Earlier this year, I signed up for The Colour Run. My intentions to train for the event never quite materialised, which I almost immediately regretted when the day finally came.
While it ended up being a lot of fun, it would have been even better and less painful had I actually bothered to take my preparation seriously.
“Even though a fun run is a challenge that is achievable for many people, lots of new runners get sidetracked by the ‘high’ of signing up to an event and sadly, they fail to prepare,” says Neil Russell, VIP trainer for Isowhey Sports and Owner of Atleta.
This can prevent you from finishing, cause fluctuating energy levels or even injury.
Here are six things you can do to make the process and experience that little bit easier, regardless of your fitness level.
1. Prepare your body beforehand
That doesn't have to mean running crazy distances every day, but it's important to ensure you're active and prepare your body for the event well in advance. For shorter runs, two or three months in advance is more than enough time.
Russell recommends doing lunges, but instead of doing them slowly, try to do them quickly and include some bottom half pulses. Your legs are moving quickly when you run, so strengthening your leg and glute muscles is key. Squats are also great for this. (Post continues after gallery.)
For events less than 10 kilometres, once or twice weekly runs can suffice if you have a good fitness level. Just make sure you've run the same distance before the event so you know how your body copes and recovers. Do this by steadily building up your distance with each run.
"Include hill sprints into your training program. Try to find a hill that you can sprint up for 45 seconds to one minute, because it is very possible that you will encounter hills during the event and you don’t want to show up unprepared," says Russell.
2. Don't try to over train at the last minute
"One of the most common mistakes people make is to over train in the week leading up to the run - your body needs time to rest and recover to help avoid stress injuries. You also don't want to exhaust yourself," says Russell.
3. It's not all about running
It's also important to work on your core and technique so you can maintain good posture on the day.
"Running with bad posture can become very uncomfortable 20 kilometres in and poor technique will be exposed for every stride you take over 10 kilometres," says Russell.
4. Carb loading isn't always a good idea
While eating carbohydrates the night before can give you extra energy, don't drastically change your diet the day before the event. This could cause indigestion or fluctuating energy levels, which is the last thing you want.
If you want to tweak your usual eating habits, make sure you trial any changes in advance and get your body used to them. (Post continues after gallery.)
5. Prepare supplies
You'll need more than your matching t-shirt and sweatband on the day. Make sure you wear shoes and clothes that you have run in before, to avoid chafing, and pack plenty of energy bars, bottled water and even a plain sandwich if you're not focusing on a particular finish time. Sunscreen and a hat are obviously non-negotiable.
For longer distances, Russell recommends bringing water and an Electrolyte Formula, which helps you to rehydrate quickly.
6. Have fun
This is a fun run, not a marathon — the key objective is in the name. The atmosphere is meant to be fun, suitable for all fitness levels, and you're all there to motivate rather than race each other.
Most of these events only happen once a year, so do it with a good group of friends or family and enjoy the experience.
Have you done a fun run before? What do you like about them?