Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) is one of Asia’s most prestigious marathons and is Singapore’s most iconic running event. This year, for the first time, the organisers are introducing an Official Warm Up race to help runners in their preparation.
To help you make the most of this opportunity we’re going to walk you through some of the most important things you need to consider and apply during this Warm Up Race.
Why are warm up races important?
Warm up races - or secondary races as we call them at Coached - are a great tool in your preparation for a number of reasons. They allow you to ...
- Make your silly mistakes in a race that is not important, so you don’t make them when it matters.
- Practice your race day routine and 'dial in' the timings and details.
- Familiarise yourself with the race day environment.
- Build confidence through preparation.
Treat this race like a dress rehearsal
Warm up races are the time to go through the motions and practice your race day routine and strategies. At the end, you will know what worked and what didn’t and you can make changes prior to SCMS that will improve your chances of success there.
Food and meal timing. Eat the same meal you plan to eat prior to SCMS on 4 December. Ideally you should eat 2 - 3 hours prior to the start so you have time to digest your food. See how your body responds to the food and timing and make changes for SCMS if you felt bloated or sick in the Warm Up Race.
Fuelling. Warm up races are the perfect place to practice your race day nutrition strategy. Trial the types of drinks and gels you wish to use along with the frequency and amounts. What works for you in training often won't work as well under race conditions so secondary races are a great place to test your strategy under race conditions. If things don’t work as planned, you learn from this and make adjustments prior to SCMS so that hopefully things will go to plan when it matters more.
Gear. Runners often buy new gear and use it for the first time on race day. This is a big mistake and can lead to many controllable, yet uncomfortable things like chafing, bloody nipples (ouch), blisters and the like. Buy any new gear that you need for SCMS early and use your training and the Warm Up Race to test that everything fits as it should and will not cause any unnecessary pains that will hamper your performance.
Planning. Have all your gear organised, packed and ready to go the night before. Work from a checklist and cross off each item as you pack it into your bag to ensure you are not missing anything crucial. Plan how you’re going to get to the race venue and where the bag deposits will be. Be mindful of road closures around the Sports Hub and understand that the crowds could significantly slow you down, so allow plenty of time to make your way to the start line.
Smart race execution maximises fitness
When it comes to racing, you have either done the training and are prepared or you haven’t. It’s really that simple. In either case, the goal of racing is to express the fitness (good or bad) you have as best as you can. When you do this, the outcome (timing) will be the best possible given the circumstances and you can feel proud of your effort.
To help you express your fitness in the optimal way, there are 3 main things you need to do ...
Control your effort. Most runners start a race much too fast hoping to ‘bank time’ for later in the race. This is a terrible strategy that will lead to a less than optimal result - especially in a climate like Singapore where the temperature is going to rise as time goes by.
When you start too fast, you burn your fuel, accumulate lactate and fatigue your muscles at too high a rate. The net result is a significant slowing of pace over time.
Instead, the goal should be to build your effort across the race.
Manage your energy. When you run long distances the body burns fuel at a higher rate than it can replace it. The goal of a race nutrition strategy is to limit your losses as best as you can so that you can continue to move forward at a good pace as the distance passes and fatigue sets in.
This step works hand in hand with managing your effort because if you run too fast in the beginning, you burn your fuel at too high a rate and you will suffer. By starting at a slower pace in the beginning, you’re able to focus on your fuelling and get in much needed calories. The body does not have a good ability to absorb these carbohydrates while running and as such, the best time to take them in is early in the race when your pace is lower, the weather is cooler and your body is generally under less stress.
Master your thoughts. From the start of any race we are constantly receiving feedback that can have an impact on the state of our thoughts. Runners passing us, a blister on a toe, thirst, tired legs, not being able to hold onto our goal pace etc.
Successful runners know that the best way to manage their thoughts and to keep in a positive frame of mind even when things may not be going to plan, is to focus on the process of running. How’s my form and my breathing? Am I drinking enough and getting in my calories? Is my effort appropriate for this point in the race? Can I maintain it?
The mind can only think of one thing at a time so my using our energy to think process thoughts, we slow the chances of letting the negative self talk creep and get the better of us.
How to know if you executed a smart race
The second half of the race should be as fast or slightly faster than the first half. If you have been able to do this, it's a sign that you controlled your effort, managed your fuel and mastered your thoughts to push through to a good result.
Remember, racing is a skill and you’ll get better at executing a smart race the more you practice so pick your secondary races carefully and make your ‘A’ race count.
If you're running the SCMS or the Warm Up race and found this useful, please share it with your friends and help them run to maximise their fitness on race day.