Training: Preparing for an event
Team Starfish member, Lesley Colman, has taken on a 12 in 12 challenge for the charity this year and has been completing 12 half marathons in 12 months!
With Lesley now quite familiar with preparing for an event, here are her top tips she's picked up along the way.
"If you are a first timer to any race event I hope you find the advice helpful, and it guides you so you are standing at the start line in a calm state and not a bag of nerves! If you are a seasoned runner, it’s always good to refresh yourselves once in a while. So here goes..."

Preparing for an event

  • Have a realistic training plan – you must be at a standard that allows you to start the plan with no real struggles. Otherwise you will make excuses from the start as it will be too much like hard work. The plan must be achievable in terms of the number of weeks you allow yourself to train, with an increase per week of the number of sessions, miles or intensity per session. You will be working harder every week, and the mileage will increase, however a good plan will not increase so dramatically that you notice the difference, or you injure yourself.
  • Have a training buddy – training can be a lonely game, particularly on those long runs. Having a training buddy, somebody who is the same pace as you, really helps. It must be someone though who can dedicate the same amount of time as you to the training and is as committed to achieving as you are. Arranging to do a run with someone else means you are more likely to do the run, even on the days when you are not motivated, or the weather is against you. You really will not want to cry off as you don’t want to let anyone down. I guarantee you that you will feel so much better afterwards for doing the session – and nine times out of ten they didn’t want to do the session either but didn’t want to let you down! 


  • Make sure all the hydrating techniques and energy products are tried and tested during your training. By you! This also goes for what you eat and drink pre-run. Everyone you know will offer advice and let you know what works for them. Accept this advice gracefully and consider it. However, remember you are not them and it may not work for you. Every single runner who has trained for an event, longer distances especially, has suffered from one kind of reaction or another (won’t go into too much detail here….you get the drift!) because of drinking water too frequently or consuming energy products whose ingredients have disagreed with them. And once you have established what works for you stick to it and purchase enough way in advance to get you through all the training and race day.
  • Clothing – you will be training in all weathers so having the correct clothing is essential. Again, these must be tried and tested. Do not wear a new pair of shorts or leggings for the first time on a long run. Chafing is painful….trust me! The jury is out on calf guards. Some people like to run with them on, some people use them as a recovery aid. Again, whatever works for you. I wear mine when I am racing, whatever distance, and when I am doing long runs. My running buddy never wears them and does ultras. Everybody is different.   On the subject of clothing, check you have an old top that you don’t mind parting ways with. If not buy one in a charity shop. You may need to wear it the morning of the race to keep warm and then throw to the wayside at the start of the race. Many organisers collect these up and give to charity so you are in effect recycling 😊 
  • Sleep and rest – do not underestimate how important both of these are to the success of your training. You will be pushing your body to its limits, into the unknown on occasions, and you need to treat it kindly. Allow it time to recover and it will thank you for it by staying injury free. So, when there is a rest day on your plan, take it and rest. It does not mean cross training or doing another activity which uses other muscles or consumes energy. A rest day is meant to help you repair and restore your energy supplies, so you have the ability to take on the next session. 
  • Travel/hotel arrangements – ‘Fail to plan and plan to fail’ as the saying goes. Check the details of the race – what is the start time, how are you going to get there, do you need to stay over? Or are you like me who hates getting up at ‘stupid o’clock’, to then drive a couple of hours, and then hope there is parking near the start? I am exhausted before I have even done the race! I need a relaxing start and so always avoid the risk of anything happening on the day by staying over the night before, as near to the start line as possible, so as not to rely on public transport? Obviously, I don’t go to this extreme if the race is really local……!
  • Check communications and advice from the organisers. Usually you receive regular emails from the organisers in the countdown to the event. Check your inbox regularly as it will advise you as to whether you are being sent a race pack containing your running bib/number or whether you have to pick it up on the day. A number of organisers are doing the latter now to save on postage costs so be prepared to build more time into your pre-race arrangements. If they say you will be receiving it in the post, place a reminder on the calendar. If you don’t receive it by that date, then it gives you enough time to contact the organisers and a duplicate can be sent out. The information will also advise about race etiquette. Read and re-read. You do not want to be disqualified on the day due to an oversight…….if it says no headphones, then no headphones. Ok?
  • Alcohol – well…..depends how much you drink ‘normally’ and whether you would murder someone if you didn’t have a drink! It also depends on how much you want success and to achieve. However, us runners are pretty disciplined when it comes to drinking as we are either running in the evening or early the next day. I personally do not drink for eight weeks before a marathon and two weeks before a half. 10k and 5k – two nights.

To read Lesley's top tips for race day, click here.

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