Strava x Hackney Half: Panel Event
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at a training event ahead of the Hackney Half 2022. If you missed it don't worry - check out my half marathon top tips below!
Build up easy miles
A big mistake many of us make is pushing ourselves on every run we do. This makes it much harder for our bodies to recover and can also suck some of the joy out of running. A good way to increase mileage is to take longer runs at a comfortable, conversational pace. This can then be coupled with harder speed sessions to target your goal race pace.
Don't do it alone!
One of the best things about running is the social element. If you're struggling to stay motivated when it comes to longer runs consider running with a friend, attending Parkrun as part of your long run or joining a running club. Some London running clubs to check out include Midnight Runners, London Brunch Club and London City Runners.
Control the controllables
To avoid any race day surprises include some 'dress rehearsals' during your training. This means going through everything - breakfast, clothing, shoes, gels, sunscreen, anti-chaffing balms etc. I would recommend doing some of your long runs at the exact race start time so you can figure out what you need to eat beforehand and how it feels to run at that time. Kit is also a must - no new shoes on race day!! Practice a few different kit options so you have some choice depending on the weather.
Fuel those feet
You'll likely need to take on some nutrition during the race. Trial different gels, bars and sports drinks in advance, including how to consume them whilst you're on the move (sweaty hands and sticky gels aren't a great combo). Plan when you'll take them, i.e. every 5 miles or every 45 minutes, and try to keep on top of your energy levels during the race.
There's definitely a psychological boost that comes with having a gel so consider taking a spare in case you hit any low points!
Never neglect a taper!
Tapering is a reduction in training volume ahead of a race. It can be done in different ways - either a gradual decline over a few weeks or a short, sharp taper ten days before race day. Try to maintain some intensity but significantly reduce volume, i.e. cut down mileage but still include some 'race pace' running. The taper is just as important as any other part of your training schedule so plan ahead and stick to it! There is no point in training for weeks and weeks if you don't let you body recover and gain all the fitness benefits.
Have a mental 'game plan'
How are you going to pace yourself? What will you do if you hit the infamous 'wall'? These are all things to think about before you're at the start line! Mental preparation can be really helpful in overcoming the difficult moments during a race. Here's some things to try:
- Break the race up into smaller chunks, i.e. 'there's only one Parkrun left'
- Stick with a pacer or a pack of runners around you
- Know where cheer squads, friends and family are placed
- Have a plan A goal... but also a plan B goal if things aren't working out
- Picture the finish line and how you want to feel (including the medal!)
Resist the urge for a sprint start
If you've put in all the hard work, chances are your race pace will feel surprisingly easy as you start the race. The magic of a good taper, the buzz of the crowds and the pull of other runners make you feel like you're flying. BUT...you have a long way to go! Pace yourself and resist pushing too hard at the start. You might need to consciously slow yourself down. It can feel frustrating but ten miles in your legs will be thanking you.
Smile for the camera
Whether your race goes perfectly or not, it's always nice to have a decent race day photo. Ultimately the aim is to enjoy these events. So, smile for the camera - you never know, that might just give you the boost you need!
A big thanks to Strava and Hackney Moves for hosting this awesome event. It was a pleasure to sit alongside Shameek Farrell and James Holt on the panel. I'll be at the Hackney Half providing race feedback for anybody who wants to discuss their race.
See you then!
Photos: Simon Roberts