Tips For Pinoys Running The Singapore/Macau Marathon
1) Think Positive—After training for so many months, you are going to Singapore for the sole purpose of running the 2008 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon and your goal is to finish it. Whether it is your first marathon or not, you must come home with you the bragging rights that you have finished the marathon distance, an international marathon race at that. You should think as a “warrior” who have trained; honed his skills; developed a strategy; and have the desire to win the battle. Remember, the enemy here is yourself and the route. Don’t be pressured by the other runners as they might ruin your established and planned strategy and your desire to finish the race..
2) Stick to Your Race Strategy—If you have trained in your long steady runs for a faster first half than the last half of the full distance you ran, then you are doing a “positive-split” and if you are comfortable doing this kind of strategy, then do it. However, if you are slow starter with a slow pace on the first half and you get faster on the last half of the distance, then go for a “negative-split”. But mostly, I recommend the even-pace strategy basing from my past experience running the marathon distance. Knowing your training “average pace”, you have to stick to such pace, plus or minus 15-30 seconds. The other variation of the even-pace strategy is to be able to divide the marathon distance into segments like every 10 kilometers—making the distance into 4 segments with every segment being designated with a time to finish it. For example, if you are running an average pace of 5:30 mins/km, you should be able to reach the 10-K mark within 55 minutes or less; you should be able to reach the 20-K mark within 1:50:00 hrs, and so forth up to the 40-K mark. If you want to divide the marathon distance to 5K segments, you can do it, too! But be sure to to reach such distance within the time you have planned.
3) Stick to your training “routine”—You should be able to stick to your training and pre-race “routine” here in the Philippines. We will start with your running kit/apparel. Be sure that you had been using your running kit (shorts, singlet, running shoes, sunglasses, Ipod, visor/cap, etc) during your training and previous road races. Remember, you are going to Singapore to run & finish the marathon, not as a Fashion Model and/or Elite Runner sponsored by a Shoe & Sports Apparel Corporation! It should be a part of your morning pre-race routine to have your BM (Bowel Movement). Drink something “hot”—coffee, tea, milk, or chocolate so that your digestive system will force your waste to come out! I’ve been doing this during my entire life where a BM done once I wake up gives me a “non-stress” day ahead of me. After taking your crap, take a shower to make you cooler and more relaxed. Wear your running kit making sure to put/apply petroleum jelly or Body Glide on your groin area and upper arms (& nipples, for men) where chafings usually occur. If you are staying in a Hotel with a free breakfast, forget your buffet breakfast and stick to your “pre-race routine” or else you will have some problems along the way. You will have the time to eat a lot after the race. This is what I eat for breakfast before marathon races. I usually eat one serving pack of instant Quaker Oatmeal mixed with hot water; one boiled banana or ripe banana; one hard-boiled egg with little salt; and one cup of Ensure. Don’t forget to drink water while on your way to the Starting Area.
4) Stay “light”—Wear a running kit that is light—light shoes & socks (that is your training or racing shoes & socks you had been using in past road races!) and light shorts & singlet. Leave your water belt behind. You are running in a “First World” country and I am sure the water stations are filled with “clean” water and sports drinks! I suggest you leave also your Ipod, cellphone, and camera in your room or car. These are additional weights to your body while running.
5) Sports Gel & Sports Bar—With my past experience in ultramarathon, marathon and trail running, I value the presence of sports gel or “GU” and/or sports bar inside my shorts’ pocket. My son and daughter, John & Jovelle, taught me a technique on how to carry at least four (4) pieces of “GU” while running. You can follow the following steps—(1) Punch a hole on the uppermost part of the packet, (2) Insert or tie a rubber band on the hole, and then (3) Insert your hand on the rubber band with the band staying on your wrist. The tied “GU” should either be dangling on your wrist but I suggest you should hold the “GU” with the palm of your hand while running. If you want to drink water, just release the “GU” from your hands and let it dangle on your wrist while you are holding your drinking cup. I usually take in one (1) “GU” (my first) at least 10 minutes before the start. I take my 2nd GU at the 11-K mark; my 3rd GU at the 22-K mark; and my last at the 32-K mark. Eat the only Power Bar on your shorts’ pocket after taking in your last GU. These will give you the much-needed strength on your last 10K of the race. (Note: If you have time, buy “ROCTANE” by GU. It gives more energy than the ordinary GU as this is designed for ultramarathoners. It has more caffeine in it and it costs more!!!)
