To paraphrase Angry Jogger, “there’s only so many ways you can describe putting one foot in front of the other”.
I’m not a huge fan of race reports. I don’t have anything against them, but at this noob stage in my running journey I don’t obsessively pore over them.
Nonetheless I was inspired by The Millennial Next Door’s recap of her race and training, so this is a combination of my race day observations.
The Course: two hilly laps of Greenwich Park; the first of the Royal Parks 10k Series. I’m using these as training runs for my first half marathon in October. I want to get used to race day nerves, recovery techniques and experimenting with my nutrition. This was the first 10k I’d actually raced as opposed to just run, and my only goal was to break 1 hour. Pre Race
My pre-race breakfast was: porridge, a banana and two cups of strong coffee. I’ll be trying to switch it up a bit on different race days as an experiment. I know they say nothing new on race day, but since anything leading up to the half will be considered practice, I’m okay with performing sub-optimally on a single occasion if it will pay off in the long run. Anyway, porridge seemed to do the trick. I was running late because my nervous OCD kicked in and I wasted a ton of time frantically checking I hadn’t forgotten something essential.
So I ran to Greenwich Park. It’s not so far (2.5 km) but it’s steep uphill. This may or may not have been a good idea, I’m still undecided. I was lovely and warmed up, but there’s also the chance that I tired myself out. Like I said, I’m experimenting. I was wearing the same blue vest I wore for a 10k fun run last year, and as soon as I was handed my race number I remembered very acutely that I hated racing in it. I think it rode up horrifically last time there was a number attached to it. But fortunately, I got a free tech tee. Panic over!
The race itself was perfectly fine- I only have fond memories of it! This is mainly due to two guys I met on the course who became my pace buddies for the first few miles. I heard them say “let’s follow her, she looks professional” and that pretty much won me over! Flattery will get you everywhere boys. The first half of the race was spent worrying that I was going too fast and I was gonna tire out. But when I got to the 5k mark I had boundless energy, so I decided to speed up and run the second lap at a faster pace. I left my pace bros and sped on. The hilly course was very challenging the second time round, but I finished in 53:39 which I’m absolutely stoked with! I then went back to the finish line and caught up with my newfound friends. We complained about the last hill and laughed about the dog that had run out in the course and nearly tripped us all up. I didn’t get their details but tried to persuade them to run the rest of the series, so I may see them again!
I had Malteasers and an ice bath. It was my first ice bath, and I did it more out of curiosity. I don’t really think it helped. I think I foam rolled and stretched unenthusiastically at some point too. Then I had a protein shake, scrambled eggs, and PBJ on toast; put on my compression socks and fell asleep on the couch for a good few hours. Time well spent in my opinion.
Learnings from this race:
- The porridge + banana combo seems to work for me. Though like I said, I’ll be experimenting for the next one.
- Hill running and training at altitude have really paid off. I will be incorporating hill training into my training plan as I CBA to do speed work.
- I need to build me some muscle. Strength training needs to happen. Ok, I knew this already, but I’m more committed than ever. #gainz
- I ran the course the week before, and this helped immensely. I knew when the hills were coming, and when to hold back to preserve energy.
- Racing without headphones allowed me to chat to people and pace myself much more effectively.
- Ice baths: I can take them or leave them. I even read that they can inhibit recovery.
- A nap after long/hard runs really helps- I wasn’t groggy or tired at all the next day.
I’ve definitely caught the racing bug, can’t wait for the next one!
What’s your top race day breakfast? And how do you cope with pre-race nerves?