It's less than a month away from the Portsmouth Great South Run; are you ready? I wanted to offer some of my top tips, that will help to secure a competitive run that you'll be happy to rave about.
Progression is key
Training can be a minefield with endurance events such as a 10 mile run, but it doesn't have to be. So let's start off steady: one full run to gain endurance and to prepare for distance, alongside a pace run (set the targets) and interval training. Ensure you keep interval training sets in and endurance range such as 1:1 or 1:0.5 work-to-rest ratios. Increase your working phase by 1-2 km/ph every other week. We are already at the one month stage so I would assume a steady level of endurance has already been built. Therefore your task is to complete two interval speed sessions, two long runs and one pace run (Track. That. Pace).
Consistency is a virtue
Although it seems simple, we all know keeping consistency is an every day battle. Consistency is especially important when training for an endurance event. Not only does this relate to physical exercise but timings, rest, sleep, stress, and nutrition. So no exotic meals at the last minute, no exercise workouts to get last minute gains, and no late night benders on the build up to the race. We need to get real! Your body will be stressed in every direction.
Listen to the body
Due to our mind keeping us busy, our body says a lot without us knowing some times. Every so often let's listen to what it has got to say and keep mindful. Morning pain? Can't make it through today's meeting? Making all the wrong decisions? What's the reason for these niggles? Do we need to adjust nutrition, get more rest days or eliminate stress? Be kind to your body and mind.
In any endurance event we need ENERGY, so that means carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are divided into two types; complex and simple. We need to use these at different times. The complex carbs (for example a pasta dish) need to be consumed between 1 and 1.5 hours prior to training or a race. The complex carb dish will slowly release energy throughout the training or race to keep you going. On the other hand, simple carbohydrates have a quick sugar release sending your blood sugar level high (all dependant on the food) giving you that boost just before the training or race. These are Ideally consumed 20-30 minutes prior to race (and yes these can be Jelly Babies!). Throughout your training ensure nutrients are varied, meaning greens and citrus fruits should be consumed daily. Don't let your immune system get beaten.
Water is a God send. This is the glue to our organs, so we need to keep it topped up to ensure all are working at their best. There are many ways to measure your hydration, one that is very accessible is checking out your wee. The darker the colour the more dehydrated you are, we are aiming for clear urine. During the race it is very easy to over-consume and under-consume fluids. I would recommend 250ml every 45 minutes to 1 hour, but we all differ so take that as an estimate and monitor how you feel. It's important to note the weather on the day, research this and increase your fluids accordingly. Most races have some tempting new sport isotonic drink on offer, but do be aware if you're not used to consuming these it could ruin your race. Keep everything the same.
It may be stating the obvious, but we are all made very differently and that's including our gait analysis. Your gait analysis is the relationship between your hip, knee and ankle. You can have this analysed in many running stores on a treadmill. Here, the assistants will be able to offer you the best designed trainers to suit and support you through your running. This is a priority. If you are investing time in running, you need to invest money in trainers. Purchase these at the beginning of your training and use them on all runs to enable your joints and muscles to become familiar with them. If you feel uncomfortable something needs to change.
Timing and targets
There is an app for everything, so it's no surprise that there is one to track your run. At first set a bench mark for yourself by running a distance that is slightly outside your comfort zone. From there give a realistic timed goal mile by mile — this will help you set your pace and your end time. Make your targets progressive for your pace run only, don't time the distance runs. This is just aimed at getting the mileage in and preparing those knees.
Know your route
Do your research! Locate incline, decline, and flat (work your hardest on these) sections of the run. And don't forget the number one hazard: PEOPLE! Get yourself in the right zone area for your target time; the wrong zone will only slow you down and get you doing slaloms around slower people.
It's not called The Great South Run for no reason and it's one of my favourites! Take it step-by-step. People will be roaring (including me), so embrace it and feel proud. I wish I could be running alongside you all. Good luck everyone!