Seeing the popularity of marathons and people running in them, i have decided to share with you some of the tips on how to survive the 21km Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore based on first hand experience running it for the first time. AND OH, TO GET YOUR RACE TIMING, SCROLL DOWN BELOW FOR THE LINK.
And in light of the death of the 22-year old runner who passed away at the finish line, my deepest condolences goes out to his family and loved ones. In no way shall this “survival guide” should be seen as to mock or ridicule him or any runners who did not complete the run.
Based on my true story/experience, here it goes…
1) CARBO LOAD UP
Yes. Not suit up, but carbo load up. One should be mindful that running 21,000m would require you to burn off 800 to 1200 calories depending on the runner’s weight AND average speed of his run. Thus it is important to consume a good mix of carbohydrates and protein in the meals a day before the run. Yes, you can always snack on the power gels and energy bars as you run but one shouldnt be too reliant on those stuffs. Not only does it restricts your running, the way i see it, if you have had a proper meal the night before the run (please dont consume a 2000 calorie meal for your breakfast), all the thing that your body needs during the run is proper hydration. Which brings me to my next point.
2) “H” TO THE 2 TO THE “O”
No, i’m not referring to a bunch of mermaids above but fact is that 60-70% of a person’s body weight is made up of water. Your cells contain water. Thus if you dont hydrate properly a day prior to the race AND on race day, you are what Sheldon Cooper (from The Big Bang Theory) would call – dehydrating your body. It is therefore important to drink up loads of fluids (water and not alcohol) before the race. Also, water helps to flush away toxins from your body as you go to the bathroom in the morning. Furthermore, drinking isotonic drinks days prior to the event would help “thin” your blood thus giving better circulation of oxygen around your body. By the way, tap water in Singapore is potable so dont give excuses about not being able to buy mineral water around. Cant say the same about NEWater though. Sorry, but im just not a fan. Haha.
3) DON’T BRING A BAG
Yes, this isnt your Bring-your-own-bag day. Its Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore day. As you’ll be running 21km, it would be very uncomfortable running with a bag (no matter how light it may be) for that whole 22965.879 yards. How do i know that? Cause i was carrying mine for SCMS 2011. -_-” The bag would tend to lift the back of your tee/singlet up, rubbing against your lower back causing slight abrasions. Why did i bring my bag in the first place? Well, that brings me to my next point…
4) DONT BE PUNCTUAL, BE EARLY
Super early to be in fact. Somehow Singaporean are funny creatures. In times of purchasing a new iPhone 4S or some latest computer game we can actually queue over night and make ourselves comfortable sitting down on the floor eagerly waiting to get our hands on the goods. But when it comes to depositing our bags on race day, they’ll choose to come at the exact flag off time, when the baggage counter was actually opened 2 hours before. Weird. And because of that, they have to carry their bags with them as they ran the 21km because the security personnel at the baggage deposit area said so. On a more serious note, its because starting pen was about to close in 5min by the time we queued up for over 30min. Anyways, would it be a good excuse if i say that i woke up late? 😦
5) GOOD THINGS COME IN TWOS
There’s a reason why most things in life come in twos – like eyes, legs, parents and 2 $1000 notes…with the exception of Thompson and Thomson in Tintin comics. That being said, i suggest that you get a running buddy/partner to run with you. Running alone with your music stuck to your ears might seem like a good deal, but when it comes to running this 21km, personally it would have been more awesome if i hadnt lost my contact with my running buddy – Agni, before the start of the race. Dont laugh but we got separated because of Point No. 4. Anyways, running with a buddy helps you keep pace and also would be a form of motivation where both of you would cheer on the other half who’s slacking. Helps if he or she is of the opposite sex and is hot/pretty too. Seriously, you wouldnt want to look disappointing do you? ;P
6) MUSE-ZIGGITY ZAG
As mentioned above, listening to music is great when you’re running alone. But also, its the CHOICE of music that plays a great deal in helping you overcome that 6km non-stop stretch of East Coast Highway with no water points (I think. Cause i might have been zoning out). Some personal favourites of mine includes “Gangsters paradise” by Coolio & Tupac, club mixes and OSTs by Hans Zimmer. Some how these kinds of songs have a trance effect on my. I cant feel my pain when i ran. All i feel is the soul uplifted and just wanting to complete the race! 😉
7) HAVE A BREAK, HAVE SOME WATER
Or you could also say stopping to take photos with Transformers too. Personal bests and/or completing the race are important to all, if not many runners. However, one must also understand that not every is born a Kenyan runner. Singaporeans are NOT Kenyans. In fact, Asians are not Kenyans despite living near the equators like the latter. We cannot SPRINT non-stop for the whole of 21,000m! Perhaps im generalizing here, but you get the drift. Take a break between a certain set of distance. Slow down if you feel unwell, uneasy or you start thinking that you have to cross over the red-white barrier to reach the finishing line. No, this isnt the Men’s Health Urbanathlon. Go easy on your body when your body goes hard on you. And trust me, you will enjoy the run. If you feel shy for stopping by the side, heres a tip: Pretend to tie your shoe laces. No one will think anything negative of you. Well, unless you tie them in the middle of the path.
8.) MIND YOUR MANNERS
Like all things around Singapore, there are rules. In running, if you need to slow down and stop or walk, please keep to the side buddy. The last thing you wanna do is to slow down abruptly in the middle or right most lane and fancy getting banged from behind. Sounds wrongly crude but yeah. The last thing anyone needs is a tumble and a ruckus in the middle of the route. You’ll prolly end the 21km right there OR crossing the finish line like an recruit who had to leopard crawl with his shorts. On the tarmac. Cool factor: -10
9) MAKE FRIENDS & CHEER OTHERS ON
Idiot proof, really. As the heading says. Running 21km is a personal thing no doubt, but that doesnt mean that you have to complete it alone or with your buddy ONLY. With other like-minded runners around you, cheering them on lifts the spirit and motivation for the runner, your buddy and even YOU. I dont know how to put it but you gotta try it, it feels good. When you feel good, you’ll finish good. And lastly….
10) S*CK IT UP
No, its not what you think it is. If you’re planning to run 21km or more, please put on a pair of SOCKS. Unless of course, you think its gung-ho and your plan of going minimalist is the key but end up getting blisters at the 8km mark is awesome, then dont wear it. Sockless, 3 blisters and a horrible timing later, i crossed the finish line. Take it from me before your feet take it from the blisters. And dont be a twerp and wear socks for your five fingers shoes. D’oh!
With those 10 tips, i hope you will be better prepared for your upcoming 21km runs in 2012. Till then, Guten Tag! See you all next year…at some race…somewhere…i guess. Remember Point No. 9! 😉
To those who wants to know their results/timings: CLICK HERE!
PHOTO MONTAGE OF THE POST-RACE