28-year-old IT executive Marcus Ong is one of Singapore’s top runners, with many accolades to his name. His most recent victory was emerging as champion at the Stadium Run last month. Organized by the Singapore Athletic Association, this was a 4.4km run (five rounds around the National Stadium) and Marcus had completed it in 13 minutes and 40 seconds. (It was 4.4km for him rather than 4.25km because Marcus had been running in the outer lane).
At the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) this year, Marcus will be completing in the Ekiden team category – and hopes to retain his title from last year as well as to better his timing. In the same event in 2013, Marcus and his team had come in champion, clocking 28 minutes and 45 seconds for his own leg (of 8.5km).
With the 2014 edition of the SCMS taking place this coming Sunday, here are six last minute tips from Marcus on how to deal with pre-race anxiety – which is a common problem amongst many runners.
Don’t be so ambitious. Set your goals honestly.
This applies regardless of whether you are running the 10km distance or the full marathon. Before you start the race, don’t be too ambitious such as hoping to run 5km within 15min 20secs when your personal best is only 22mins. You will never achieve it. Instead, just relax and stay focused, and most importantly, let your legs do the work.
Sleep extra hours to counter race anxiety.
Many runners usually can’t sleep very well the night before the big race – regardless of whether you are a first-timer, a seasoned runner or an elite runner. And this mostly happens because you may be too excited or nervous about the run. The only way to counter that is to go to sleep earlier than usual, about a couple of days before the race. For example, if you sleep six hours a night then sleep about 10 hours a night for two nights before the run. This will ensure that you are well rested on race day.
Do your homework before the race
Always ensure that you do your homework properly – for example, like deciding which shoes or clothes to wear on race day, what to eat on the morning of the race, what energy gels to use and so on. Preparing these in advance can save you from race anxiety. In fact, half of the battle is won if you plan your race properly.
Keep your mind busy
Don’t keep on thinking about the race. Instead, go and enjoy playing your favourite games or watch the movie that you’ve always wanted to catch. Doing so will kill anxiety before the race – and give you something else to focus your mind on, so that you will be more relaxed on race day.
Don’t think about it. Just relax and let your body do the talking.
Timing and position is always very important to runners. But regardless of whether you are aiming for a podium finish, a new personal best, or simply to complete the race within the cut-off time, stop thinking about these as they will only make you more anxious about the race. Instead, try to be as relaxed as you can. As the body responds well when you are feeling relaxed and at ease, this will translate into a better race performance too.
Run without expectations
Many runners have high expectations of themselves when they take part in races. As a result, they put plenty of pressure and stress on themselves during the race – and this may even kill their enthusiasm for running. So instead of stressing yourself up over running, why not simply go out there and enjoy the race – and you may even end up doing much better than you expected.
A final message from Marcus Ong…
I would like to thank family members, fans, sponsors and friends who are there to support me wherever I race. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do it .I always thank God too, for making this journey a learning curve. After all, I only live once, so I want to make the most of what I have.