It’s that time of the year again…. The foot race that stops a nation…and by nation I mean thousands and thousands of Sydneysiders.
It’s one of the most renowned fitness events on the running calendar, boasting 14 grueling km through the winding hills of the Sydney’s eastern suburbs. It also just happens to be one of my favourite days of the year. Over the past few years I traded in my running shoes for blue body paint and a smurf outfit, choosing to cheer people from the sidelines with beverage in hand rather than actually run the race. This year however, I’ve signed up to the pain train.
For many preparation for the big day is well and truly underway; for those of you a little more like me plans to prepare are in place but the actual act of it hasn’t quite started yet. Don’t stress, yesterday marked 6 weeks till the run and that is more than enough time to get some miles in those legs and make sure you are more than ready on race day.
When training for a race like the City 2 Surf there are a few things you need to take into account.
- Distance: 14km is no easy feat, even for the most regular of runners.
- Pacing: For those of you that have a ‘time goal’ in place, pacing will be an important component of your training. 14km is a little longer than the average 10km event, yet significantly shorter than a half marathon. Experienced runners may want to set a target pace slightly faster than that they would aim for with a half marathon.
- Terrain: There is certainly no shortage of hills in this course. In fact they make up a large majority of it. Heartbreak hill got it’s name for a reason. 2km of steep, winding road that spits you out in the depths of Vaucluse. It’s the hardest section of the race, but don’t be fooled it’s not all downhill after that so make sure you leave a little something in the tank.
What does this mean for your training?
- Get miles in the legs: Over the next 4-5 weeks you need to try and aim for at least 2-3 longer runs per week. Pick one session that will be the ‘long run’. Saturday is always good for this because you will need time to cover the distance. Start with 8-9km and add on an extra km each week. By week 4 you should have covered one run that was at least 10-12km. I think it’s always good to tackle sections of the actual course during these runs.
- Train the terrain: Hills Hills Hills. Some of the hills in this run are pretty unique, get to know them, and know them well. Heartbreak hill repeats doesn’t exactly sound tempting BUT it’s easily the best way to get prepare your body both physically and also mentally. Here’s an idea; Pick a hill, start at the bottom and do 10 x 40 seconds up hill runs with a jog back recovery. Come back the week after and increase the time running up hill to 45 or 50 seconds. This small progressive overload is important for muscle development and training.
- On the clock: If your goal is to beat a certain time then your sessions should incorporate some pacing. These sessions don’t necessarily need to be long in terms of distance but the focus should be on speed. For example one session may be 3 x 8 minute efforts at target race pace (eg 5 min km) with a 2 minute jog recovery in between. This is only 30 minutes worth of work but it’s a 30 minutes of higher intensity work.
- Make sure you taper. The week in the lead up to the race should be relatively light. This allows your muscles to recover & ensures your body will be fighting fit on the start line. Early on in that final week do a short 20-30 minute easy jog. Mid week a slightly faster shorter session is ok, for example 5 x 1km efforts a little under race pace. Friday before race day a short 20 minute slow jog just to wind the legs over. Saturday is a day of rest, early to bed & make sure you fuel your body with all the right foods. For more info about this check out this blog on the importance of tapering
- Get your playlist in order: I cannot even fathom running without music. Pick your top 15 running beats to get you pumped up!
A little side note…. If you are running for fun? PLAN YOUR OUTFIT. No I am not going crazy, this isn’t your average running shorts & white singlet type of race…. literally anything goes. Superman, barbie, papa smurf, B1 or B2, the hulk or batman…. Dress as your please. Your imagination is the limit!
Good Luck to everyone! If you haven’t registered yet it’s not too late to get involved in one of the greatest days of the year!
Have a great day everyone & happy training