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With the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon fast approaching, we asked Olympic long distance runner and Saucony Australia spokesperson, Benita Willis, to share her top ten tips for preparing for the race coming up this weekend.

1. Pace yourself
Having an idea of your starting pace is important to make sure you don’t burn out too fast. Don’t start too hard, especially as this course has some inclines and downhills.  The best trick is to try to keep an average speed throughout the race to ensure you reach the finish line.

2. Know your surroundings
Grab a map of the SMH Half Marathon course and take note of where all amenities are before the race, such as toilets and parking. And then plan your stops and where you’ll park. Also, put out your running kit the night before or even sleep in it so you don’t forget anything.

3. Don’t do all your runs too hard
In your training this week, it’s important to do some easy recovery runs to absorb harder sessions as pushing your body too hard may cause injury and in turn may result in you missing the race.

4. Mix up the surfaces you run on
This is important in order to minimise injury as your feet get used to the feel of different textures i.e. do some training on grass or trails as well as roads and footpaths. This will get you ready for the SMH half marathon which is run over different surfaces.

5. Break in your gear before this weekend
Make sure you do some training in the shoes you will wear in the race before the big day – there is nothing worse than blisters getting in your way and giving you pain on the day. My first choice for running shoes is always Saucony because their technology puts your foot in a more balanced and comfortable position, allowing for a more powerful and natural running stride.  This can make a huge difference for a distance such as 21.1km, which is the distance of the SMH half marathon.

5) Make sure you enjoy the process!
The race is not all about winning so make sure you have some fun too . The SMH Half Marathon’s track winds throughout the Botanic Gardens, Circular Quay and Pyrmont so you’re guaranteed fantastic views during your run, make sure to take them in!

 Olympic Marathon

Benita Willis is an Olympic long and short distant runner, representing Australia at World Championship level 25 times, including 4 Olympics (Sydney 2000 (5km), Athens 2004 (10km), Beijing 2008 (marathon), London 2012 (marathon).