5 Things I learnt while training for SCKLM 2017
Ready, steady, go
- 1. Small investments, big rewards. As a leisure runner, I never really cared much for running watches—I have the Nike+ Run Club app on my phone so I simply tuck my phone into a small pouch and run with that. It was only when I got my hands on the Apple Watch Nike+ a few months ago that I finally realised how much easier it was to run with a watch. A slight flick of the wrist tells me what I need to know: distance, duration of run, time, and I can even schedule future runs on my watch. With built-in GPS, I don't even have to bring my phone on runs with me anymore. Other necessities: preferably two pairs of running shoes so you can alternate between them—I do long runs in Nike's Lunarepic Low Flyknit (or Lunarepic Low Flyknit 2) because I prefer a more cushioned run, and shorter runs in the Nike Free Flyknit. Apparently alternating between different shoe types help build micromuscles in your feet and ankles, making you a stronger runner.
- 2. Cadence. It was Nike running coach, Sue Teoh, who taught me about cadence, or the number of steps you take per minute. Faster cadence = faster running. "The idea is to minimise the time each foot spends on the ground while running," says Sue. One way of improving your cadence is to use a metronome (there are apps you can download for this) and run to the beat. In one training session I had with her, we did 5 x 1km runs to the beat of her metronome, which left me absolutely gasping for air—only after the run did she tell me we were going at a 5-minute/km pace. "Nothing worth having comes easy," she said, which immediately stopped me mid-whine. If running to a continuous beep is not your thing, try Spotify Running—the app measures your pace and plays songs that match your pace (Tiesto's tracks are great).
- 3. Carb-load early. At least 2 days before race day, not just the night before. Binging on a large plate of pasta at dinner before the race may lead to an upset tummy, which is what happened to me at the last Penang Bridge run. I was worried of getting hungry during the race and overloaded on carbs, which didn't sit well and made it difficult for me to run my best. I've since learnt to eat regular portions, switching up proteins for a bit more carbs. While some recommend switching to white versions of rice and bread 2-3 days before race day to minimise extra fibre intake, I haven't had any issues. My go-to race day breakfast (at least 90 minutes before the race) is a peanut butter and banana sandwich, sometimes with additional Nutella, if I'm feeling cheeky.
4. Race day is not the time to try anything new. Not socks, not shoes, not hair ties (don't underestimate the necessity of a good hair tie) and definitely not food. Pin your race bib to your t-shirt the night before, pack 2-3 energy gels, earphones, and get to the race location as early as you can so in the event you're faced with an unexpected road closure, at least you'll make it to your race pen in time for the start of the race (which fortunately was me at SCKLM 2017 but unfortunately also meant I couldn't use the Portaloo before the race).
5. Pace Yourself. Yes, there will be plenty of people running past you but a half marathon is a long way to go so resist the urge to surge. Aim to run the second half of the race faster than the first, what's known as a negative split, which ensures you won't tire out too quickly at the start of the race. I also try to think of the race in smaller chunks of distances, especially in the second half when things get tougher. Personally, the last 3kms are the toughest—that incline after the 18km mark on the SCKLM route is unforgiving, but I try to focus on my form, turn the music up a notch and count down each km. Ultimately, listen to your body, enjoy the run and celebrate your finish. You've run a long way for that free banana.