runNTU – Top tips

On your marks, get setOn your marks, get set

7 tips for doing a 5K run

Before running the runNTU in 2012 I had never taken part in a sponsored sporting event of any kind, but, after the run I felt so great and it was such an enjoyable day that I had no second thoughts about signing up again for the future runs.  Through asking around and some internet research I went from being a complete novice to someone who looks like they know what they are doing (well, that is the impression I tried to give off anyway) so I thought I would share some of the tips I have learned over the past 2 years with you.  Please be aware that these are just basic common sense tips, there are plenty of more ‘in depth’ and comprehensive training for a run type guides online and, although you may not agree with everything I have to say, they are all things which certainly have worked for me.

1) Practice makes (almost perfect)

Make sure you have done a few mock 5k runs before the day.  A running machine at a gym is always the easier (and more comfortable)  option but there is no substitute for getting out and doing a run outdoors just so you can become used to the variation of terrain and, our sadly, very temperamental  weather conditions.  If possible ask around and get a ‘running buddy’, it is always easier to train if you have someone to motivate you into working out and to compete with.  Also, you may be interested in a training schedule (you can devise your own or get one from online) so you can start off a few weeks before the run and slowly challenge yourself and build up your running ability.

2) Avoid getting nervous (well try to)

This is easier said than done, but like exams and job interviews  there is always the onset of nerves which comes with any sporting competitions .  The best way to combat this is to do as much preparation as possible- get everything ready and packed the evening before and (if possibly) do a trial run on the exact course or see the map of the run before the big day so you know what to expect.  Try to take it easy on the night before the run- have a night in to relax, read, catch up with TV and make sure you don’t go to bed too late.

3) Eat well

The night before the race eat a healthy dinner, but keep it quite light and ‘safe’-basically try and avoid something you are not used to as you don’t want to have any gastrointestinal distress the next day.  By all means celebrate doing the run by going for a pizza or curry afterwards but avoid stodgy foods like that the night before.

On the day of the race make sure you have eaten at least one hour prior to the race.  Again, keep it safe and avoid anything spicy or fatty, but look for something high in carbohydrates.  If it is a morning run then have a light breakfast, for a run later on in the day, a light pasta salad is a good option, as is  fresh fruit, oatmeal, granola bars and yoghurt. A southern fried chicken however is not.

4) Hydrate yourself

This is very important as you do not want to feel dehydrated during the run, however, it is one of those things many forget.  Before the race, drink plenty of water, try to drink about 3-6 glasses of water or fruit juice (avoid tea/ coffee or fizzy drinks as the caffeine will make you feel dehydrated in the long run). If you can carry it, try and take a water bottle for the run.  Running shops sell (for a reasonable price) many different types of bottles designed to be carried whilst running and belts to hold them in, so it is not like you have to lug around anything unwieldy.

5) Warm up exercises

Have a leisurely jog a couple of hours before the run just to loosen yourself up (or failing that, a steady stroll around the block). Once you are on the starting line keep yourself active by jogging on the spot or hopping from foot to foot. Basically, do not let yourself cool down whilst the officials are getting everyone together and explaining the rules.  Make sure you get to the starting line early as there will be others doing warm up exercises (so you don’t have to feel silly doing it by yourself).

6) Dress for the part

Don’t use this as an opportunity to try something new, dress in whatever you feel comfortable in and would usually run in.  Light cotton t shirt, athletic shorts and comfortable running shoes/trainers are the preferred options.  Fancy dress is highly welcome and by all means ‘dress to impress’ but make sure your costume is practical enough to run in, wont weigh you down and doesn’t have bits which will keep falling off or hitting you in your face (so bare that in mind when you go wig shopping).  Sure, a pantomime horse costume will attract quite a bit of attention but just remember that you have to be in it for the duration.

7) Have fun

This is the most important thing. This is a run to raise money and awareness for a worthy charity, it is  good exercise and a day out, there will be people of all abilities running and there is no obligation to run it in a certain time.  It is not a race and there is no pressure to compete, so pace yourself and if you are feeling any discomfort then slow down and walk if you need to.  Sure, there will be those who do the run in a super hero speed but there is twice as many who run it in at a more leisurely pace, so do not worry about being left out.

Finally, if you haven’t done already please sign up to follow us on Twitter so that you can receive updates in the days leading up to the run and  read other stories about it at #runNTU

By Rob Johnstone (Development Services Assistant)

4 comments on “runNTU – Top tips

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    • Sue Dewey

      Hi – sorry for the ‘satellite delay’ in replying – quite new to blogging myself actually and so my initial advice would be – write from the heart, don’t try too hard to be witty and insightful, just write about what you know and feel. Thanks for the feedback re the pictures… I will take advice from the clever people here at NTU who know more than I do about the technical issues. My thing is fundraising!

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