Exactly 1 week prior to my first major running race of 2016 (21 Km 2XU Compression Run, Singapore), I did a long run. I woke-up extra early last Saturday morning, ate a banana, 1 energy gel, and drank cupfuls of water, then started my work-out, wearing the same clothes (tri-shorts, singlet, sun visor) and rubber shoes, and taking the same “gadgets” (Suunto Ambit3 GPS watch, iPhone, hydration belt, Sony MP3 player) that I plan to use come race day. You see, besides increasing my mileage closer to 21 Km, my goal was to simulate the race itself — from taking my early morning meal before the race, to stretching and warm-up, and the long run itself.
I practiced when to take my energy gels, which was approximately every 30-45 minutes of running, followed by 2-3 gulps of electrolyte drink from my flask. I also practiced “recovery” after a hilly path by slowing down my pace, then slowly increasing the pace after I have caught my breath. What was surprising was that I did not experience the same fatigue and muscle cramps when I was training for last year’s Standard Chartered 21 Km marathon. And I can think of only 2 reasons that had contributed to my better training performance. First was that I was better fueled with calories, electrolytes, and water throughout the work-out. I drank before I felt thirsty, which is one of the important things that endurance athletes forget when training and competing. Second was the external environment. I ran extra early (6:30 AM), which meant I would finish at a time when it was not too hot and humid. The April 3rd 2XU Compression Run is scheduled to start from 5:00 AM, so I can expect a cooler and less humid race experience!
Overall, it was a great work-out. I ran 17.5 Km, with an average pace of 5:35 minute per kilometer. If I can sustain the same pace, then I expect to finish the race close to 2 hours, which would be my personal best in hot and humid Singapore!
Anything can happen beyond my control come race day. It might rain. Race may be delayed. The race route and altitude will certainly be different from my training environment. But one thing is for sure. The more I simulate the race during training, the more I will be prepared for the actual competition.
Thanks for reading and remember not only to pursue your passion in sports, but also to make them happen. Learn more how MOBE MTTB can help you. See you soon!