*First time races*
Running a race can be an intimidating experience. There are some logistics to consider like where it starts, where it finishes, the timing, the course, etc. There are loads of people to contend with including runners, volunteers and spectators. There are rules to consider, both official and unwritten. Not to mention that you have to do something that is physically and mentally really hard. Especially for beginners running a race can make one feel anxious, nervous and possibly even afraid. Pre race nerves are experienced by almost every runner so know you are not alone. There is also tremendous value in acknowledging those nerves and reframing them as excitement and anticipation for what you are about to do. Before a race get a good night’s sleep. Set an alarm and get up early so you don’t feel rushed on race morning. Have your running gear, shoes and accessories all laid out and ready to go. Follow a pre-run routine that you’ve used before and that works for you. Eat the same foods for breakfast. Wear gear you’ve tried and tested. Do the same stretches or warm-up. The best advice you can possibly take is try nothing new on race day! Aim to arrive early so you don’t feel rushed. Become familiar with key locations such as the start and finish line. Know the schedule and create a timeline. When does the race start and how long will it take you to line up/get into your corral? Working backward, give yourself enough time to use the toilets (there is always a queue), warm-up properly and anything else you know you need to do. Once you join the rest of the runners try to focus on yourself, on how you’re feeling and use a variety of calming and meditative exercises/thoughts to think about your upcoming run. Line up according to ability. The faster you are, the closer you should be to the start line. In larger races with hundreds of participants, events often use corrals to separate runners based on their expected finish times. If you don’t know where you should be, look for pacer or ask a fellow runner for guidance. For the safety of others, be sure to line up appropriately as not to obstruct faster runners. Hopefully you have some idea of how you plan to run your race. How long it will take, what pace you’ll run at, if/how often you’ll hydrate and/or consume fuel. Having a race plan is always a good idea and better still, have a backup plan in the event that weather conditions are not ideal. Most races have aid stations along the course. Depending on the length of the race or whether you carry your own plan to use these to stay hydrated and fueled. Know your desired pace and do your best to stick to it. Avoid going out too fast at the start it's the most common mistake made by all runners in a race and if anything aim to start slower than you need to and plan to pick up the pace as the race goes on. Once you cross the finish line it’s important you keep moving forward to avoid obstructing those behind you. Take a few minutes to collect yourself catch your breath and try to take a moment to truly appreciate the moment. Try to drink and eat something to kick start your recovery process. If you’re not feeling well seek out a race official or volunteer who can help you get some medical attention. Once you’re starting to feel yourself again proceed to meet your friends and family and enjoy the entertainment the post-race festivities. Congratulations!!!.
Here's a look at some of our club members memories of their first ever races. Ann Cummins takes us back to June 2008 for the Bilboa 10k which she described as the dreaded scene of the crime against running. In fact Charles Dickens, if he had been at the finish line might have said “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. It was Ann's first time and times didn’t weight heavily on the mind. Having only started running just 4 months prior to this day, Tom and Patricia advice ran wildly around Ann's mind. Embarking on this new challenge with some fear, a splash of excitement and a small bottle of water in hand in case of collapsed from drought. Ann describes feeling like Sonya O’Sullivan after going through the first 5k, thinking she'd puke up a lung at 8k but had elation when crossing the elusive finish line she knew this was definitely something she would repeat. The sense of achievement was immense, the fact of having actually having ran 10k and was not flat out like a badger on a bypass simply amazed Ann, it made her realise that she could achieve anything she put her mind to and filled her with a new found confidence that would go on to help Ann grow as a person and push boundaries that she never thought of before. This is running and also being part of a Club, Mooreabbey Milers, a tribe if you will, who encourage and are kind, the best kind states Ann. Patricia Ryan reminisces of a time before Mooreabbey Milers being ever involved in the local community
Tom and Patricia Blackburn organised a 5 mile in conjunction with the Galbally Garden Fete. Patricia had done a few training sessions with the Blackburns and didn't really know what she had let herself in for taking on that route. The route is what turned out to be a club favourite in times to come. Starting out the Tipperary road being faced with what looks like a handy hill is quiet deceiving. Patricia tells me she found it really tough but of course she got that runners high, and remembers weirdly really enjoying it. Hitting the finishing line in the field and being congratulated by Tom and hearing 'you did well for someone with very little training' we can truly say Patricia hasn't looked back since. On that same 5 mile route running the opposite way 30 years earlier was Willie O'Donoghue who was taking part in the local GAA fun run early new year. He tells how a group of young and old GAA players gathered at the start line with trepidation as none of them had competed in an adventure like this before. Before long they were on their way out of the village onto the Garryspillane road. About a half mile out there was only 2 people left competing for the top spot in the race a man from Clonmel called Billy Fox and myself explains Willie. Running on passed Deerpark up the hill to what was Quanes farm then down onto flat ground towards Duntryleague we reached the late Joseph Bourke's farm just as he was putting his herd of cattle across the road which unfortunately put a stop to our race for a minute or two, as the last cow crossed the battle recommenced. We headed on down for the Tipperary road turning right at Bennetts cross for Galbally. Willie describes all that was in his mind was how was I going to break this fellow. I figured out I could have a chance if I could bring it down to a 50 yard sprint. As we reached the monument, I went for it sprinting to the finish line which was in the community centre taking the top spot winning by the 2020 magic number 2 meters. Willie has since returned to running and now hold national and international medals.
