Neil Featherby: Time to put finishing touches to your training…and think about hydration.

It’s time to think about that race strategy for Run Norwich 2018, says Neil Featherby
With just over a week to go to this year’s big city centre race, the Run Norwich 10k, a lot of first timers will be asking themselves lots of questions with regards to wondering if they have ticked all the boxes to be fully prepared and ready to go when they stand on the start line.
Needless to say there will always be thoughts of “have I done enough?” or “can I squeeze a few extra miles in between now and race day?”
However, in truth, the final week should just be about putting the finishing touches to all the weeks and months of hard preparation which has gone in.
It is now about making sure that you can get the very best out of what you have done with perhaps a few specific sessions during the next few days to put the icing on the cake.
The warm weather has certainly slowed many down during training preparations and of course there have been many warnings about exercising in the extreme heat conditions.
By all accounts the forecasters suggest that August 5 (race day) will also be very warm.
Whilst it is so very important to be careful, I am sure the race will go ahead.
I have been preparing all the athletes in my groups to have a good understanding of running in such conditions and at the same time gently preparing them to run in the warmer weather.
For instance, the London Marathon earlier this year was run in very warm and stifling conditions which had also come on the back of an earlier cold spell. Whilst this spoilt many runners’ plans of hitting target times, those who ran intelligently still completed the race and got round in reasonable times.
The heart has to work much harder in such conditions due to blood flow, hence why the intensity of running can feel much greater than usual.
However, and apart from getting the pace right, hydration is key and whilst we are all so much more aware nowadays to the dangers of over hydrating (hyponatremia), it once again comes down to preparation and intelligence. My concern for people is that so many of them now talk about hyponatremia, that some of them don’t drink enough.
Little and often is the key.
When going out for a run make sure you are hydrated before you start. Any sign of thirst suggests that you aren’t. Providing we drink regularly during the day, all should be okay.
To put it bluntly, if your urine is clear or straw like in colour then you are fine. If not, then you need to drink more.
On race day or indeed when training particularly for those who are going to be exercising for an hour or more, then make sure you have a good drink (approx. 500mls) of water upon waking up or an hour or so before running. Then have another drink of about 300mls just before you start. If you need to urinate during the run then it is more than likely to do with what you drank before that last drink.
On the way round take in small amounts little and often – perhaps 150mls every 15 minutes or so. However, be careful of very concentrated sugary drinks as they could lead to dehydration and even make you feel nauseous if it is very warm.
You can always put an electrolyte tablet in your bottle or use a very carefully balanced out energy/electrolyte drink to take round with you which will also help.
Be sensible with the clothing which you run in. I used to wear a neckerchief in warm weather to constantly pour water on to it which kept the back of my neck cool. I would also pour water over my head and if need be sponge down when possible.
I have even soaked my vest before running.
Many experienced runners will go out this coming Sunday morning and go through a pre-race ritual.
In fact they will probably have the same pre-race meal on Saturday night containing lots of good carbohydrates and then get up on Sunday morning at the same time they expect to on the day of the race and then go through a race day simulation to practice what they intend doing during the race.
It is a great way to focus your mind, go through the motions and tick one of those final boxes to get it all blueprinted in your head.
For the first timer, this does not mean going out and doing your longest or indeed fastest paced run though.
On the back of my recent column about running and mental health, I received lots of private messages and calls from people telling me how running has helped them personally.
This week, I spoke to someone who has completed some amazing feats over the last few years whilst also doing so much for others for which they have now become one of these people who is so greatly admired and people look to for strength.
I have known this person for 30 years and during that time we have had lots of discussions about everything running and similar charity work which we both do.
Just very recently this person had a bit of a low themselves for which once again I received messages asking if I was I aware. Needless to say I made contact and had a good chat with them. I suppose you could ask the question as to who and what motivates the motivator? More often than not the motivator likes to motivate others because they themselves need to have motivation all around them for their own secure feelings.
At the end of the day we are all so very human and once again from what I saw this last week, it represents just how very human the running community are when it comes to offering support to each other when needed. Running is without a doubt a fantastic sport.
But at the same time and as I have said so many times before, it is also so much more than just a sport.