Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Learning From Every Mistake

Races are just training sessions you pay to do.

To take the pressure out of race situations, I've been using them as training sessions. The big day is a mere 12 weeks away so these little races are just an excuse to put my training into action, push myself a little harder than normal and practice nutrition.

There are many reasons you practice things before the big event. Here's a few things I've tried and tested - what works and what doesn't.

Eat at least 2 hours before racing/training
I actually mastered this one a few months ago after the need to sprint to the nearest toilet to relieve a "code brown" 3km into a run. Running causes things to move. Always eat early, and always have a pitstop BEFORE the race starts.

Oats for breakfast
Oats are easy to measure out, easy to stomach, easy to digest and don't sit heavily in my stomach. They're slow release carbohydrates and don't leave me feeling lethargic. You know what doesn't fit that criteria? The banana and almond milk smoothie I left in the bush just after Waione Street Bridge at the 20km mark of the Pelorus Trust Half Marathon. 

Wear clothing that won't chafe
Previous blogs would suggest I should have learned this lesson months ago too. Thanks to the amazing team at Lululemon, I didn't need to stress about this one. These amazing girls kitted me out with shorts, a sports bra and a lightweight singlet perfect for race day. Check me out! The machine next to me is Emma (my coach, race buddy and idol).

Chafe free outfit thanks to Lululemon Athletica Wellington
Hydrate before, during and after
This one I thought I had down pat. Drink when thirsty. Yeah, not quite that simple. 
Playing catch up on thirst isn't the way to go about it. I started the race with some minor dehydration which meant I felt the need to stop at every drink station and top up my already stagnant smoothie with even more liquid. Lesson here is drink plenty the night before, include electrolytes. Drink enough to top up with breakfast (about 500ml) and pace it throughout the race. 

Use food/gels that your stomach can handle
Rule number one. Don't try new things on race day. Especially gels. Gels are basically made from pure sugar and provide a fast carbohydrate top up when fuel is needed. Because they are so rich, always consume them with fluid as they can sometimes cause gastric upset (thats the most PC way I could describe it). They can make me very gassy, or worse. 
Gu gels for me so far have been great. So naturally, I took a Balance gel with me in the half marathon, without water. Tasted great. Let's leave it there. 

Wear Sunscreen
My tan in the above photo is from a bottle. I am naturally a translucent white. Why I didn't wear sunscreen during this beautifully sunny day, I don't know. 

Be aware that race pace is often faster than training pace
I found myself getting frustrated when I couldn't hold my pace under 6min/km in the later stages of the race. I was tired and struggling more the harder I pushed to hold it. It was in a "f*ck this" moment when I slowed to a walking pace that I realised I had been training at around 6.20min/km. Of course my body was going to be struggling! I gave myself a few more steps to slow my heart rate and stretch my calves before I picked my run back up to a 6.10min/km pace and sat there happily, praising my body for what it was going through. 

Have a support crew waiting at the finish line
The last km of this race was agony. My stomach was churning, my calves burning and I felt I had nothing left. Until I saw my Personal Trainer pointing a camera at me. Suddenly I smiled, lifted my feet a little higher, increased my stride and ran the last 500m with Scotty on my heels. His last min encouragement, telling me I still looked strong, was enough to push me over the finish line in 2.09.54. Thanks Scotty!
It's a PB and all things considered I'm pretty happy with the time. 

Approaching the finish line


  1. You and your body are a team just getting to know each other. I am very proud of you both.
    Loads of love,

  2. You are seriously amazing Sammy! I couldn't be more proud of you! Xxx