Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Get ready for 5k

Published:Monday | January 19, 2015 | 1:00 AM

So you have made your resolution to exercise more this year. To follow through with that commitment you might have already signed up for your first road race event such as The Colour Me Happy Run on Saturday, January 24 to kick off your exploits. Not only is it the most 'colourful' race in Jamaica, the event benefits a very worthy cause - the construction of a basic school by Food For The Poor and Kind Hearts Foundation.

Certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist Kamila McDonald offers some great tips to prepare you for races like the Colour Me Happy 5K, which she will co-host. Follow these to ensure that you can have the most fun and enjoy the benefits of participating safely.

For people who are doing their first road race, what should they expect?

Colour Me Happy is a combination of some of the things I am most passionate about: fitness, fun and philanthropy. This 5K is not about the medals or how fast you finish. Instead, it's a celebration of health and happiness and is the perfect way to kick-start and ease into a regular schedule of 5Ks as part of your wellness regime.

How should you prepare the body in the period leading up to the race?

In the week leading up to the race, don't overdo the "preparation" where exercise is concerned. This is not the time to participate in any new and intense exercise. If the exercise is likely to leave your muscles sore for days because your body is not used to it, then it is best to wait until after the event to start that new regime.

Remember, runners prepare for months before a big race. Just like Rome which wasn't built in a day, your fitness won't be. Do light resistance training and go on walks and/or short runs that your body may already be accustomed to.

What should you eat during the week leading up to the race?

Keep hydrated drinking at least 2-3 litres of water every day. Coconut water is also a great way to keep hydrated and, more important, refresh and restore lost electrolytes during training and race day. Bananas are a great way to keep your potassium levels up to avoid leg cramping during training and the race. Remember to stay away from fried, fatty foods.

I'm a strong advocate for eating foods high in fibre. However, stay away from fibre-heavy foods for the days right before the event because they may cause you to feel bloated and gassy, especially if your overall fibre intake is usually low.

What is the most effective strategy for completing the race?

If this is your first 5K, don't overthink it and instead use this experience to gauge your fitness level and how well you manage the distance. We all have to start somewhere and everyone comes to the event at different fitness levels. The most important thing is to listen to your body. Walk when you need to walk. Stop, breathe and, of course, hydrate. Observe yourself and your body so you can use this as the starting point of your programme to get fitter, faster and stronger. The bottom line is to stay hydrated and listen to your body.

After completing the Colour Me Happy 5K route, don't forget to stretch!

For your ongoing exercise routine, take an inventory of how you feel after the walk or run, and adjust your follow-up exercise routine accordingly, varying the intensity based on how good or bad you feel, how much effort you exerted to reach the finish line and how challenging the event was overall.

Participating in Colour Me Happy, which is sponsored by WATA and CRANWata, helps to make fitness superfun, which is how it always should be! We'll be bursting with colour and burning calories! Can't wait!