Tips for Overseas Running

Today, Singaporeans are flocking overseas to run in droves.

For example, in the Gold Coast Marathon, Australia, one of the most popular running destinations for Singaporean runners, there were 24 Singaporean participants in 2007 but this figure shot up to 311 in 2012.

Singapore runners are heading overseas to run, in droves. [Photo from]

Singapore runners are heading overseas to run, in droves.
[Photo from]

Personally for me, I ran my first overseas race – the Auckland Marathon (21.1km Category) in 2013, and that was a really memorable running experience for me – something that I will always remember. In fact I hope to go back there someday to tackle the full marathon route, when the opportunity arises.

In addition, other overseas marathons that I hope to run, also include the Sydney Marathon and the Gold Coast Marathon, both in Australia, as well as some of the World Marathon Majors, such as the London Marathon, New York Marathon and the Tokyo Marathon.

However, overseas races are a totally different ball game compared to local races. This is because you have to take note of things such as the weather and time zone differences, as well as language barriers, if any.

Here are some tips to help you out on your next overseas marathon race.

1. Consider what the weather is like there

Winter marathons are a totally different ball game to the tropical summer races in Singapore. [Photo from Daily Gazette]

Winter marathons are a totally different ball game to the tropical summer races in Singapore.
[Photo from Daily Gazette]

You will need to take note of what the weather is like at your final destination – this is especially important if the race you are running, will be in a cooler climate. For example, the Tokyo Marathon is typically a winter marathon and the temperatures during the race can typically fall into the single digit range on a thermometer – so jackets and thicker clothing will probably be necessary for runners from tropical climates such as Singapore.

2. Packing for the race

In case your baggage gets lost or delayed in arriving, you may want to consider putting your running essentials i.e. your shoes and necessary clothing, into your carry-on luggage rather than your suitcase – this is especially important if the race is taking place in one or two days’ time. You would rather be safe than sorry, after all.

3. Consider Time Zone differences

If the destination has a different time zone to where you come from, then it is important to allow your body to recover from the effects of jet lag. It would also help if you arrived a few days to a couple of weeks earlier to let yourself adapt to the differences. Arriving one day beforehand, will probably result in you not running a very good race especially if you are the type who has trouble falling asleep on the plane.

For example, the eight-hour time difference between Singapore and London may take some adapting to – and if you arrive the day before the race, it will most probably not be conducive to your training.

And upon arrival too, do not stress your body out too much – do some light exercises or a slow jog. But no hard training immediately – as your body will still be recovering from the effects of the jet lag.

4. Learn some Basic Phrases in the country where you are going

If the language at the destination place is not English, or something you are not familiar with, you may have trouble understanding it. So for example, try and learn some basic phrases in the language or perhaps download an app that will help you translate some basic words.

An example is if you are taking part in the Tokyo Marathon, which is held in Japan – and if you don’t know any Japanese, you may have trouble communicating with the locals there. So knowing some basic Japanese phrases may help in terms of navigating yourself around the country, not just during the race, but also throughout the rest of your stay there as well.

5. Do not try new foods prior to your race

If you typically don't eat deep fried insects, don't eat them before a race. [Photo from]

If deep fried insects are not part of your everyday diet, don’t eat them before a race.
[Photo from]

Try and stick as much as possible, with familiar foods in the days leading up to your race as you will not want to risk stomach problems or cases of food poisoning before the race. This is especially the case if you are going somewhere that you are not too familiar with the local cuisine. For example, in Thailand, deep-fried bugs and insects are a common street snack. If you have never eaten such insects before, do try and resist the temptation to try these before your run – or you may come to regret it. So stick with your boiled rice, eggs and soup, or whatever you are comfortable with.

After the race though, you can experiment with anything that you wish.

6. Familiarise yourself with transport to the start line

On race day, you will be waking up in the morning and will have to quickly get to the start line in time for the race. So make sure that you get familiar with how you are going to the start line.

This is important – sometimes runners prefer to pick a hotel to stay at, that is near the start line. Others choose a hotel near the finish line, if they are not at the same location. Know in advance, exactly how you are going to get to the race site in the morning – not on the race day itself.

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