to hurt. Prepare yourself mentally for this – have a positive mantra you can repeat to yourself, use visualisations and turn a grimace to a grin! Science proves smiling reduces our perception of pain.

Happy racing!

Guardian with title page