Our next master is the master of disguise. This person tells me not of their first race but their first big race experience. This person can be quoted saying "I never thought I would be that person". Each year this person would watch this big event and could never see themselves doing an event like it. "Its too far, your mad, think of the injuries and even the commitment" were just a handful of comments that the runner would hear about the event. In turn on the opposite hand they would hear about the Dublin crowds, the craic and excitement along with all the encouragement along the way as you get closer to the finish line euphoria that was felt. This runner noted it was a scratch that constantly wanted to be itched! So with all that in mind they decided to register and they are delighted to say they completed their first ever marathon which turned out to be the ....th edition of the Dublin city marathon. An old hand with milage clocked up to go around the world several times over is our very own Padraigin Riggs' her first experience of competitive racing was only a short time ago in 2011 at the Larne Half Marathon in Co.Antrim.
Padraigin recalls being nervous but it being exhilarating as the cold crisp wind cut across the coast in late spring. Having never done this before Padraigin was convinced she was losing sensation in one knee but she remembers that triumphant feeling having gotten to the end.
Our 'most improved' all star Gerard Hanley has only been a feature with the club for the last four years so his first race impressions are realitivy new. Not knowing the who's who of racing at his first road race in Bruff Gerard lined up with Declan Moore and took off with him. After 2 Miles and only half way to home Gerard was hoping to see finish line sooner than what he did. Gerard's first trail was only a stones through from home in Lisvernane. For those who don't know the route the first 2km is all uphill. Gerard is always up for a chat and finds it gets you through the race. He told me of this night when there was a few of them together and he was chatting away when the lads said " will you stop talking or none off us get up that hill". Our final contributer took part in a 'Rememberance Sunday' 5km. The memories comes flooding back having got all the advice in the world, but as they stood on the start line it all got erased from memory. Legs were like jelly and head was realing wondering could this really be completed when suddenly a faint whistle sounded. Off over vale and hills and 35 minutes later that faithful finish line appeared having completed this persons first ever 5k, and they have gone on to compete in 10k s and 10 miles.
More From The Main Man Tom
This week I want to look at stretches and exercises, and some simple injury prevention.
Stretches: We always start a training session with warm up stretches and some exercises. I generally stretch the major muscle groups that are used in the act of running and I focus on the legs mainly, but for the sake of a few minutes more if you like. Why not do a whole body set of stretches. To be fair to explain how to do each stretch could take a bit of time so I suggest you check it out on line where you can see each one done properly and you can copy it. The leg muscles to start with the calve muscles, the quads and hamstrings the gluts and hip flexors. The back, shoulders, neck and arms. Stretches are very important and some muscles can give a bit of grief when you start an exercise programme. The two main reasons for muscle pain is that the muscle isn’t strong enough for the work it is been given but they will soon adapt. The second is that the muscle isn’t been properly extended during the exercise and knots may build up on it, if you rub the muscle or roll it out and stretch it you could guard against an injury happening. The two are closely connected, the stretch can help here, but be careful not to over stretch and as you stretch breathe into it, the stretch should held for up to a minute, but if it is very sore and the pain is not easing up you could try icing the muscle or rubbing some muscle lotion like Tiger balm into it. If none of this is sorting it you may need to see a professional. A good quality physio should be able to sort you out.
Exercises: We normally do plyometric exercises before a session, this usually takes about 5 minutes. It is a great way to make sure that all the muscles are warmed up and we will usually do a couple of sets as some people start to loosen out. You may find if you have a niggle, that first time around it may catch you but on the second set it may have eased up. They are very effective and can be a great tool in finding weaknesses in your body. If you like a particular exercise and can do it with ease that’s great but the one you find particularly difficult is probably the one you should be practicing more as this is the one which will improve you more. To start doing plyomrtric exercises mark out about 30 meters on flat clean ground. Start with simple exercises like high knees. Try to get the knees high keep a spring in your step keep your arms in rhythm with your legs and always keep good posture. If you can’t keep going on any of the exercises for the 30 meters don’t worry about it do good quality for as long as you can and promise yourself that you will get to the end by the end of the week. At the end of 30 meters, turn and heal flicks on the way back try to keep bouncing. Do skips, hoping on one leg in one direction, hop on the other leg on the way back. There are loads of variations, running sideways, going sideways crossing over your legs bounding, striding and straight legs. Remember if you do an exercise on your left side do it on the right side as well balance and posture.
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