Since my first running event last October (Great South Run) I have been meaning to write a list of the thoughts that crossed my mind- mental memos about how to handle the whole day; what I need to know for the next time; thoughts and knowledge that should ease and help me when running/in training for an event. In the events that followed I learnt even more and I will certainly learn more in the future. For now, here are some thoughts that originated from a race that genuinely made me ask myself why I even entered!
1. Photos. It’s not for everyone but taking photos before a race turn my nerves or doubts into positive energy. The picture above is from the first half marathon I took part in- Gosport Half Marathon. I had just recovered from an injury that meant I couldn’t train how I wanted for it and potentially had a burst of shingles. I was apprehensive to say the least. It had been a LONG time since I’d run thirteen miles but taking pictures meant my mind was occupied! And, of course, an influx of new photos on my phone will only speed me up to finish the race- then I could place them on everyone’s Facebook feed, of course!
2. A good breakfast. For most events I have run with a porridge and banana in my system, but for one 10k I decided an omelette -really Kat?! – was what I needed. Not lacking in a bit of grease, I can’t say it made me feel ready for a 10k where I was aiming to be fast. To say I was feeling stodgy is an understatement! I will always follow Mum’s Breakfast Top Tip from now on.
3. It’s not them, it’s you. I have quite a few sprinkles of competitiveness in me and most of it, I like to think, is a good thing. When it comes to competitiveness fuelling me to compare myself to others… Not so good. I have learnt that if there are people I know in a race, I just have to forget about it. Or else I think, “Man I don’t want to be slower than them” when it really, really doesn’t matter. Like we have been taught since we were infants; just focus on yourself!
4. Don’t over think. Sometimes, on event day, I’ll anticipate the race in a way that makes me nervous and puts me off whereas I should be using these thoughts or nerves in a good way. Before the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon (the picture above!) I was feeling particularly nervous because we’d been warned about a sludgy, slippy route (man, I did not know what was coming) which was making me apprehensive, coupled with the fact that because of this warning, I wore rubbishy, old trainers. In reality all I could do is leave genuine fearful thoughts behind and wait for the day to play out. Throwback: I actually slipped on the mud and fell onto a man- I apparently should have been worrying about how to deal with a lot of embarrassment.
5. The day is now. Simple, but the day has arrived; just do your best and stay safe!
6. It will end. I took part in the Bournemouth Bay 10k Run this year with a chesty cough I thought had settled but evidently hadn’t (Katvice: if you’re not up for it, just don’t do it or drop out if you realise a bit too late!) and it flared up during the last two miles. I thought I could cope and although it messed up my time a little bit, the thought that the race will end definitely got me through! The picture above shows it did end and I got my favourite running top so far out of it!
7. To time or not to time. I can be pretty hard on myself when it comes to the times I get on event day. I track how I’m doing every time I do run and I’m always aware of how I am doing. This is all well and good sometimes; it can really help me and I’ll feel very aware of what I need to continue to do/start doing. However, for Great South Run I realised pretty early on I would not be getting my target time. For some it might be best, in these cases, just not to time it, but for me I can cope with it being in front of me. I made the choice, though, from that moment on in the Great South to just run it. I didn’t worry about timings and it did mean I was a little bit more relaxed.
8. Use the atmosphere. I adored the atmosphere of my first event day at the Great South; it was amazing and I can’t wait to experience it again this year. I didn’t use it to my advantage, though. It was electric and although it excited me, I remember it shooting nerves through my stomach, too. The next month at the Gosport Half Marathon, there were drummers you would hear and see quite a lot and I took that particular excitement and channelled it into feeling good and excited. I also now spend a lot of time at events hoping Eye of the Tiger will be played around the track so I can pretend to be Rocky!
9. A lick of the lips. A weird and yet necessary thing I have personally learnt is that my lips can get seriously dry and salty when I run and I must be conscious of keeping them hydrated. All of my runs so far have involved the seaside to varying degrees which has, I think, only contributed to an uncomfortable texture. Keeping my lips moist is important for me to feel able.
10. Enjoy. I adore taking part in running events so much because they are such a personal thing- they are a day for me to impress myself; or to at least enjoy one of my favourite hobbies. It relates to not over thinking, but on an event day, the best thing I can do is tell myself to enjoy it. Settle into the run and just soak up the views and atmosphere.
There is, of course, plenty more to be said and I would love any more advice if you’ve got some!
~ Kat ~