Organised by HiVelocity Events, the Sundown Marathon takes place on May 28 – in about one and a half month’s time, flagging off at the F1 Pit Building – home of Singapore’s “other night race”, the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.
One of two annual Full Marathon races to be held in Singapore, the Sundown Marathon event has become well known amongst the Singapore running community over the years, for its starting times around midnight – last year, the Half Marathon flagged off at 30 minutes past midnight and the Full Marathon had started at one o’clock in the morning.
To get runners in the mood for the 2016 edition of the Sundown Marathon, I got some tips from Ben Pulham, founder of boutique fitness training company, Coached.
Sundown is harder than an early morning marathon
According to Ben, running Sundown Marathon is much harder than taking part in an early morning race. He said “The Sundown Marathon is extremely tough and I have suffered more than expected both times I have run. The body is meant to be sleeping at that time of day, not pushing itself to the limit.”
He added, “From what I have seen with my clients throughout the years, the Singapore Marathon have more personal bests [PBs] than the Sundown run. Most people here are used to training in the hot and humid conditions, but very few put themselves in a position where they run regularly, late at night. As such, they are not conditioned to run well in this situation and the results I have seen, reflect that.”
Do a few key long runs at midnight
But to train for the Sundown Marathon, Ben does not exactly advise runners to do all of their training runs at midnight though.
He said, “Definitely not for all of them, but for a few key long runs, you might want to consider running at that time. The body is smart and it responds quickly to what we show it. By doing a few of your runs at this time, your body will condition itself and become more familiar with what is required at this time of day.”When training at midnight though, safety is the top priority and this should not be compromised. Said Ben, “If possible, stick to running on tracks or footpaths. If you are running near traffic, be sure to wear light or bright clothing and wear a reflective vest or belt.”
Hydrate and eat well on the day of the race
On the day of the Sundown Marathon itself, Ben feels that it is essential to hydrate well and not to tire yourself out. He said, “A few things hold true. Move around, but not so much to tire yourself out. Also, eat quality food and sip on water or an electrolyte drink throughout the day to ensure that you are well fuelled and hydrated.”
And in terms of when it’s best to eat on race day too, the most food should be eaten soon after waking up in the morning. Said Ben, “Eat a big breakfast when you wake up. Have lunch around 12pm to 1pm. Have an early dinner round 6pm and then eat a light meal around 9pm if the race flags off at midnight.”
Plan Strategy similar to a morning race
During the actual race, when you are running, your strategy should be similar to a morning race according to Ben. He said, “The strategy should be similar – one that builds throughout the race. Because Sundown and running through the night is so tough though, an even more conservative start is required especially if you are not conditioned to running through the night.”
This means that the first few kilometres are vital – with everyone else beginning the race very fast, you may find yourself sucked into the atmosphere and adrenaline, and not realise how fast you are running. Don’t do this according to Ben – because it is the best way to “hit the wall” during the race as soon as possible.
He said, “Start 20s to 30s slower than your target pace and think of the early stages of the run as a good way to warm your body up. Ignore other runners who are sprinting past you – they will suffer later and you will end up being the one to run past them.”
And Ben added that if your legs are feeling tired in the latter stages of the race, then it helps to shorten your stride and begin pumping your arms, as this will take off some of the strain that the legs may be feeling.
And this should help you to finish strong, according to Ben – so that you will feel good when you are running through the finishing chute, with other runners and supporters clapping and cheering you on.