6 tips to beat your personal best at a run


myruns, parkruns, Retro Runs, the Discovery 947 Rhythm Run, the Vitality Run Series, the Discovery Jacaranda Spring Walk – there’s no shortage of exciting weekly and annual races to join. Here are six tips to achieve your personal best.

One of the many joys of participating in a regular race – be it weekly or annual – is keeping track of how much you’ve improved from the last time. Whether that comes in the form of shaving minutes or seconds off your last finishing time, upping your pace from walking to jogging, completing it with loved ones, or ticking off an event at a beautiful new local destination – there are many ways you can mark your progress.

While the social vibe and energy at races is thrilling and motivating, it takes training in between to keep running fit for bigger races on the annual running calendar. Weekly parkruns and myruns – free 5 km events that take place across the country every Saturday and Sunday morning – present great opportunities to do so. Here are six tips on how to achieve your best performance at a parkrun or myrun.

6 tips to beat your personal best at a run
  1. Save brekkies for afterwards. If you get hungry in the mornings, have something small like coffee and a rusk or a banana 30 minutes to an hour before the race, but nothing heavy. If you have a large meal, your body will redirect more than half of your cardiac output to your digestive system and that’s precious blood flow you want pumping into your leg muscles instead.
  2. Start near the front. Weaving your way past hordes of other participants can slow you down. So, try to start at the front of the crowd or along the sides so you can pass other runners more easily.
  3. Warm up dynamically. There’s no need for an exhaustive warmup, but make sure you've moved enough that your body is physically warm before you set off. The best kind of warmup before a run is a dynamic one (for example a few minutes of light jogging) rather than static stretches.
  4. Perfect your pace. This is critical; don't let other runners dictate your pace. Even when you're fit and ready to run, poor pacing can break your race. Start too fast and you'll end up battling to beat back the ache in your chest and legs. Try to find a good rhythm instead of chasing someone else. Once you've built up a decent level of fitness and strength, the speed will come.

    As Discovery Vitality biokineticist Mari Leach says: "A race isn't won in the first 100 metres. Think long-term and keep the whole race in mind when you start off. You should have found your sustainable pace within the first kilometre. One of the great things about timed races is that you can't really lose because you'll be learning something about how to run through various situations."

    "Many things can affect your performance," she adds, "such as poor sleep, stress, and muscle fatigue from heavy training weeks, so don't be too hard on yourself if other factors are at play. Give yourself credit for being out there and enjoy the experience rather. You'll soon find another (more optimal) opportunity to break that personal best."

  5. Don't lose your posture uphill. When you have a hilly course, focus on maintaining your running posture. Try not to slump forward with your upper body as you run up because this will add more loading on the quads and calves. Keep your chest up, slightly shorten your strides and try keep your rhythm. Before you know it, you will be on top and can enjoy the downhill

  6. Learn the course. The great thing about parkruns and myruns is that you get another chance to better your run every week at the same venue. Don't expect to break records on a new course. Once you've run the same course a few times, you'll learn its geographical idiosyncrasies, and will learn how to pace yourself along the course to best "work" it.

    This can help you decide how and when to kick it up a gear to earn an extra few seconds. Knowing you're close to the end can give you the motivation to push harder and give it your all, knowing that rest lies just around the corner.

Mari adds, "While beating your time is satisfying for anyone, you don't have to sprint through a run to enjoy the many health benefits of physical activity. Hold yourself to your own goals, run safely and enjoy the outdoors." For individual advice on how to up your game and stay injury-free, talk to a biokineticist or fitness trainer.

Mass run or walk events – so many reasons to make a tradition of it

If you don’t already, why not decide to start a tradition of participating in weekly and annual runs or walks in your area? These mass participation events bring thousands of people together to enjoy outdoor activities safely, and socially – combining quality time with friends, colleagues and families with physical activity and South Africa’s stunning natural beauty.

Signing up for a race will also serve as motivation to keep training in the weeks and months leading up to the event, as well as give you the chance to create wonderful memories! Want ideas?

Exercise is contagious – so catch the fun at the Discovery 94.7 Rhythm Run

There are a number of studies that show people are drawn to the exercise behaviours of those around them, and the more time overweight people spend with their fit friends, people are drawn! Exploit the motivating effects of group exercise by joining hundreds of like-minded people at the Discovery 94.7 Rhythm Run on Saturday, 25 May.

Your many benefits of staying active with Vitality include up to 50% cash back on your entry fee if you belong to Team Vitality Running, as well as bonus Vitality points – a great way bump up your Vitality status and achieve (or maintain) the very best rewards for healthy living! It’s almost time to #RuleTheRaceTrack and there are only a few spots left, so don’t delay – sign up today.

#WalkToTheBeat of good vibes at this year’s Discovery ECR Big Walk

The Discovery ECR Big Walk is a firm favourite on the KwaZulu-Natal social and sporting calendar, and this year the fun’s all happening on Sunday, 19 May 2019. The event offers three walking routes (5km, 10km and 20km), as well as a 9km fun run, plus the chance to earn up to 1 100 Vitality points! En route, you can enjoy live entertainment, kids’ attractions and ECR DJs making shout outs and playing songs voted for by you.

This is a family event that combines physical activity, good music and quality outdoor time with others – all along one of the most beautiful promenades in the country. For more, visit www.durbanbigwalk.co.za and sign up today to let the beat guide your feet at the #DurbanBigWalk this May!

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