Your list of New Year’s resolutions probably includes getting fit and feeling great in 2012 (we know ours does!). A great way to put that thought into practise is to conquer the Standard Chartered Dubai 10K on 27 January 2012. The final day for registration is 31 December 2011, so you’ve still got time. Unless you’re thinking that you can’t do it because:
a) You’ve never run that far
b) You’ve been over-indulging in too much festivity of late (chocolates, cookies, more chocolates - you know the drill)
c) You don’t have time to train
d) All of the above!
No excuses, ladies! Actually, you have five-and-a-half weeks till the big day. That’s nearly 40 days to make some small changes in your routine to sail across that 10k distance!
Long distance runner and Middle East Adidas-sponsored athlete Victoria Leckie shows you the way in 10 simple steps:
With everyone starting with a different level of fitness, it’s impossible to give a ‘one size fits’ all approach. The key is to think about the distance you can cover now and then consider where you need to be. You want to cut back in the final few days before the race, so perhaps plan your longest run during the week ending 20 January. There's no need to cover the entire 10k - if you can cover 7/8k, the excitement and adrenaline on the day will get you across the finish line.
Plan to run perhaps three times a week and very gradually increase your distance. Keep it fun by mixing up your routes, downloading some cool new tunes or listening to podcasts. It’s all about multi-tasking, which we ladies have all mastered to a fine art! If you really want a more structured training programme, a quick Google search will bring hundreds of results with week-by-week countdowns. The Runners World site is like the little back dress of running advice.
Finally, all that pounding on pavement is tough on your body so try to find time for some cross-training too. Yoga and swimming are both particularly good and the perfect antidotes to the hard impact training that running brings.
People rarely over-train, rather they are normally caught short by ‘under rest’. So, if you start training more than usual over the coming weeks, give your body a chance to recover afterwards. This means regular chill outs on the sofa reading the latest goss on Ahlan! Live and regular trips to your favourite haunts with your girlfriends for a nutritious and delicious lunch. It does not mean trawling the mall for hours on end and exhausting your already overworked legs in the process nor does it mean going clubbing and dancing your bootie off till the wee hours of the morning!
Get lots of snooze-time in. When you work your body hard by day, you need to allow ample time for it to recover and repair by night. Start going to sleep a little earlier if you can’t manage an extra lie-in in the mornings. It’s tough at this time of year what with all the parties going on but really, leaving your secret Santa soirees half an hour earlier and getting a little extra beauty sleep will, over time, pay dividends. When you sleep, your heart rate and body temp lowers putting your entire body in a state of relaxation. If you don’t get this, your immune system will be compromised and you’ll be more prone to illness and injury. Don’t think that long lie-ins make up for late nights either - this is one area where it pays to be a little strict with yourself.
The fuel you give your body will determine your performance, not just in the race but your overall life. Ladies, you’ll need to turn your back on the low carb frenzy as carbs are your primary fuel when exercising and should make up about 50-60 per cent of your daily diet. Think wholegrain breads, pasta, oatmeal, potatoes, beans, fruits and vegetables. Protein is also important because it helps to build and repair your muscles. Aim to include 10-25 per cent of protein in your daily diet and eat it mainly after your workouts.
On the morning of the race, stick with what you know. That means eat what you normally do for brekkie but if you’re a coffee fiend, stick to just one cup so you don’t need the loo half way through. During the race itself, you probably won’t need to eat but if you're concerned about suddenly needing an injection of energy, I normally pop a handful of jelly beans into my pocket (most running shorts have a little pocket inside) There are plenty of sports performance gels and bars out there too but if you’ve not tried them before, don’t attempt to on race day. Besides, with this distance, they shouldn’t be necessary.
Staying well hydrated is really REALLY important, for all levels of runners. You should start upping your fluid intake in the days before the race so you arrive at the race start already hydrated. During the run, sip small but regularly. it’s a horrible feeling trying to run when you’re belly is bursting with water. You may want to consider taking electrolytes too as these will help replenish your sodium, magnesium and mineral levels. Sodium, in particular, is vital to replace after all that sweating. Elete electrolytes are my favourite. You just add a few drops to your water bottle and off you go.
I’m not just referring to being colour co-ordinated on the day and wearing this season’s best-loved hues! Rather, you need to make sure that the clothing you wear has been tried and tested before. Don’t wear brand new shorts as they might cause chaffing or new socks that may sag and cause you blisters. Always stick with what you know. As for your trainers, make sure they are well broken in and wear proper running shoes. My all time favourites are adidas cushion response, which I can’t recommend enough.
Pop on to the official Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon website and check out the course map. Better still, grab a girlfriend and walk or run it together. Work out where the drinks stops are so you can expect them on the day and know exactly where the race start is. In the days before the race, write a list of all you need to remember - what you will wear and what you need to take. You’ll also need to pick up your race pack with your bib and goody bag beforehand. Finally, work out what time you want to arrive at the race start and work backwards as to when you’ll have to leave home, get up, have breakfast etc. You don’t want to feel stressed out on the day.
Chaffing is a wicked consequence of your clothes running against your skin when you sweat. It causes a painful rash and it stings like crazy when you get in the shower post-run. If you're prone to chaffing, it is best to monitor this when you train. Just smear Vaseline on the affected parts the morning of the race. If you find your eyes sting and your mascara smudges when running (this too is because of sweat dripping from your forehead), smear a streak of Vaseline horizontally across your forehead. It really works!
Ever tried visualising? Whenever I have a big race, I use visualisation as a powerful tool to help me complete it. Visualisation is nothing more that really imagining yourself on the day - what the course will be like and how you will feel at the start, the middle and the end. Try to create as accurate a picture as possible so think about the sights, the smells, and the atmosphere. It is far easier to make something become real when we can imagine it so strongly.
Remember not to lose sight of the fact that the race is meant to be fun. On the day, the sun will be shining, the atmosphere will be amazing and all that matters is that you give it 110 per cent. If you get too tired to run, just walk. And if, for any reason, you can no longer do that, you pull out. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you give it your all.
And besides, it all else fails, you’ll have a ready-made fitness goal when the next 10k race opp comes around!
INFO: Tori Leckie is a writer, runner, blogger and adidas athlete. She regularly runs in long, off-road, endurance races throughout the world but continues to take having fun and being colour co-ordinated on the course very seriously. Visit www.fitchicksandfastwomen.com for her tales of trails, views and reviews, rants and raves.