Are you training for a running event in Autumn 2022 or Spring 2023?

Fun run

Over recent years there has been a surge in people wanting to run more, in fact a government survey found that between Nov 2019 and Nov 2020 nearly 7 million people ran at least twice in a 28 day time frame (  The health benefits of running are considerable and include: increased lung capacity, building of physical strength, joint strength and boosting confidence.  It is no surprise therefore that there are more and more running events being organised. 

In Windsor we have a beautiful run coming up in the great park – a Women’s 10k on the 24th Sept and a half marathon for all on the 25th September (  With all of this in mind, in  our blog this month we wanted to focus on your training and share some things to consider when preparing for your next event, whether you are down to run the Windsor half marathon in September or the Reading ( on the 2nd April 2023 and have a bit more time to prepare, hopefully the below will be useful.

Training plans and race day strategy

It’s good to have a strategy for your event, consider what your objective might be?   Perhaps you are running the event to achieve a personal best (PB in runners’ terms) or for fun, either way your training plan will hopefully be appropriate to what you are hoping to achieve.  There is not a right or wrong answer, and the most important thing is that you enjoy the training and the event itself.

If you are still many months away from your event and you don’t yet have a plan there are a plethora of phone apps or plans online to choose from. If you are looking for a PB ideally, you’ll want a plan that involves tempo (interval) runs, distance runs and recovery runs. If you are looking to run for fun then you might choose a progressive distance training plan, that ensures you can complete the distance on the day without focusing on pace. Most training plans will include a tapering element in the lead up to the race so that you are rested, but still moving in the last week or two before your event.

With so many runs now being organised, some are in direct support of a charity eg: Race For Life ( whereas for others you can choose a cause which is close to your heart.  If you are raising money, don’t forget to set up a Just Giving page to collect the monies and sometimes you can also get help with entry fees.

Kit and What to Wear!

There are lots of articles about how running is free and doesn’t cost you anything and while I agree there are no monthly fees to pay, like a gym membership – running does require a few key bits of kit.

Firstly, running in the right pair of trainers will make all the difference, not only while you are running, as you want them to be comfortable but also for support to protect your feet stay injury free. It’s really helpful to have your running gait analysed and find out if you over or under (supination) pronate or have a neutral stance. If you over pronate, you’ll need more arch support in your trainers and if you under pronate you’ll maybe need a bit more cushioning in your trainer.    

Running in old trainers that have very little cushioning or grip, can result in injury or more impact on your joints and they are likely to have lost some of their support for the ankle too. If you are going to invest in a new pair of trainers get them fitted by a professional and get them a good few months before your event so that you can wear them in, with plenty of time.

The other consideration is your outfit for both training runs and the big day.  Running in ill-fitting clothing can ruin your running experience because it might lead to chafing, clothes ride up or down and be uncomfortable. It only takes a couple of ruined runs to realise that a couple of specific bits of kit are worth the investment.

It is also worth considering what you are going to wear pre and post-race. If the queue for the start line is far from where you leave your bag, you might get cold as you wait. What you wear on the way  home after is also important especially for colder months, being tired, sweaty and cold even in the car is unpleasant.  Packing a pair of joggers to change into which fit over your trainers and a sweatshirt or even a hat will make a much pleasanter journey home.

Planning Food and Drink

As the length of your runs increase it is important to plan your meals, to be able to give your body the fuel it needs to perform at its best, even if you are running for fun. Dinner the night before and breakfast on the day are important, as is understanding how much time you need in between finishing a meal and running – a stich is no fun. Firstly, try not to eat something that you don’t usually have for dinner the night before, an upset stomach is not great. Considering that carbohydrates are going to be your immediate energy source for a run, make sure both dinner and breakfast include a good amount of each, but if a big bowl of pasta isn’t your usual dinner consider that it might bloat you and make you feel sluggish. If you are taking your event very seriously have a few practices runs of meals during your training phase. The same principles apply for breakfast on the day it should be easily digestible, for me porridge or a banana works really well. If you have race day nerves it’s important that you try to have something rather than missing out.

Race day drinks and gels are sometimes provided by the event organisers, but it’s a good idea not to have them if you haven’t had them in your training runs. Some of the gels and energy drinks have high levels of caffeine in them and they can cause stomach cramps (or worse).  If you are going to need to re-fuel during you run then practice with them during your training and bring them with you on the day or stick to water.

When I was a beginner runner, I used to think that I didn’t need an event day warm-up, why would I want to use up all my energy before the event, I soon learnt crossing the start line with cold joints and muscles makes for an comfortable start. If you are going for a PB on the day you’ll probably be running full on to achieve it and you want to start as warmed up and ready to go as possible – it can also help with race day nerves to do something while everyone else is milling about killing time.

Running Tech

Some events prefer you not to listen to music as you run, I personally love moving to music and it plays a big part of my enjoyment of running.  Ensure that you have earphones which are comfortable and don’t fall out of your ears or hinder your technique, is a good place to start. I use Bluetooth earphones that go around the back of my neck which work for me, but take some time to understand what works for you. At the start line I only have one ear covered, so that I can listen to any instructions. 

There is lots of running tech out there that you can use, such as a GPS watch for tracking your timings or apps such as Strava to help you map your route, you don’t need to spend a lot unless you want to.

Other bits to consider

It is worth considering are other things like your support crew, do you have friends or family that are coming to support you and cheer you on? It’s worth asking them to wait somewhere on the route that you might be flagging to give you a boost.  From personal experience, I have found that the crowds at running events are really encouraging, especially if you look like you need some help!  

Think about your transport or accommodation plans for the day, do you need to book things well in advance – bear in mind that if it’s a big event there might be huge numbers of cars or people on public transport massing into a small area.

Check out the race facilities for the day, where do you register and collect your number?  Do you need to bring your own safety pins with you?  Where are the toilets and water stations?

Do you need a pre or post-race massage, running on tight muscles can hinder performance and in the worst case scenario cause injury. Post-race massage can cut down your recovery time or be a nice reward for all your hard work.

Let me know what other tips you would share and good luck for your next big event!

I am delighted to let you know that I will be starting my running coaching qualification in the autumn, so alongside building strength in our training sessions, if you are training for a running event, let me know and we can build this into our programme.  Get in touch to discover more. 

Sara McDonnell

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