Let us start by answering, why you should run an overseas race to become a stronger runner?
With the increasing availability of affordable flights from Singapore and emerging running culture developing in this region, you can fulfil your wanderlust and be spoilt for choice to race overseas. A new race challenge could be the key to motivate you to train, experience new cultures and develop into a stronger runner. Runners can attest that completing a long distance race is more than just a test of physical endurance but it is also a challenge on one’s mental resilience. In many international marathons, the locals would often come to support and cheer for the runners and the city will turn into a big party, adding to the runner’s high on race day.
Motivation to add spice up to your training routine
Did you know that most of Singapore is only 15m above sea level? Since a substantial part of the local marathons training routes incorporate East Coast Parkway and Marina Bay which is pretty flat, you could be missing out invaluable hills training if you only run on even ground.
Frank Shorter, the 1972 Olympics Marathon champion once said, “Hills are speed work in disguise”.
By adding some diversity to our workout like hill training, it can spice up our training and help us to become stronger and faster runners.
Strengthen your mental resilience
After awhile one can get too accustomed to local race conditions and complement in our race preparation. Different countries have different race culture, level of readiness, and approaches towards race organisations, which may have impact on runner’s performance on the race day. Taking part in an overseas race removes us from the comfort zone, forces one to adapt to new environment and train the mind to focus few keys to bring its best and become a more resilient runner over time. Should the run do not pan out as expected, this opportunity could be reframed as a learning opportunity to discover and learn more about oneself.
As Steve Jobs was quoted, “the journey is the reward”.
For a runner, the journey of breaking out of the comfort zone in a new environment and more about oneself is itself one of the best rewards in life.
Here are some 10 tips to help you find and prepare for your next overseas race:
- Prepare a list of your favourite destinations and match it with World Athletics or AIMS road races/ marathon calendars. Ask other runners for race suggestions! Be creative! Why not find an overseas race and pair it with a concert, festival or exhibition?
- For the initial overseas races, do not go too far and pick nearby metropolitan destinations known for great race organisation and support, abundant flight options from Singapore and reduce the effects of jetlag. Cities such like Tokyo, Taipei, Bangkok, Sydney and Melbourne are some good starting points.
- Pick a target race based on your availability, running preferences and build them into your training program (ideally at least 16 weeks long).
- Research on the race weather and race elevation profile. Is the destination very cold or windy during that time of the year? Is the route is hilly or mostly flat? Incorporate these conditions into your training program.
- You do not have to stay next to race venue which could be expensive. Save money and pick in an alternative location close to a metro station that is within 30mins from the race venue. Stay in a hotel or a hostel (ideally not Airbnb) so that you can get timely local transport advice to get to the race venue.
- Arrive at least 2-3 days prior to race day. It takes time for your body to adjust to a new time zone, climate and the environment. For destinations more than 10 hours away, try to arrive on a Thursday for a Sunday race.
- Bring your own race supplements. A race is not the time to experiment new supplements.
- Use the opportunity to check out the race expo thoroughly, talk to the local runners to find out more about the race conditions and logistics and recce the race route
- Soak in the race atmosphere, interact with the locals and do not forget to have fun!
10. After the run, give your body enough time to recover. Schedule your return flight at least 5 hours after the race or the next day.
And finally, don’t wear your hard earned finisher t-shirt to the airport 🙂