Saturday morning was COLD, the kind of cold that made me ignore the offensively early weekend alarm and roll over. But it was also the morning of the Reading Half Training Day so I HAD to get up. Unfortunately my unscheduled alarm-ignoring meant I didn’t have time for porridge and had to make do with breakfast in the car…
We started the morning off with an overview of the day ahead and the race itself, which will be on the 18th March. The Reading Half has been going since 1983 and has since evolved to a rather prestigious race that attracts a wide field of athletes with a pretty magnificent finish in the Madejski Stadium. I haven’t run this one before so I’m really excited to be part of it this year, especially now I know about the secret wine and beer hydration’ station at 8.5 miles (unofficial, obvs). Hey, I ran a marathon drunk so a swig or two of wine will do me no harm whatsoever!
Selfie with the Townsend Twins
Then came the fun bit, a 30 minute strength and cardio workout with the Townsend Twins, who are the official warm up partners for the Reading Half. After loosening up, we were put through our paces with several rounds of exercises including squat jumps, lunges, ski jumps, dead lifts, planks, V sit-ups (yes, ouch), glute bridges, cycle sit-ups and back extensions. It actually got pretty sweaty…and we hadn’t even been for a run yet.
After re-hydrating, we then had a session with Ali, one of the official Reading Half pacers, who took us through all the key elements of pacing your perfect race. He had lots of top tips to remember on the day:
- Plan ahead and be prepared, especially on race day. You don’t want to turn up late and not know where the toilets are (for the record, it’s unacceptable to pee in the bushes…)
- Don’t panic at the start off the race and let adrenaline take over, you’ll only bonk before you finish. Easier said than done that one!
- Don’t weave in and out of people, it just wastes energy. I’m definitely guilty of this and it makes a real difference when I have the self control not to do it.
- Break the race down into bite-size chunks, instead of thinking of it as one long 13.1 mile run, think of it in sections
- Miles 1-3 – get yourself settled into the race
- Miles 3-11 – keep checking in on yourself to see how you’re feeling and adjust your pace and/or goal accordingly
- Miles 11-13.1 – take it home and bask in the glory
If you’re interested, Reading will be offering pacers at 5 minute intervals from 1:20 all the way up to 2:30 so make sure you latch on to one of them and let them do all the hard work for you (OK, almost all of the hard work, I mean, they don’t offer piggybacks).
Cold, cold cold!
Then it was time to run! After a warm up in the very chilly but sunny air, we were off on a 3 mile loop that took us through the start of the race course in Green Park, and round to the Madejski Stadium where we would be finishing on the track. Unfortunately it was match day, so we couldn’t go in, but we could loiter suspiciously and peak through the gates imagining ourselves crossing the finish line to the roar of the crowds in the stadium!
Blue skies at the Madejski Stadium
Back at base, it was onto the serious business of warm up exercises and post-run stretching. You know, all the things we know we should do but tend to skimp on, or is that just me?? There were a few key things I took from this session:
Before you run:
- Loosen tight hamstrings with The Slump Test (a new one on me!):
- Sit on the edge of a table with your legs hanging off and hands behind your back
- Slump your back so you fall slightly forwards with your head down
- With a flexed foot, kick your leg vigorously upwards
- Keep going until they feel looser!
Looks a little odd but it works!
- Another one for the hammys – Heel Kicks. A good way to do this is to stand arms length from a wall and kick vigourously towards the bum with your knees in line
- Activate the glutes, yes, every time. Donkey kicks are great for this
After you run:
- Make sure you stretch the calves, hamstrings and quads!
We finished with a Q&A and more info on the day itself. In addition to the unofficial beer stop, there will be water stations supplied in pouches every 3 miles. I LOVE the pouches because they are much easier to carry and are less of an injury risk if you accidentally step on one.
Green Park’s Foudry Brook
I thought the Reading Half Training Day was brilliant for both new and experienced runners and I definitely learnt a thing or two about warming up properly!
The Reading Half Marathon is on 18th March and there are still spaces available here if you would like to come and join us. There’s also a January competition to win some running goodies, including some wireless headphones, a foam roller, a Ron Hill LED light High 5 recovery pack, so make sure you enter!
Note: I will be taking part in the Reading Half as a race ambassador, all views are my own.