Monday, November 25, 2013

Racing Tips for Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2013

Having raced almost every year in the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon since 2004, save for 2011 and 2006 when I raced Ironman Western Australia, I have found the course challenging in a positive way. My PB was a 3:36 in 2010, and 3:38 last year (after inadequate training and poor pacing). The race-route remains the same as last year's. Here are some considerations if you are racing for your first time, or even aiming for a personal best (PB) timing.

It is less than a week away from the last marathon on the local calendar, so for tapering week your mileage should be minimal focused on maintenance, shorter distances (10km), with occasional faster bursts (sprints). The intention is to keep the muscles active and responsive to your faster, race pace. All the weeks of long runs, tempo-paced runs, hill-work and strength work should have dialed in the race-pace you seek. Keep injury-free, and attempt no unfamiliar workouts. For race-day, use the same nutritional aids you have been accustomed to, during training. Run in your preferred racing-shoes (lighter, race-shoes or heavier, training-shoes), however no new shoes. I would suggest that you resist buying things at the race-exposition/fair that you will not use. I use my On Cloudracers for marathons, and On Cloudrunners for training.

1) Lay out your used race-kit two days before, and check for wear-and-tear (especially of your shoes). Remember: running-shoes, socks, race-bib, timing-chip, watch, racing-top, racing-tights/shorts, spectacles/contact-lenses, sunglasses and cap (optional). I wear my timing-chip on my ankle when I awake. No chip, no timing!
2) If you use a Fuel-Belt, ensure that you bring enough calories in your bottles (2 or 4) and electrolyte (salt) tablets (1-2 per hour). Put salt-tablets into a small plastic bag or film-cannister for easier access during the run. 
3) Fill your sports-gels the night before into the bottles, and load it into your belt when you awake on race morning. I use Hammer Nutrition Perpeteum and fill my bottles with the maltodextrin/protein mixture over night, then add water before I leave the house.
4) Bring money (for cab and a good post-race meal), cash-card (for bus after the race), and two extra packs of gels. I leave my smartphone at home.
5) Have a light breakfast comprising simple carbohydrates (including bread, fruit, or an energy drink). Sip some water as you take your breakfast. Gulping too much water at one go, merely encourages fast release of it. If you cannot eat anything heavy, take a maltodextrin-based energy-drink. I usually drink Perpeteum at breakfast, and a pack of sports-gel (Stingers) 30 minutes before the race. 
6) Clear your bowel as much as you can before sleeping, and at least once before the race. A strong cup of coffee helps me do the deed effectively. Be light, feel lighter.
7) Too much water too soon before the race may encourage peeing, so arrive earlier to dispel excess fluid before heading to the pen. If you have to, relieve yourself at a tree in the early kilometres of the race, as your head out from the city limits. Practise discretion and not flash your badge. It is still a public event.
8) Park yourself to the front of the faster pen. If you want to attempt a PB/PR/BQ timing, you want to have a clear line of passage when the start-gun goes off. Recreational runners and fatigued runner may impede your smoother pacing.
9) Drink at least a cup of fluid (water or isotonic drink) at each aid-station. The humidity in the morning can be horribly high (near 100 percent) and you will be over-heating if dehydrated. I usually skip the isotonic drinks as I rather not risk stomach distress from the usually higher sugar content in these commercial preparations. That is why I bring my own salt-tablets (CrampFix) and consume them at the aid-stations (where i follow it with water only).
10) Pacing is key, as you do not want to head into Zone 3-4 until the later stages of the race. Keep your heart-rate lower (aerobic zone 1-2) so as to utilise more fat as fuel rather than muscle and liver glycogen. If you pace well, you will experience your second wind and third wind (fat metabolism), and more. There is a bridge to climb at the last few kilometres (heading out from the Gardens-By-The-Bay), plus several slopes to pre-exhaust you.

Stay tuned for more tactical suggestions. See you on Sunday!

Photo-credit: Mel C. (Complete race-kit described in photograph - same set-up for Sunday)

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