By Richmond Stace, Specialist Pain Physio MCSP MSc (Pain) BSc (Hons)
There are many tips one could give, and indeed I have been given lots of advice that has helped me. Here are my top 5.
1. Get to the start line
This may sound obvious, but this is always a primary goal. It means that you have followed your programme and not over- or under-done the training. Along the way there are always aches and pains; that is to be expected. However, sometimes there is a decision to be made: should I train or not? This maybe when you have a recurring pain or an injury (they are not the same or well related — read here) or if you are unwell. The former you should take advice to determine what has happened and what you must do, and the latter will require a period of recovery.
People often fear that they will be behind in their training or lose fitness of they cannot follow their programme to the letter. However, when you remember that only by getting to the start line will you be able to participate, then the best decision becomes clearer.
2. Chill out the week before but plan it
For at least a week before take it really easy. It’s a wonderful time relaxing, eating and having more time…also known as tapering and maranoia! Suddenly it seems like you are not training, which can throw you. Keeping focused and planning the week is important. You will feel better for it as the excitement builds.
Your training plan will include tapering. This means a few easy runs to keep moving at an easy pace, and perhaps a short one (just a few kms) at race pace for the feel. The rest of the time can be spent keeping your body moving and relaxed with a daily stretching programme, yoga, lots of movement if you have a sedentary job, walking, easy swimming, breathing exercises, meditation, focusing on what you want to achieve (see below), consistent bed times and fuelling up. Make a plan for this and stick with it. Writing down your plan makes it more likely you will follow it.
3. Plan your travel and logistics
As relaxed as you maybe, plan what time to arrive at the start and how you will get there. You will be excited and nervous (they feel the same, so you can decide…), so to fully enjoy the build up in the morning, know what you are doing. Late surprises or forgetting kit is annoying and can easily knock you off track. Keep it simple.
This is a habit of peak performers, paying attention to the detail and focusing on what you can control: your plans and attitude. Things to consider: pack your kit the night before, time to arrive, how to arrive, breakfast, hydration, bag drop (there can be long queues), toilet (there can be long queues), when to get to the starting pen.
4. Use visualisation as a way to focus
Keeping focused is important, especially as the excitement builds. It is also a great thinking tool when tough moments arise during the run. What do you want to achieve?
There are many things you can focus on to lift your energy and maintain direction towards your picture of success. For example, visualise running over the finish line, bring to mind the purpose of your run (what is the reason why you are running the distance?), or think of loved ones who are spurring you on. Notice the change in your energy as you do.
5. Enjoy it and look around
It goes by in a flash. So, from the moment of registration until the end, look around and take it all in. You maybe running somewhere stunning or be surrounded by inspiring people who are running for great causes; take it all in and feel the positive energy.
All the training has been done. Usually the training is much harder than the actual day — that’s the purpose in a way. With two weeks or so to go, there’s nothing to be gained fitness-wise, so focus on preparing to be in the best shape (see above) so that you can enjoy the day. The moment that you duck under the finish line, you will feel an incredible wave of emotion in the light of what you have just achieved. The final straight is as close to sensing what it is like to be at the Olympics as people cheer and shout, and suddenly you experience that famous burst of energy, striding towards the end. For many though, this will not be the end. It will be the beginning.
Thanks to Richmond for sharing and you can find out more here about Richmond and his mission to help people understand pain so they can overcome their suffering and focus on living well.