Running season is well and truly underway. As the weather slowly getting warmer, there's never been a more perfect time to get out and hit the pavement ahead of summer. And with the City2Sea just around the corner, what better time to begin than now.
While there are plenty of hot tips and tricks to get you mentally prepared for the annual 15km run between the Melbourne CBD and St Kilda, help in the form of footwear and race gear can go make a huge difference on the day.
Best foot forward
Erin Todd, a sports podiatrist at Sydney East Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics (SESMO) can't emphasise enough the importance of choosing the right footwear.
"As a runner the most important equipment you have is your running shoes," she says.
"Wearing the correct shoe can make running a lot more comfortable and enjoyable and if you get your shoe choice wrong it can lead to the risk of injury and pain. Each individual running shoe will support a different foot type, correct fitting and the right shoe type for you is key."
This means looking out for three main features:
- Comfort, obviously
- Fit – running shoes aren't meant to be too loose but they should also be roomy enough to accommodate swelling
- And compensate for physical characteristics like high arches or rolling ankles
According to Todd there are three main types of feet: a pronated foot (rolling in) a supinated foot (rolling out) and a neutral foot.
If the shoe fits
Feet with normal pronation would do best in a stability shoe that offers moderate pronation control such as the Asics Nimbus or the Mizuno Enigma; runners who overpronate (rolls inward) should choose motion-control shoes that control pronation such the Nike Zoom Structure. Runners who underpronate (roll outward) should get a neutral-cushioned shoe such as the Brooks Glycerin to encourage a more natural foot motion.
But what about the top half?
Top shape up top
A common side effect experienced by novice runners is the dreaded 'bloody nipple'. Caused by chafing from shirts, it's a painful experience that's easily avoided by choosing the right running singlets.
Tops made in quick dry fabrics are common, but often the loose mesh weave is the root cause of the problem. Instead, look for a top made from ultra-soft fabrics that, while still wick sweat away, are gentle enough they won't cause irritation.
One fabric that has been embraced by the running world is merino wool. It's lightweight feel and antibacterial properties make it perfect for the most sensitive of skins.
It's the beat
Music's impact on performance is well documented. In fact, the edge we gain from music is considered that effective that in 2007, US track and field banned personal gadgets like iPods and MP3s to prevent runners from getting an unfair advantage.
Choose comfortable earpieces that won't irritate or dislodge - there's nothing worse than hitting a high peak in a favourite track only to suddenly hear nothing but your own laboured breathing.
But what about the mental prep?
The prospect of running the City2Sea's 15km length can seem terrifying if not straight out impossible no matter how hi-tech your gear is. But David Gething, author of Relentless and most recent winner of the World Marathon challenge, has some pretty simple advice: "Just get out there and run."
Gething is the first to admit that he's not a "natural runner". He took up the sport to lose weight ahead of the birth of his first daughter. But what started out as a health kick soon became a test of endurance and perseverance that has went on to become a lifestyle.
Just do it
"I gotta say, you read those books about those guys who go out running and it's a breeze – the clouds part and doves fly over and everything is sweet. But that wasn't me," he says, laughing.
"For me, it was huffing and puffing the whole way and running for like a kilometre and then walking for 500 metres. Then I would try and make the run 1.5km and slowly i would try and make it longer and longer."
Now, 35 kilograms lighter and two world records later, Gething is adamant that anyone can be a runner if they put their mind to it. You just need to keep at it.
"The more you run the more your body becomes efficient over time," he advises.
"I don't think I'm naturally a great runner, I've got quite flat feet, and that caused some problems for me at first but then I found the right shoes for me and slowly building up my strength. It was more about hours on the road than specific technique."
The Sunday Age City2Sea, presented by Westpac, is on Sunday, November 20. To enter or donate to charity, see thecity2sea.com.au.