How to prepare for a fun run (even if you don't think running is fun)
Updated: Jul 28, 2018
Sunday, August 12 marks City2Surf — billed as not only the biggest fun run in Australia, but the world.
More than 80,000 participants are expected to tackle the 14km route, which starts in Sydney's CBD and ends at Bondi Beach… with the feared and infamous Heartbreak Hill about halfway through.
City2Surf ambassador and fitness expert Tim Robards says first-timers shouldn't stress about the hills, since the race has so many other things going for it.
"The energy of so many people together, smell of spring around the corner, the beautiful sights of the city, past the harbour and into Bondi Beach to name a few!" he tells Coach.
Fellow City2Surf ambassador and Today presenter Sylvia Jeffreys, who's running to raise money for the charity Youngcare, agrees it's the "party vibes" that set City2Surf apart from a standard jog.
"From DJs to rock bands and house parties, there are so many fabulous distractions along the route that help take your mind off the struggle of the hills," she tells Coach.
She admits the only part of the race she's dreading is Heartbreak Hill — which she's running up once a week to prepare for event day. A City2Surf regular, she advises newcomers to take it slow up the infamous obstacle.
"That’s not the last hill you’ll climb," she cautions.
Every year there always seem to be people who boast they're attempting City2Surf without bothering to train. If that's you, it is possible to finish the race without any prep… but it won't be pleasant.
"I would suggest making sure you are hydrated prior, maybe even have a Hydrolyte beforehand," Robards cautions the untrained.
"Don’t over-exert yourself on the day — walking is still a respectable way to finish," he adds. "A dip in the ocean cures everything, otherwise a good Epsom salt bath, a massage and a good stretch doesn’t go astray."
If you haven't yet signed up for City2Surf, or you have but haven't started training, it's not too late to get started — just make sure you begin gradually.
"Jumping the gun and overtraining will take you out before you even get there," says Robards, who says he treated many who made that mistake while he worked as a chiropractor.
"If your body is not conditioned you can’t expect to all of a sudden be able to run kilometre after kilometre every day."
Robards recommends starting out by running a comfortable distance.
"Then every second day try and either do the same distance and time but add hills, then later in the week try and do the original but take off time," he says. "Vary up the time and inclinations to keep challenging the body and keep it guessing."
Also consider tagging along with a running group or a coach who can give pointers about your running technique.
"Mid/forefoot running with a higher cadence of around 160 to 180bpm is what I usually recommend," Robards says.
And definitely don't make the classic newbie mistake of switching up your routine on race day — which is no time for experimentation.
"I suggest not doing anything drastically different, especially when it comes to food [come August 12]," Robards warns. "Don’t all of a sudden have three coffees or a 12-egg omelette if you’re not used to it! Don’t try and change your running style or buy new shoes right before the big day."
He adds that he's been using an Apple Watch to help his training: mapping his runs, tracking his heartbeat and listening to music without needing to take his iPhone with him.
"I loooove music for training however on race day I actually like to hear what’s going on around me and take it a ll in," he says. "My go-to when [training] gets hard is Rocky — 'Going the Distance', but I’ve also got plenty of Daft Punk and Guns and Roses on there!
Robards has shared his playlist on Apple Music here.
By Sam Downing