Cape Town - World-renowned exercise physiologist, Dr Ross Tucker, has offered his expert advice to those Two Oceans novices ahead of Easter Saturday's race.
When quizzed by Sport24, Tucker had the following to say in response to those lining up for the race for the very first time as well as what to eat the night before - and the morning of - the race.
Sport24: Any advice for those novices in the Two Oceans Half Marathon who’ll be running 21km for the first time – and haven’t done the required training with mere days to go?
Tucker: If you haven’t done the required training, then you need, more than ever, to prioritise how you “manage” your effort on the day of the race. If you have a goal time in mind, firstly consider revising it if you are well short of what is required for that goal, and secondly, have a very clear plan about how you are going to get there.
For all runners, but especially novices, the temptation in any race is to start to hard and then back yourself to hang on in the second half. That would be a bad idea if you have not done the necessary training, because that’s where the lack of training will really catch up to. And Two Oceans is really unforgiving too, because the first thing you encounter in the second half is a big hill called Southern Cross Drive, so if you have burned your matches in the first half, then you’ll be empty for the more difficult second half!
Therefore, have a plan. Make sure that you are disciplined, and stick to that plan, and make sure that your plan is conservative. Aim to walk before you have to, is a really important mantra. What this is means is that you should not go out with the idea of running for as long as possible before your body says “No way”, and then you’re forced to walk. If that happens, you will have pushed beyond your physiological limits, and then even jogging slowly and walking briskly becomes difficult.
So if you anticipate that walking will be required, then rather walk before it’s forced on you. Have a strategy that says that you’re going to walk for 1 minute every 10 minutes. So run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute. Do that from say 10km, and you’ll find how much fresher you are by 15km, and then you can finish strongly. Trust me, that is going to be best for your overall time and your overall comfort.
And lastly, just enjoy yourself. As a novice, you’re likely starting with the big group, and that much congestion makes running fast quite hard. This is not about time for most of you, and so just enjoy the atmosphere - you’ll never experience a race like it, with huge crowds running with you, and big crowds cheering you on. Don’t let that get to you early, because you’ll end up running too fast, and I’ve warned against that. But try to enjoy the experience and your day out.
Sport24: What would be the ideal meal the night before and breakfast the day of the Old Mutual Two Oceans half and ultra?
Tucker: The one the person is most familiar with, and knows they can eat with greatest safety. You have no idea how many races are ruined by “adventurous” diets, people who think they need to carbo load and so they change their routine to eat something they’re not really familiar with. Or by people who know a certain meal, but maybe it’s seafood, and there’s risk there. I know many who’ve taken that risk, and they end up finding their stomach is running faster than they are!
So something relatively plain, relatively light and easily digestible is good, and something you’ve eaten many times, and know others have eaten many times, without any unwanted gastro issues.
The same goes for the last little top-up meal the morning of the race, by the way. That needs to be very bland, easy to digest, nothing with protein or diary, unless you’re really used to running with a stomach full of yoghurt, or milk, or something similar. Toast, honey, fruit, that kind of thing works, but again, be sure that you’re familiar with it before you put your race on the line for it.
The 2017 Two Oceans Half Marathon will take place on Saturday, April 15, starting at 06:00.
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