Delhi Half Marathon: Get ready for race day
The realization that the race is just five days away can be pretty nerve-wracking. Add to this the stress about running when air quality is very poor. If you decide not to run this Sunday, that’s fine. If you do run, please wear a mask, don’t exert yourself too much, and do not look for your personal best times. Here are some last-minute tips to help you get to the finish line of the Delhi Half Marathon.
Food and hydration are very important for running performance, but there are a lot of misconceptions out there. For starters, over the last three decades or more, there has been talk about carbohydrate-loading to build up to the race. Many runners who buy into that idea eat a pasta dinner the evening before the race. Not a smart idea. Eat well, but don’t overload yourself with carbohydrates. You’ll feel bloated, and while carbs burn quickly and provide energy, that spike in blood sugar also leads to a quick drop, leaving you feeling suddenly lethargic. For the same reason, avoid eating too much sugar as well.
Don’t skip meals over the next few days. Avoid anything deep-fried and stick to small, frequent meals. Keep your protein and fat intake higher than normal and have your dinner at least 2-3 hours before you sleep to facilitate digestion. If possible, go for a 10- to 15-minute walk post dinner.
You may want to set up a race-day carpool with other friends who are running; given all the roadblocks and diversions, this will make getting to the venue a little easier.
Day before the race
The evening before the race, put your clothes for the race, along with your bib number, aside so that you don’t have to run around looking for things like pins early in the morning. To save time, pin your bib number to your T-shirt the night before. Ensure you have a Vaseline tub handy; you’ll need to coat your nipples, armpits, toes and groin area before the race.
Also, prepare a bag for a change of clothes after the race. Pack a towel, underwear, shorts, T-shirt, and keep it in your car. In case you need to take an autorickshaw, taxi or Metro back, make sure you have some money on you. Opt for running gear in which you can safely tuck in some cash and your phone . Try to go to sleep by 9-10pm so that you are well rested. Even if you are not sleepy, lie down.
On race day
Ensure you wake up at least an hour to an hour-and-a-half before you have to leave for the race. You may need to go to the bathroom a few times. Go as many times as you need to because if you hold it in, and need to go after you’ve left home, it will ruin your run.
While calculating what time to leave for the race, be sure to factor in traffic. Queuing up at the venue, depositing your bag and walking to the point where people assemble for the race can take up to 30 minutes, if not more.
Before the race, make sure you have a small bottle of water with you and have a sip or two. Even if you don’t want to use the washroom, visit it. For warm-up, skip and hop in the same area for 30-60 seconds. Don’t do zumba or dance moves before the run—it will drain you of energy.
Aid stations will be set up at every 2km over the marathon course; if it’s your first race, I would recommend stopping at every station and walking for 30-60 seconds to recover. If you’re not carrying a water bottle, pick one up at the aid station and take a sip or two of water to keep your mouth and throat moist. The stress of running a major race can leave your mouth dry. Be sure not to gulp the whole bottle down.
An important point: Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. It may be a competition, but you’re there to stay the distance. So stick to what you have practised and you’ll be good.
After you have picked up your medal, change out of your sweaty clothes. Eat something that is high in protein and fat content soon after and keep moving or walking so that you don’t cramp suddenly.
After the run, congratulate yourself on a job well done. And spread this newfound love of running amongst family and friends too.
This is the last in an eight-part series to motivate people to take up running in the correct way. For the complete series, visit www.livemint.com/runthecorrectway
Rajat Chauhan is sports exercise and musculoskeletal medicine physician and race director of La Ultra—The High held in Ladakh. He has authored The Pain Handbook: A Non-Surgical Way To Managing Back, Neck And Knee Pain.