From breakfast to warm-up: tips for the race day



‘You should warm up a half hour before the start. Start by running slowly for around ten minutes. Then you can go at it a bit more intensively for another ten minutes, speeding up a few times to get your heart rate up and speed up your breathing. Make sure you don't get out of breath. In the last five minutes, slow down again. The intensity depends on the distance. For a quick 5-kilometre run, you would gain more from an intensive warm-up than for a marathon. Ideally, end your warm-up ten minutes before the start. If there is more time in between, then the effect will gradually disappear. Of course, it is right to say that an extensive warm-up at a mass event is not easy, since you need to take your place in the starting blocks on time. If this is the case, try to move as much as you can and don’t push yourself in the first kilometres, so that you gradually reach your rhythm.’ 

Negative split 

‘Choose your pace in such a way that you get the sensation that you could run a negative split. This means that you run a bit faster in the second part of the race than in the first. Uphill on the way? Make sure you don't strain yourself uphill and don't get out of breath. When you reach the top, don't immediately increase your speed, but take the time gradually to recover.’ 

Choose your pace in such a way that you get the sensation that you could run a negative split

Paul Van Den Bosch

No bacon and eggs! 

‘Have breakfast between two and three hours before the start. Be sure to eat 3 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight. For instance, if you weigh 70 kg, you’ll need 210 grams of carbohydrates. That amounts to four bread rolls with honey and 100 grams of corn flakes with skim milk, or six sandwiches with jam and 100 grams of corn flakes, or 200 grams of spaghetti with two slices of white bread and some tomato sauce. Choose white bread and corn flakes instead of wholewheat bread and muesli, since the latter are rich in fibre and could mean that you will need to move your bowels during the race. Avoid croissants, eggs, (Danish) pastries and meat. They contain a lot of fat and are more difficult to digest. In other words, no bacon and eggs!’

Sports drink or energy drink? 

‘A lot of runners are dehydrated when they start. So put aside a bit of a reserve by drinking more in the days before the race. Between breakfast and the start, drink, preferably, water regularly. Still water of course, since carbonated drinks can irritate the stomach. Fifteen minutes before the start, drink 250 to 400 millilitres of a sports drink (a drink with 60 grams of carbohydrates per litre of liquid). Avoid actual energy drinks, since they are too concentrated. With a sports drink, you get a final boost of energy and fill up on fluids and sugar. 
Take your time at the water stops to drink the whole cup. If you don't want to stop, slow down and squeeze your cup into a funnel so you can drink more easily. The seconds you may lose in the process can easily be made up later. By drinking you will be able to maintain your pace, whereas if you become dehydrated, you could start struggling. 
During the race, opt ideally for a sports drink, for the combination of energy and hydration. Since not everyone tolerates each brand equally, it is a good idea to check what the race organisers will be offering, and try out that drink during your training. It also depends, of course, on how fast you run: someone who does around 20 km an hour can in theory do so on plain water, whereas if you will take two hours, you will need some glucose. Of course, you can also wear a belt with your own drink bottle.’ 


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