Things Only Smart Running Marathoners Know About Race Day
By Nina Syahira
August 18, 2014
Photo sourced from © Warrengoldswain | Dreamstime.com - People Running Marathon Photo
Training for marathons like the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon is a lot more than just practising long distance running till race day. Participants need to know the most effective way to train while also taking care of their diet as well as their physical and mental health.
It's very important to be aware of your own body and its full strength so that you can push it to the limits during the marathon without endangering yourself. Most runners would undergo intensive training for marathons in order to get accustomed to the distance required, terrain or even to get a personal best.
Depending on the event itself, each preparation method would differ. The same goes to the type of runner as well. If you're a first-time participant or you can barely pass the 2.4km IPPT station, don't be too ambitious and sign up for a full 42-km distance. There are plenty of marathon events out there that happen all year round. Having improper or inadequate training may harm your health.
Chua Yew Wee (4th from right) and team mates
Photo courtesy of Chua Yew Wee
So with the SSBR & AHM 2014 coming up in just one week, we decided to speak with one of of the past participants who came in 2nd place in the family category. 24-year-old Chua Yew Wee is an avid half-marathoner. The Mechanical Engineering major from National University of Singapore enjoys swimming, cycling, cooking and of course, running! He's currently living in Stockholm, Sweden, on a 1-year entrepreneurship program. Due to this, he'll be participating in the Stockholm Half Marathon and Frankfurt Full Marathon which will be the first time he'll be trying a full marathon. How exciting!
Check out the interview below and find out essential tips on what you should and should not do in the last leg of training as well as on the actual race day itself!
Chua Yew Wee with President of SAFRA Mr Chan Chun Sing at SSBR & AHM 2013
Photo courtesy of Chua Yew Wee
Hi, Yew Wee! You've taken part in many half-marathons before including the SSBR & AHM last year in the family category where you came in 2nd place. We want to know why do you run? Is it hobby or for health?
I started running because I was getting bored of gymming and found that it was just training for aesthetics. I wanted something more challenging and competitive and the most convenient sport to go to is running. You can simply do it anywhere, any time. I guess with that, running became a hobby. Now I am addicted to it.
So when did you start participating in running marathons?
I started participating in running marathons in 2009, before I entered National Service.
Which past race event was your favourite and why?
The AHM 2013 was my most memorable race. It was well organised and my race plan went smoothly. Furthermore, the team which I trained with, NUS Aquathlon, is very supportive and many team members participated. Those who didn’t manage to run had also come down to give their full support.
How did you prepare in the last few weeks leading up to the race day last year?
1 to 2 weeks prior to the race day last year, I started to taper off my intense training. I also make it a point to watch my diet (this is very hard for me because I LOVE FOOD), making sure that I stay fit and healthy.
What about food-wise? How did your diet change from the time you began intense training till race day?
For me, my diet from the time I began intense training till race day didn’t change much. I don’t like to count my calories and I love to eat. So as much as possible, I try to eat healthily by avoiding fried food, simple carbohydrates and food that are high in sugar.
Is that how you eat and train for all marathons? If yes, how did you come up with that strategy? If no, why do you change it?
Yes, that is how I eat and train for all marathons. I wouldn't call it a strategy because that is how I eat when I am not training intensely as well.
What do you normally eat or drink on the day before a marathon?
I succumb to my cravings.
What else do you do to prepare yourself on the day before a marathon? And how much sleep or rest would you usually have?
Two days before the race is my rest day and on the day before the half-marathon, I would do an easy run to get my body warmed up for the race. My coach, David Tay, taught us that the most important rest an athlete needs is to sleep well two nights before the race. Because on the night just before the race, you might get pre-race anxiety and have trouble sleeping.
Should it be encouraged for all runners to do the same?
If you get pre-race jitters and have trouble sleeping the night before, then yes, try to go to bed earlier two nights before so that you can be assured of a good nights rest. If you don’t have trouble with that, then just stick to your normal sleeping routine.
On the actual race day, do you consume anything before the event begins?
On the actual race day, I will wake up 2-3 hours before the race to have my breakfast which usually consists of peanut butter toast and a cup of coffee.
Do you consume anything during the race itself?
For a half-marathon, at the 14 to 15km mark, I take an energy gel to ensure that I can get an additional boost to my energy reserve. A fellow athlete once taught me that when running a long distance race, you should start drinking water as early as the 5km mark. This is so that you don’t get dehydrated during the later part of the race. You shouldn't wait until you are dehydrated before you begin drinking water.
So before the marathon starts, what do you look out for while waiting? Anything important to note that could help you during the race?
I will try to get to the starting line early so as to ensure that I am close to the start rather than being stuck at the back of the crowd of participants.
With SSBR & AHM 2014 coming up very soon, how do you think people should train in these last few weeks? Is it okay to continue with intense training all the way till race day?
Intense training should stop at least a week before the race. All intense training that should have been done, should be completed by then. So just rest your body well and continue on the easy runs to keep your running momentum going.
What advice would you give to runners who are nervous about participating in the SSBR & AHM event for the first time?
It is normal to be nervous if it is your first time running a half-marathon. Expect the adrenaline rush when you are at the starting line. However, do not let it overwhelm you and run at a fast pace. Relax, embrace the energy from the runners and follow your own race plan.
Any final advice for those participating in this year's SSBR & AHM?
All the best to all runners! Push hard and race well for those aiming for a new personal best. For those just aiming to complete and finish the race, enjoy the run and you can reward yourself with a sumptuous meal after!
Thanks for the words of encouragement, Yew Wee! We wish you all the best in your next marathon adventure!
Look out for the release of the SSBR & AHM race packs this coming Friday all the way through the weekend!
Reminisce the earlier memories of the annual event here with these 10 fun facts!
If you'll be participating, we hope to see you there! Check out these great tips if you're an asthmatic runner and read on how to avoid these 5 body stresses during the race here!
Be sure you're eating wisely too. Here are some foods for both vegetarians and meat eaters that's essential for a healthy diet!
Photo used in overview sourced from © Solarseven | Dreamstime.com - Running Team Photo