In just another week, you will be taking on the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon which you have been training so hard for in the past few months. Compared to The Straits Times Run's 18.45km race, the marathon is and will be a whole different ball game altogether.
I shared three race tips before the ST Run - start slow, prepare well, and have a good race etiquette. To build on these, I will now focus on three important factors.
NUTRITION - RUN AT YOUR BEST
The marathon is an incredibly long race, and no matter how fast a runner you are, you will have to top up your energy regularly.
One of the best ways would be to consume sports gels, which resemble baby food and are packed with high glycemic index sugars which are easily digestible. A good rule of thumb would be one packet every 45 to 60 minutes, and accompanied by plain water for hydration.
There are also many brands of sports gels available in the market. Ideally, you should get used to the specific brand of gel which you intend to use on race day to avoid any unforeseen tummy upsets.
MENTAL GAME - RUN WITH FOCUS
Standing at the start line and thinking about the 42.195km that lies ahead may leave you feeling extremely daunted. This is a feeling that even experienced marathoners may not be able to avoid.
Is it advisable to eat a snack while running the race to replenish energy?
I hope to achieve a certain time goal. Is it better to run my own race, or run together with someone?
One way to overcome this is to break down the race into smaller segments, and aim to achieve "mini-goals" for each segment. This forces (helps) you to focus on the process, instead of just the end goal which may seem a bridge too far.
Your "mini-goals" can be as simple as remembering to take a small sip of hydration (drink to the point of thirst, of course) at every water point. As you progress, these goals may be more performance-oriented, such as checking off each 5km within a specific split time.
Another aspect of the mental game is to be prepared for any potential mishaps, so you are not thrown off guard. Instead, turn your focus to the things that are within your control.
For example, there have been instances during my races when I had fumbled with my hydration bottles when grabbing them off the table and ended up dropping them. Instead of being disheartened, I focused on getting hold of my hydration at the next water station.
CAMARADERIE - RUN AS ONE
You may think of running as a team sport - ultimately, everyone on the course shares a common goal of finishing the race safely, and speedily. Just as how teammates in a sports team draw inspiration from one another, you can form impromptu running groups while running the race.
During last year's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon, where I went on to set the Singapore half-marathon record, I was fortunate to have the company of runners who were also gunning for the same time.
We took turns to lead and break the headwind, not unlike cyclists in the Tour de France race. This allowed us to perform better than if we had all been running our races individually.
Our "team" members also changed as the race went on. Some got tired and dropped back, while we caught up with runners who still had the legs under them and started running together as one.
Such team dynamics can help you to achieve your goals, as well as others to meet theirs.
I wish you all the best in the biggest race on Singapore's running calendar - remember to enjoy it and savour every moment.