This race was a last minute addition to my calendar because it happened to fall on a weekend I was in ‘The Toon’.
The course was…good. I’ll admit, I wasn’t overly excited with the first 3km as we wound around industrial estates, but once we got down to the river and ran past the Baltic and Tyne Bridge, things got interesting. I also enjoyed running through the woodland/cycle path section between 7-9km, it felt quite tranquil.
However, this event was the one where I got my preparation all wrong, and that lead to my day being more mentally and physically challenging than it needed to be. So here’s a few of the lessons I learnt the hard way, so you don’t have to.
- Drinking. Just don’t do it.
It was sunny, I was sitting on the grass with my friends and before I knew it there was a cider (or two) in my hands. My theory was that a drink in the afternoon wouldn’t hurt, but I really felt the effects of it the next day. I was struggling with tiredness, dehydration and mentally I was beating myself up because I knew those feelings were all avoidable, and that’s not a positive mindset to be in.
So, I know this point is an obvious one but it’s worth saying. Drinking the day before is just not a good idea. If you’re going to, save it for the pub after you’ve finished, and make sure you also have plenty of water.
- Get the zZz in
Considering sleep is one of my favourite things to do, I don’t know how I let this happen. I *think* it’s because I watched too much true crime on Quest Red and thought I was an absolutely brilliant murder detective for four hours (spoiler: I’m not), resulting in me going to bed much later than planned.
Go to bed when you plan. Don’t watch shitty TV, no matter how close you are to cracking the case.
- Eating late in the day
My timings were completely ruined when it came to eating. I stayed out longer, hadn’t prepped any food, and ended up eating pasta at 9:45pm – when I really should have been in bed. I gave myself no time to digest and could’ve made a much better pre-meal choice had I prioritised going to the shops over sunbathing in the park.
- I didn’t charge my headphones
Since I was running on my own I lined up some brilliant tunes on Spotify to keep me going, but my headphones made that sad ‘low battery’ noise and died. Now, this really pissed me off because all I had to do was plug them in the night before. When my music died at 3km luckily we were at a part of the race with lots of atmosphere, but near the end, I really struggled and could have done with a bit of Neck Deep to get me up the slog on the tyne. It doesn’t hurt to write out a checklist, I now do it the day before every event so I’ve no excuses for missing the small stuff like a headphone charge.
- Let’s face it, I didn’t stick to my plan
All the points above really come down to me not sticking to my plan at all. Being my first race outside of Edinburgh meant I was sleeping in a different bed, not cooking in my kitchen, and getting carried away with feeling like I was on holiday instead of being in ‘event mode’. Now I’m sitting at home reflecting on everything, I’m glad it happened. It’s a great learning experience, but on the day as I lay in a heap on the ground at the finish line, I was pretty pissed off with myself.
I finished in under an hour, just. 59 mins. Am I happy with that? Not really. Could I have done better? With a few small adjustments, definitely.
My next race is also not in Edinburgh, so I’ve written out my plan and packing list so I can hit my target time, and feel great in the process.