Health and Fitness: Food, hydration and gear tips for race day

HAVE A RACE PLAN: If you are new to running and have set yourself a certain time to complete your event in the Lake Macquarie Running Festival this weekend, know where your pace runner is. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
HAVE A RACE PLAN: If you are new to running and have set yourself a certain time to complete your event in the Lake Macquarie Running Festival this weekend, know where your pace runner is. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Entering an event for the first time can be exciting while also daunting.

As the pre-race nerves set in, you might start to wonder if you are in fact ready for race day.

It was with this in mind that I spoke to some experts involved with the Lake Macquarie Running Festival, which is being held this Sunday.

The event started as just a half marathon (21.1 kilometres) in 1984 but has grown to include a 10.5km fun run and a kids 4km scamper.

If you have set yourself a certain finish time then there will be pace runners out on the course. They carry different coloured balloons with an estimated finish time on them, so know ahead of the gun which colour you are aiming to stick close to.

Another thing to think about is race gear.

Obviously being comfortable is a priority but race day can sometimes end up in blisters and chaffing that you may not have experienced in training.

Making sure you have appropriate shoes is normally the first and main concern for new-time runners but Ben Toomey, of Pure Performance Sports, said there were a few other, often forgotten items that may be of use as well, especially for first-timers.

“One of the obvious things is blistering and chafing, so make sure you have a good pair of running socks to prevent blisters and something like BodyGlide which is an anti-chafing balm and prevents chaffing and rubbing in the wrong places,” Mr Toomey said.

“Use a T-shirt that is a moisture-wicking and sweat-wicking fabric as cotton can get quite heavy. A hat if it’s raining or sunny can be handy as well.” 

REPLENISH: There will be plenty of fruit and liquid on hand in the finishing area after the Lake Macquarie Running Festival. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

REPLENISH: There will be plenty of fruit and liquid on hand in the finishing area after the Lake Macquarie Running Festival. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

You might also be wondering about how to fuel your body pre and post-race.

Sports physician Dr Ross Cairns, of Newcastle Sports Medicine, is the Lake Macquarie Running Festival race doctor said there were some simple dos and don’ts.

“The main thing is to have fluid freely available and to drink when you want to drink, which is what we call ad libitum. It’s different to drinking to thirst because drinking to thirst is probably a little bit delayed compared to drinking when you just want to have a drink.

“That’s a simple guideline. Just make sure you’ve got fluid available and if you want a drink have it, but don’t be afraid of being dehydrated and drinking ahead of when you’re thirsty. That keeps you in a safe range of not overhydrating or underhydrating.”

He said that meant ensuring you are drinking “a good amount of fluid” a couple of days before the race and having around half a litre a couple of hours beforehand.

“That way your body has got time to excrete what it doesn’t need, so you start hydrated,” Dr Ross said.

Food is also important. He suggested keeping it simple by “avoiding fatty foods, avoiding a lot of protein and fibre which take time for your system to digest” and eating no closer than two hours to the event.

Post-race there will be fresh fruit and drinks available in the finishing area which can help replace fluid and lost glycogen. 

Most importantly, make sure you enjoy yourself, especially if it is your first run.

Upcoming Fitness Events

Lake Macquarie Running Festival, Warners Bay, August 26: Held on the shores of Lake Macquarie, there is a 21.1km half marathon course, a 10.5km fun run and 4km kids’ scamper.

Wollombi Wild Ride, Wollombi, September 1: Celebrating its 10th year, this cross country mountain bike event features a 58-kilometre challenge for the diehards plus 30km and 13.5km courses.

Variety Spin 4 Kids, Harbour Square, September 7: A six-hour cycling charity event to help disadvantaged children of the Hunter. It is on stationary bikes and teams comprise up to 10 riders or you can do it solo.

Winter Warmers Week #12

There are two weeks of winter to go and it’s time to make the most of it.

Hit the park, pavement or gym for an interval session. It might look like: Run 500 metres, walk 500m continuously for 20 or 30 minutes.

For a harder session, shorten the recoveries. This could be run 750m followed by a 250m walk or run 1km, walk 500m. You can also do this at the gym on the bike or rower.

Make it a strength and cardio workout by adding a strength set: 20 squats, 10 push-ups, 20 step-ups with shoulder press, 10 rows/pull-ups, 20 ab rotation with weights, 10 glute bridge, run or walk 400m. Repeat twice.

Send your health and fitness news to r.valentine@fairfaxmedia.com.au.