Running your first Half Marathon (specifically the Bath Half)
So you’ve done your training, slogged out the miles over winter to be ready for the Bath Half, you have your shorts and trainers ready and you’ve raised some money for one of Bath’s great local charities. But how do you ensure that you actually have a good time at the event? Maybe you need some local knowledge, well we can help with that as our osteopaths have completed the Bath Half 4 times over the last 10 years and they have a few tips for you to make sure you not only complete the run but have fun doing so.
Rest before the event!
If this is your first half marathon, then it is common to over train in the 2 weeks before the race, this should be a time for recovery and rest before the main event, certainly don’t do your longest training run any nearer than 2 weeks before the event. The weekend before you should only really do a run of around 6-7 miles, and then a steady 30 minute run sometime during the week. If you want something to do in those two weeks that can help, why not relax and stretch your tired and tight muscles to keep them flexible up to the big day.
On the day leave to get there in plenty of time but plan to keep warm
Last year there were upwards of 15000 runners, this creates a bit of congestion! If you are local to Bath, then be aware of the road closures in place. Lots of people from out of town use the park and ride services resulting in long queues at each car park. If you use Lansdown or Oddown park and ride remember that if it is cold or wet weather then these places can be extremely bleak, especially if you have to queue for 20/30 minutes for a bus! Once in town it can take a while to get into the race village and then to the start line, the organisers recommend that you are in the race village by 10:00am. Again, if it is cold, or raining you may want to bring an old hoody or jumper to wear then discard on the start line, these don’t go to waste they are collected and given to charity.
Stop drinking water about 45 mins before the event!
here is a temptation to drink like a dehydrated camel in the hours before the race, this is usually down to nervousness that dehydration will be your undoing in the latter stages. Unfortunately you can’t and won’t store this fluid and you’ll either end up endlessly queuing for the toilets before the start, or during the race (there are toilets at each drinks station). To be properly hydrated you need to start taking on adequate fluids 3 days in advance. Do not drink litres and litres of water, simply a few glasses more than normal to ensure you are adequately hydrated.
Don’t go off to fast!
The temptation to go off like a bull out of a gate is strong! If it is your first half marathon then you will most likely have an orange number, meaning you will start with the crowds and may take you a few minutes to even reach the start line. This worries people that think their overall time will be slower due to this but you will have a ‘chip time’ which records when you cross the start and finish line, so no elbowing people out of the way! Also, the first mile is slightly downhill, if you take off too fast due to excitement at getting going you should just about be out of puff by the time you get to Charles Street and the uphill approach to Queen’s Square. By the time you get to Charlotte Street you may be regretting your enthusiasm. In our experience it is much more satisfying to start slow and finish strongly that to start quickly and crawl over the line absolutely shattered!
Run your own race
Leading on from the last point, it’s very tempting to not let anyone pass you, or to develop a bizarre competition with some other random runner that seems to be going at around your pace, this can ruin your run as you are now running at someone else’s pace, not your own. Stick to the plan/pace you could keep up in training!
If you are aiming for a time over 1hr 30 mins (and let’s face it, most of us are!) then at some point you will need to take on some food, or at least a sports drink. Handily there are sports drink stations at 4.5 miles and 10 miles. Our advice here is that most people will need to eat something by the 10 mile mark, if you feel okay at that point that doesn’t mean that you will by 11 or 12, so why not pre-empt any energy crash by slowing down here to take on some food. Again, you want to finish strongly so you have good memories of the day, so you can enter next year and beat your time!