Monday, June 16, 2014

Greetings, people. For the benefit of all you fellow runners out there, I thought I'd take a few minutes out of my World Cup-watching schedule to share some things I learned from my first 10k run last month. If you are signed up to do a run in the next few months, I hope you will take a few minutes out of your World Cup-watching schedule to read them. 

While these aren't intended to be 'pro tips', and are therefore unlikely to have any significant impact on your overall performance, the hope is that they will help make your first run a more enjoyable experience. I am also hoping that by putting these in writing a month before my next run, I will be more likely to bear them in mind myself. If you are someone who has never tried running before, maybe this will even encourage you to give it a try. 

For more practical advice, you are strongly urged to read articles and blogs by people who actually know what they are talking about. Also, always consult your race pack. 

So, here they are, in no particular order: 

You may struggle to get to sleep the night before your first run, but force yourself to do so. All the preparation that's gone beforehand will come to nothing if you're not well rested. 

At the start line, with just a few minutes to go before the run begins, most people find themselves being swept up by a strange sense of euphoria and sudden feelings of meaning and purpose. As a result, many are happy to have a chat or at least wish you good luck for the challenge you are about to collectively undertake. Some, however, will be staring very intently either at their shoes or far into the distance. These people are either trying to get themselves into their 'zone' by mapping out every inch of the track as part of their latest assault on their Personal Best, or they are wondering what they did with their house keys. Either way, it's best not to talk to them. 

Along the route, you may notice paramedic/ first-aid staff with their arms outstretched and with some sort of white substance on their palm. You may think it is some sort of refreshing gel, but it is in fact paraffin to prevent chafing. If you would like to amuse yourself buy attempting to grab some of this while running past, by all means do so. Be aware, though, that rubbing this all over your arms and body will make you resemble an otter in the middle of an oil slick. On the plus side, you may not need to use any sort of cream on your body for weeks after the race. Seriously, you can moisturise rhinoceroses with that stuff. 

Do not, under any circumstances, give in to the temptation to spit while running. 

Smile and wave at, or at the very least acknowledge with a nod of the head, people who cheer specifically for you. The only time you are exempt from doing this if you are in the leading pack of runners and on track for a new world record, and even then it's a little bit rude. 

When you start to show the first visible signs of fatigue (involuntarily clutching at your sides, shoulders dropping, knees buckling) fellow runners may come up from behind and yell something motivational at you. This is normal. Try not to panic. 

Constantly try to envision the finish line as being just 20-30 metres away. This way, the crushing disappointment you feel when you realise that it is not in fact 20-30 metres away will hopefully be countered by the fact that you are now 20-30 metres closer to the actual finish. Repeat this throughout the run. Your brain will hate you for mercilessly messing with it, but your body will be grateful in the end. 

Pouring water down your head is good. Drinking some of it before pouring it down your head is even better. 

Finally, for the last tip (this may be the most obvious, but might be the most important): Whether you are running for charity or just for fun, enjoy every step of the run. It is likely that while you are running, all manner of thoughts will waft in and out of your mind. Reflect on them; allow the miracle of your existence to wash over you like the cool breeze blowing across your face. Relish the feeling of euphoria when you catch your first glimpse of the finish line, bearing in mind that while the line signals the end of the race, it is also the point at which real life resumes. That is where you must resolve to re-focus your energy, so that in the final reckoning you can say, like the Apostle Paul, 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.' 

That, regardless of the size of your finisher's medal, is the greatest prize of all.


1 comment:

Susan G said...

He he.... still not convinced me to run the good race. Quite happy to watch you run the race and cheer you from the sidelines, since you're doing such a good job of it! Keep it up,
the running, pondering, blogging - all of it!!