The Sydney Running Festival is back again this year, offering its trademark mix of courses around the city’s most iconic landmarks. Both the full and half marathon courses are faster and flatter this year, meaning 2017 is your best shot yet at a personal best. We’ve got a run down on how to maximise your chances of a good run, covering everything from race prep to where to stay and how to ensure a good recovery.
Whether you’re running the family friendly 3.5k or committing to the full 42.2k marathon, good preparation is important. Ideally, you’ll start pounding the pavement around four months before the race, heading out 3 – 5 times per week. Start with shorter distances and build up slowly to prevent injury and increase your stamina. You should also include some speedwork or tempo runs to test your body’s limits and help you work out your optimal pace for the race. Including rest days is imperative and adding some non-running activities to your schedule is also encouraged to increase overall fitness, aid recovery and balance your body. Blackmores has a free training program to help you build up the event, which includes a weekly schedule and regular training tips to keep you motivated. Download it here.
Nutrition is just as important as movement when it comes to longer runs, particularly the half or full marathon. Where possible, eat a high-carb, low-fibre meal around an hour before any long training run and test out different mid-race nutrition to see how your body responds. Sports drinks, energy gels and dried fruit are all good options as they’ll help keep your blood sugar and energy levels topped up. Every body is different of course, so the more you can trial race nutrition in your training, the better prepared you’ll be for the big day. The night before the race remember to indulge in the best task of long distance running: carb loading.
If you’re not a Sydney local – and many of the 35,000 odd participants aren’t – you’ll need a place to stay for the festival. Location is key: with the start and finish line on different sides of the Harbour Bridge and many road closures in action on the day, it’s important to choose wisely. Adina Apartment Hotel Town Hall is perfectly located just across the road from Town Hall station, where you can catch the train to the start line at Milson’s Point. Public transport is free for competitors on the day so this is your best plan of arrival: save money, avoid road closures and get there quickly. All races (except for the 3.5k family run, which finishes just down the road in the Botanic Gardens) finish at the Sydney Opera House this year, meaning a stay in the city centre is ideal for tired legs or for legs that may have had one too many post-finish celebratory beers.
The other big draw cards of serviced apartment style accommodation like that on offer at Adina Town Hall are that you can book a space that easily accommodates 4 to 6 people rather than the standard two in a hotel room; you have your own fully equipped kitchen, perfect for pre and post-race meals; you also have a laundry for washing sweaty clothes; and most of the rooms have baths, perfect for recovery soaks. Wanting to book a room for your running club? Check out our Sydney Running Festival offers here.
Once the race is over, you’ll be feeling all sorts of things. Proud of your achievement, buzzing from the big event atmosphere, thirsty, hungry and a little sore. The most important thing to do is rehydrate, preferably with a mix of water and sports drinks to help replenish your body’s vitamins and sugars. Eating is also important, particularly after a longer run when your energy stores will be largely depleted. Good sources of protein and carbohydrates are key, so opt for a hearty burger or some salmon sushi. Bananas are also a good option when you’re still on the go. Combat those sore muscles with a short, gentle walk and some nice long stretches immediately after the race and try a warm bath and gentle massage the following day. Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the feeling of crossing that finish line! Regardless of the distance you ran or the time you took, finishing a race is something worth celebrating.