6) Water & Sports Drinks—Take a sip or two of water in every water station (without walking while drinking). You should be able to slow down your pace (but still running) when you pick up your water cup and be able to drink the water while running. I know that the Singapore Marathon will have a very long table where water and sports drinks will be available. If the water cup is being handed to you by the volunteers, it would be better to make a signal (look into the eyes of the volunteer) and lift your arm/hand towards the cup. Before reaching the 30-K mark, you should start drinking Gatorade or any sports drinks for the replacement of your electrolytes. Remember, take a sip or two of water in every water station along the route.
7) Muscle Cramps—If you feel you have the tendency to have muscle cramps on your legs, slow down with your pace and keep on running in a relax manner. If you have muscle cramps during the race, that means you lack the mileage in your training and distance for your long steady runs. It also means that there is tightness in your leg muscles. Make sure that you had your massage at least 2 days before the marathon race. If you could have experienced running at least 42K in your long steady runs or “runabouts” in your marathon preparations, you could have determined or tested if you have the tendency to have muscle cramps. Elite runners are silent and keep this their “secret”—they run at least 50K during their long steady runs! As I said, nobody is preventing you from running the marathon distance during your long runs. “Think out of the box” or better yet, “remove the box” entirely!
8) “Speed Training” Tips—After two weeks of speed training with the coaches of Team Bald Runner, the voice of Coach Salazar keeps on reminding me his tips which I haven’t encountered in running books and magazines and these are very basic. His constant reminders are—“run along a straight line” ( if a runner gains at least one inch every stride if he/she runs a straight line and if one stride is equivalent to one meter; a runner, at least, gains a distance of 42,165 inches for the whole marathon distance which is equivalent to 1,071 meters, that’s one kilometer, making you faster by more than 5 minutes; stay “light” on your footstrike using your midfoot ( you should be able to minimize the “heavy” sound of your footstrike with the ground while landing on your midfoot); establish and maintain a cadence of your stride ( I usually count 1-20 or up to 50, repeatedly, every 4 steps or simply play in your mind repeatedly, the words “New PR” or “Sub-4 Finish” as your running mantra; and take a direct route on curves and winding roads (your eyes should be set towards the shortest route along the road). There are other “reminders” or terms from Coach Salazar which could be explained better by him like “clawing”, “pawing”, “volting”, “braking action”, and others if you decide to attend our speed training.
9) Always look forward and maintain a relaxed running form—After running 20-25 kms, I have the tendency to experience some muscle cramps on my core muscles and legs if I try to turn my body/head to look on the runners beside me or on my back who are tailing me. During the Pasig River Heritage Marathon last February 2008, I experienced this situation as I turned my body looking at runners beside me and those on my back. It is hard to visualize how the body would be seen with the body moving forward while my upper torso would be turning to the right or left or even a more than 90 degree-angle turn towards the back while running. If I do these unnecessary movements, muscle cramps would occur. Since then, I see to it that I run without turning my body or my head and maintain a straight-look ahead of me.
To all the runners participating the Singapore Marathon and Macau Marathon, good luck and have a safe trip. I might not be able to watch you on the TV or monitor the webcast of this event on the Internet but I wish you a nice, enjoyable and memorable international marathon race. On this day, I might not be watching the DL Hoya-Pacquioa Fight but I will try to find out if NHK of TV Japan will be featuring a live telecast of the Fukuoka Marathon. By the way, if you have a chance to shop, buy your copy of the book, “Run Faster” by Brad Hudson.