The Straits Times Virtual Run’s 175km race is a significant challenge for many runners, even experienced ones.
While some might have raced in marathons, it takes planning to cover that distance on your own in a virtual event.
Here are some things to consider when planning your runs:
SET A CLEAR OBJECTIVE
Remember not to be too ambitious and aim to plan runs progressively.
For example, runners may aim to:
• Complete a 6km run
• Complete a 6km run under 36 minutes
• Increase their weekly mileage by 10 per cent each time
• Complete a 20-minute run without walking; or
• Complete a 10km run with easy-moderate effort.
PLAN YOUR ROUTE WELL
Select an area that you are interested in exploring or are familiar with to help ease the worries you may have.
Runners may also get creative and take different routes to meet their objectives; such as running laps in the park or park connector or even running a certain speed for a certain distance before U-turning.
When planning a route, try to choose one with fewer traffic lights. This will help to smoothen your run as much as possible as there is less chance of losing your pace.
There will be a more detailed guide on selecting your routes next week.
Before starting your run, it is always good to take note or find out if there are toilets along the route (every 2-3km would be ideal), such as in community centres, parks, shopping malls and coffee shops.
Remember to bring a mask in case there is a need to stop for a toilet or hydration break during your run.
You are also expected to mask up before and after you run.
Due to Covid-19 measures, drinking directly from the water coolers at public hydration points are not allowed although the refilling of water bottles is still allowed.
An alternative to bringing your own water bottle would be utilising vending machines which are readily available in many locations and most of them accept cashless payment.
Do bring some notes/coins in case the machine does not accept e-payment.
Runners may experience many GPS dead spots due to the blockage of signals in areas such as the Downtown/CBD area where there are many tall buildings, or parks and reservoirs where there is extensive foliage (for example MacRitchie).
My advice would be to start your run in areas which are more open and away from office buildings (eg Fullerton or the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands) or to run along the boardwalk (in MacRitchie) where you will have a better GPS signal.
How to train for 17.5km
Those who run two to three times a week can break the challenge down to four or five sessions over 10 days, clocking 4-5km each session.
You can start your running journey by clocking 20-30 minutes per session. Each session allows you to clock at least 2-4km. Overall, you can look at doing
4 x 20-minute (8km in total) and a 3 x 30-minute session (10km) to complete the challenge. The estimated pace is about 9-10 minutes per kilometre. But do not worry if you cannot match that pace, especially if you are beginning your fitness journey. The advantage of doing a virtual run is to complete the distance at your own pace.
Regular runners who clock 8-15 km per session can simply break it down to two or three sessions. You can clock an 8km and 10km run and complete it in two sessions, or 8km over three sessions.
If you are used to doing races that are 5km or 10km long, do not be shocked by the distance you will have to conquer in The Straits Times Virtual Run’s 17.5km category.
If you are a seasoned runner, this distance can be done in one session.
If not, the distance can be covered cumulatively over several sessions in the given period depending on your comfort level.
The virtual run is a good time for you to pick up running. It does not require you to complete the full distance within one run, which many would feel is a tough process.
I have provided a guide on how an individual can actually plan his routine to work towards achieving the objective of completing 17.5km in 10 days.
Rest days are planned in between because they allow muscles to recover and recuperate from exercise-induced fatigue.
They also allow your body to adapt to the training load, let your nervous system regenerate, reduce chances of overtraining, and reduce chances of suffering stress fractures and more.
Loh Guo Pei
While running at such places with many GPS dead spots, I suggest you pay less attention to your pace on your smart device as the data may be inaccurate.
Choose a route with a known distance so that you will not have to rely on your smart device for this data, which may not be accurate due to the GPS dead spots.
STAY RESTED AND HYDRATED
Runners should also try to run at times when it is cooler, such as at dawn or in the evening.
This will help to reduce the amount of water breaks required and the chance of heat injuries.
FOOD TO AVOID
Try to avoid having spicy food or dairy products before your runs. Avoid eating heavy meals two to three hours before you start.
• Loh Guo Pei is a former national athlete and certified coach who trains the New Balance Running Club.
Follow this series over the next few weeks as he shares tips on tackling The ST Virtual Run’s 175km distance.
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