Week 7- A Newbie Runner’s Perspective: The Anticipation of Race day

Training’s complete. Just some packing to do this weekend and then I fly to Uganda. Then six days after my arrival, I take on the Uganda Marathon!

So with eight days to go and limited race experience, how am I feeling and how do I plan to successful reach the finish line?

Week 12 & 13- Tapering and Pacing Practice

Since the MK Half Marathon on 4th May, I’ve been tapering to give my body chance to recharge prior to race day, with short runs to keep me ticking over. When I ran my first (and only) marathon last year, I didn’t really taper very well, as I wanted to squeeze in as many runs as possible. However tapering properly this time has seemed to have really made a difference. I feel fresh and have shaken off the niggles that were bothering me during my intensive training.

Image 1 Week 12 and 13

Tapering has meant I’m feeling fresh for the big day on 24th May

Tapering has provided an additional benefit too: it’s provided me with a great opportunity to work on running at a slower pace, closer to the one I want to set in Uganda. I’ve never practiced pacing prior to a race before, so it feels reassuring to have that extra bit of preparation done.

Feelings of Anticipation: Travelling to Uganda

I’m really looking forward to travelling to Uganda in a couple of days. I’ve travelled to various spots in Asia, done a bit of travelling in Europe and visited the states, but I’ve never ventured to Africa. I’ve always wanted to go- who knew the opportunity would come up this year with the Uganda Marathon!?

The prospect of visiting a new country, experiencing the culture, visiting the projects we’re supporting and getting to know the local people and international runners- it’s all SO EXCITING!

And I’m thrilled about the six days leading up to the marathon too (see below). It promises to be an unforgettable experience

An exciting, impressive and packed schedule- put together by the UGM team

An exciting, impressive and packed schedule- put together by the UGM team

Feelings of Anticipation: the Race

Solely focusing on the marathon on 24th May, there are definitely some pre-race nerves. I’ve only run one marathon before on a fresh Autumn day in the UK, and the MK half just over a week ago, so I’ve got limited experience of long distance running. It’s a sharp contrast to the heat, hills, and altitude the Uganda Marathon has to offer.

With never having stepped foot in Africa before, let alone run there, there’s definitely some anticipation from going into the unknown and taking on such a big challenge.

However when I’m not contemplating the fears, there’s plenty of reasons to be positive and optimistic.

Firstly, it’s a marathon in Africa and on the equator, so it’s going to be an astounding experience! And it’s the first ever international marathon in Uganda…EVER! That’s something pretty special to be a part of no matter how long it takes to reach the finish line.

Secondly, training wise, I’ve covered more miles in my preparation for this marathon than any other race before. I’ve beaten the majority of my PBs along the way, practiced in warm layers, practiced pacing and tapered. So while it will be tough, there’s no reason to think I can’t cover 26.2 miles in Masaka.

Thirdly (and most importantly) no matter how tough or tiring it gets, even if I have to walk it to the end, it’s a real privilege to be participating in an event to support others via the fundraising. I’m running the marathon to support a charity/cause which is close to my heart back in the UK, but also supporting a Masaka project too (where the UGM team ensures the funds are used to benefit the project in a long-term, sustainable way). So this is a real opportunity to help make a difference, as well as put in 100% effort in to say a big thank you to everyone who’s supported me and sponsored me over the last few months.

I'll be running the Uganda Marathon to support the Masaka community and a charity back home in the UK

I’ll be running the Uganda Marathon to support the Masaka community and a charity back home in the UK

 

The Game Plan: Hydration, Running Steady and just Hanging in there!

When I ran the Clarendon marathon on the 5th October last year, I had a simple plan: run. I didn’t worry about time or pacing, but to just take it as it comes, slowing down and speeding up as appropriate (which just about worked!).

However with the conditions I’ll be facing in Uganda, I’ve tried to step up my pre-race planning.

Firstly preventing dehydration in the heat will be key.

So the plan is to make full use of each water station and finish the bottle, even if it means sacrificing some time and slowing down to a walking pace to have a drink (which I think will save me time in the long run by keeping me properly hydrated).

Furthermore I’ll be packing some energy gels too. I’ll use one at the half way point and then one or two when it feels like I’m hitting the wall (and my body’s screaming ‘stoppp, I can’t go on anymore!!!’). Hopefully they’ll help fuel me up some more!

Thirdly I’m planning to set a really steady pace, which is slower than what I was running in the UK. I’ve reviewed the paces I was setting during my training over the last few months, and I’ll be adding an extra minute onto my 3/4 marathon pace, so I’m running a kilometre at about a 6 minute pace (ie. approx. 9.5 minute miles).

Reflecting on my pacing during training - I want to set a pace which makes sure I'm putting in 100%, but considers the Ugandan heat & conditions too

Reflecting on my pacing during training – I want to set a pace which makes sure I’m putting in 100%, but considers the Ugandan heat & conditions too

 

 

Finally I’m counting on a mixture of stubbiness, determination and just ‘hanging in there’, plus the support from the Uganda crowds and knowing I’m running for two great causes, to see me through to the finish line.

Sooo…It’s time to head to Uganda!

That’s a newbie runner’s training for the Uganda Marathon complete! There’s some nerves, but overall excitement about the adventure ahead! And that leave’s me with one last thing to say prior to the race…

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

No matter if you’re running the 10K, half or full marathon, experienced runner or a newbie runner like me, all the best of luck, and keep going on 24th May – you’ll reach that finish line  🙂

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