37-year-old Fabian Williams is no stranger to the local running scene.
A well-known athlete and coach in Singapore
As an athlete, Williams has chalked up numerous achievements – the most notable of these was his first-placed finish at the 2008 adidas Sundown Ultra Marathon – and breaking the local Ultra Marathon record at the same time.
And Williams was the top Singaporean finisher at the 2009 Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Half Marathon as well as at the 2006 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon. In 2012, he also completed a 5-day multi-stage race in Tasmania and a Full Ironman in Western Australia, within the space of one week.
Upon his retirement as a competitive athlete, Williams went on to take up coaching, and is now the Director of his own company, the Fabian Williams Coaching Concepts (FWCC), which helps to fulfil the potential of athletes not only in track & field, but also in triathlon and adventure racing.
With Singapore’s marathon race, the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) just taking place around the corner on 6 December, Williams has given prischew.com some last-minute tips for runners.
And here they are.
Too late to do last-minute training
Since the SCMS is on the first weekend of next month, Williams feels that is now too late to do last-minute training in the hopes of getting a better timing at the race. Said Williams, “The final two weeks to any major race should be in the tapering window, so stick to your original training and tapering plan. Do not attempt to include any last-minute unplanned runs. It will not help in any way at this point.”
Added Williams, “You may feel worried about not running as much but that’s perfectly fine. Allow your body to rest and recover and regenerate itself to its peak form just in time to race.”
And for those who are insufficiently trained, Williams strongly advised them to pull out of the race. He said, “If a runner is not prepared, I will suggest that he or she withdraws from the race – to prevent possible injuries. There is always another race to run in. If a participant insists on running, then be extremely conservative in the pacing strategies, as well as having optimal hydration and fuelling during the race itself.”
Prepare your race gear and transport plans the day beforehand
Williams added that on the morning of the race, you should not be rushing around in a panic state. He said, “Ensure that all your race gear has been prepared in advance the day before – so that you can prevent any last-minute scurrying around that will pre-exhaust you.”
At the same time, Williams advised that you should have a concrete travel plan to get to the starting point of the race and be aware of how much time you will need to get there. Said Williams, “Be sure to have a plan on how you are going to arrive at the race site too and find out where to deposit your belongings, park your vehicle, where the toilets are and where the start line is located. Do not let the magnitude of the event overwhelm you.”
Have a concrete running and pacing strategy
And when the starting horn blows, you should have a concrete strategy in your head, too. Said Williams, “Do not start too fast. This typically happens with many inexperienced runners. They get caught up in the hype that they forget their capabilities and over-run their pace at the start, which may be detrimental to their possible overall race performance eventually.”
He added, “So start conservatively, knowing that you have 42km to take relative action. Do not get drawn in by the surrounding runners to run at a pace that is not pre-determined. Stay within your pace window. Do your homework on the race route and distance markers so that you can keep yourself in check, right from the start.”
But what if you have already been caught in the hype at the beginning? Said Williams, “You should immediately fall back to a pace that is slower than race pace till you settle into a rhythm. Then slowly ease back up into your ideal race pace.”
Hydration is important
Williams also stressed that hydration is important when running – but it is more important to avoid over-hydrating rather than under-hydrating. He said, “Utilise your individual tested methods of hydration but as much as there is a need to stay hydrated, please do not over-hydrate as it may lead to hyponatremia.”
He added, “Take small sips instead of gulps to avoid any possible onset of stitches during the run. And if needed, just stop to hydrate before resuming the run. And always check before you decide to empty a cup of water on your head – just to make sure that it’s not an isotonic drink instead.”
Stick to the tried-and-tested on race day
Race-day is also certainly not the time to try something new, be it new methods of fuelling, a new type of energy gel or a pair of new running shoes. Added Williams, “Stick to the tried and tested procedures, such as methods and type of hydration and refuelling. Use seasoned shoes and apparels and not new ones.”
Enjoy the experience
The coach continued, “But no matter what happens during the race, do not worry about the outcome. Simply stick to your race plan and just be prepared to enjoy the experience.”