Doomsday preppers

So Sunday is the Brighton 10k, my first organised event of the season. A lot of people have been asking what time I hope to do it in. To be honest I really don't know! The last 10k I ran was in July at the end of my first Olympic distance triathlon which was quite a disaster. There was a lot of walking involved and I struggled over the finishing line at a time of 1hr 7 mins for that section of the race. My fastest run at this distance was in the 2010 London Bupa 10k when I finished in 54 mins 47 secs. Having just looked at the results for that I see that some chap by the name of Mo Farah finished in 27 mins 44 secs. I wonder whatever happened to him?

Not Mo Farah

At that time I was new to running, actually quite enjoyed it (can't you tell by the look of unadulterated joy on my face?!) and I think I was quicker than I am now. Having said that I have put in quite a bit of effort into my running since I started this blog and it's very different running in an event than it is in training. Once the adrenaline gets flowing you push yourself considerably harder and having a crowd watching helps to keep you going when you'd rather curl up on the floor and rock yourself in a disturbed manner. In the past I have found a good way to keep yourself going when you get is to pick someone out who is going at a similar pace and try and keep up with them. Also it is quite a flat course (along Brighton sea front) so it will be interesting to see what happens. I am therefore going to go out on a limb and aim for a time of under 57 mins.

So am I going to do anything different this week in terms of training and preparation? First of all I will definitely be staying off the booze this week. I do know that some runners like to have a glass of wine the night before to calm the nerves before a race, arguing that a small amount of alcohol helps to relax you and ensure a good night's sleep, without really doing any harm to your body - providing you haven't been getting sozzled all through the preceding week. I prefer to abstain, particularly because I have rather large wine glasses and because an opened bottle of wine feels like unfinished business. And I don't like to go to bed until the day's business has been resolved.

Sometimes though it can be difficult to get the best night's sleep before a race for a number of reasons. For a start it is difficult to stop thinking about the next day's exertions. You can't help thinking if you've done enough training, you're worried about getting there on time and on top of it all you're stressing about the fact that you can't get to sleep so you're going to be knackered. Sometimes it may be a race away from home so you're in an unfamiliar bed. I find the only way to get round this is to try and get several good night's sleep in the week leading up to it - I hope Baby Trihard is reading this.

One way to try and minimise your worries the night before is to make sure you have everything prepared so all you need to do the morning of the event is to have your breakfast and go. Have your racing kit - your race number, timing chip, trainers, water, pre and post-race snacks- packed and know exactly where you have got to get to and how you are going to get there. For bigger events there may be road closures and you don't want to be running a four minute mile just to get to the start in time. It's a good idea to have a bit of time for a warm up before the race but getting a new personal best when it doesn't count isn't really advisable. Also it is a good idea to have done a bit of a recce of the course so you know where you are running and what the terrain is like (whether it's all on road, if it's flat or hilly). On the morning of the race all you want to be thinking about is actually running.

In terms of training I will be taking things easy this week. I will be going along to the swimming and turbo training sessions at the tri club but I won't be pushing myself too hard and I certainly won't be attending the run session on Saturday. This is what is know as "tapering" where you wind down the intensity of training in the build up to the race. The longer the race the longer the tapering period should be.

Also you want to make sure you have got lots of fuel in the engine so I will also be stuffing my face with pasta on Saturday night. Finally you have to make sure you have timed your toilet breaks to precision before the race. It's tempting to drink lots of water but you don't want to then be hunting for a toilet when you should be running, as I was in Amsterdam.

That also applies for the other type of toilet business. As a very good friend once told me - "You're never going to run your personal best when you've got a bullet jammed in the chamber."

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