Avoid these pre-race pitfalls

Training for a 10-kilometre fun run or full marathon takes dedication, time, effort and a strong will in order to complete successfully.

Training for a 10-kilometre fun run or full marathon takes dedication, time, effort and a strong will in order to complete successfully.

Getting up before the birds do, braving the cold morning temperatures, the snow on the ground or the searing heat of mid-day is a hard thing to keep going through.

The minor aches and pains, blisters, sore muscles are all part of the regular landscape that one must learn to accept and make a regular feature of your  day.

But for the rookie racer, the few weeks before the event it is an exhilarating time that can be very rewarding or disappointing, depending how the runner carries out their training regimen during this crucial time.

It is very unfortunate to see someone who trains so hard have a bad race experience because of errors in training or preparation during these penultimate days.

Here are a few tips and pointers for those that have embarked on this journey and are nearing the big day.

One of the biggest mistakes in your preparation is not sticking with your prescribed training schedule.

Sometimes runners do less or even more than what is required.

Runners who are feeling very good may get a sense of over-confidence and feel like they can miss training days and cut corners. I can tell you from experience that this is not a good thing to do.

I did this once many years ago while training for a marathon and the race itself was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had. Hitting the wall is not fun.

However, I know that staying on schedule always makes the marathon or half-marathon race feel good.

Others can also make the mistake of trying to cram too much training in, to make up for missed days, poor food choices, illness, and so on.

You can’t stuff extra workouts in during the last few weeks like you can cram for an exam. You need to follow the schedule, including the prescribed taper (the steady reduction in training volume over the final one to two weeks of training).

Trying something new in the routine can be a big problem for racers.

If you are used to training with a certain breakfast food and specific hydration and calorie replenishment during your runs, then don’t change it the day of the race. You don’t know how your body will respond to any new nutrient and the roadway is littered with tales of unfortunate nutrient choices.

Experts always advise against anything new in the days before a race, including clothing and footwear.

By the way, 10-km runners don’t need to worry about eating or drinking any supplement or drink that has added calories during the event, because the body only needs the extra calories and electrolytes for races longer than 60-90 minutes.

Water during the race, along with your normal, proper morning meal is all you’ll need.

Another mistake that’s often made is forgetting about the value of getting adequate sleep and reducing stress, especially during the final weeks of training.

It’s common for a new racer to be so excited and anxious about the race so as not to get enough sleep before the race, especially on the eve of the race.

You will be tired during the race if you’ve been tossing and turning all night in bed – believe it or not, this actually burns a lot of calories stored in your muscles that are invaluable for the race.

We are approaching some local 10-km, half and full marathon events in the next month, so be prepared and don’t forget the biggest thing is to have a lot of fun and enjoy the experience.


Kerry Senchyna holds a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology and is owner of West Coast Kinesiology in Maple Ridge (westcoastkinesiology.com).