Now in its eighth year, the Port Macquarie Running Festival is held annually on the stunning NSW Mid North Coast. The success from previous years has seen numbers grow to over a thousand competitors since the inaugural event.
This event is ideal for all abilities, from those who have been training hard and want to achieve a personal best to people who would like to see how they fare in one of the less arduous categories. Here’s a rundown of how the event works, the history of the festival and how you can get involved.
All about the Port Macquarie running festival
For the past seven years, the Port Macquarie Running Festival has been an enormous success and 2019 will be no exception. With a range of different events catered to all levels and abilities, this is the perfect opportunity to get your running shoes on. Whether you want to enjoy the 3km IMF #WalkSweatInspire or push yourself to finish the challenging Treble Breakwall Buster, there is something for everyone. Even the kids can enjoy the Newcastle Permanent 3km Kids Fun Run.
Due to the huge growth of the Port Macquarie Running Festival, this year will see the event held over two days. Since it was first launched, entrant numbers have grown to over a thousand and early registrations indicate 2019 will be another bumper year.
All runners receive a medallion on completion of their event. Those who have the guts to finish the Treble Breakwall Buster will find their names on the event honour roll. Locals and out-of-towners alike will enjoy the scenery; all events take runners down the vibrantly coloured Port Macquarie Breakwall.
The autumn timing of the festival means the weather is usually spectacular (fingers crossed for 2019!) and there is nothing better than a nice dip in the beautiful waters of Port Macquarie after a run.
Why running is good for you
Get involved with the sport! The Port Macquarie Running Festival is an excellent opportunity to get some exercise with one of the most simple methods out there.
There are so many great reasons to start running:
- Weight Loss: As a high-level cardio exercise, running is the single best method for weight loss when combined with a healthy diet. It may not seem like it, but running works out most parts of your body. While it feels as though your legs do most of the work, running is excellent for core strength and weight loss around the middle. While you run, your abs have to work to keep you upright almost as much as your legs work to keep you moving.
- General Fitness: Nothing keeps you in good health like running. It increases strength and stamina as well as lung capacity. This workout keeps you fit and strong so everyday tasks like climbing stairs and carrying groceries (or children) feel easier.
- Mental Health: Any exercise is excellent for your mental health and running is one of the easiest and most accessible. A quick run will increase your endorphin levels, leaving you with a sense of wellbeing and overall happiness. Studies have shown over and over that exercise is beneficial to all sorts of mental health problems, from depression to ADHD. Even if you have no mental health problems, running will still help you feel good.
Running is also budget friendly as you don’t have to pay for equipment and the associated maintenance costs. All you need are some comfortable clothes and a decent pair of shoes.
Should you be running?
Pretty much everyone can run but there are a few things to consider. If you have an injury or problems with bone density, it’s probably best you avoid this activity. Those who are sick or seriously fatigued won’t benefit from running and should consider a walking event instead (with permission from their doctor).
If you are just starting out, don’t attempt a marathon! This extended event requires a great deal of training and practice. Some people can cross the finish line of a marathon ‘off the couch’ but they will pay for their efforts over the following days, feeling exhausted and very sore. Doing a long run without training can also lead to injuries like muscle strains or stress fractures.
When you’re building your strength on the track or trail, set realistic goals. Not everyone is made to be a marathon runner so find the level that works for you.
What to do before you start running
If you are planning to start seriously running, it won’t hurt to nip in to see your GP. Get a general check-up and talk to your doctor about your plans. Odds are he or she will be happy to help and pleased to give you the go ahead. If there are any issues though, it is best to know beforehand so you can take measures and avoid serious risks.
The right gear
When it comes to running gear the number of products on the market can be overwhelming.
Compression shirts, leggings, sneakers, lotions, the list goes on. In reality, you don’t need much to get started. First and foremost you do need a good pair of running shoes. A good sports store will help you find a pair that fits you well without breaking the budget. They should be snug but not tight and above all comfortable. You will be making them work!
When it comes to clothing there is one basic rule; avoid cotton. It’s heavy to run in when it gets wet. Go for light, synthetic fabrics or silks. Compression gear is designed to support your muscles and improve your post-run recovery. Make the investment if it’s what you want but it isn’t strictly necessary. Light and comfortable clothes will do the trick.
There are plenty of gadgets and bits and pieces you can invest in and many are very helpful. A sports watch is a great way to track your exercise. Armbands for your phone free up your hands while you listen to music or podcasts.
For the Port Macquarie Running Festival, there is one mandatory extra; sunscreen. Cover your exposed skin before you set off to avoid coming home very red and sorry for yourself.
Port Macquarie Running Festival: How to warm up
One of the best and most efficient ways to warm up before a run is a simple walk. Walking prepares the body to run by taking it through very similar motions and raising the temperature of your muscles. It will help to send a message to your brain that you are about to get going. A three to five-minute walk should be enough.
For a good run, stretching is the other essential warm-up. The old style of static stretching, holding your muscle in a fixed position for 30 seconds or so, is no longer considered the best for running warm-ups. Sports scientists now recommend dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching means that you move while you stretch. Lunges, knee lifts, butt kicks and even skipping can be great dynamic stretches. Find the ones that work for you and do ten reps of each before you set off on your Port Macquarie Running Festival challenge.
How to develop a good running technique
Like so many things in life, it may take a little practice to get running just right. There are a few tips that you can follow, to set you on the right course.
- Keep your head up: Don’t be tempted to let your head slump or to stare at your feet as you run. Watching the path ten to twenty metres in front of you is better running form. This is also much safer if any sudden obstacles appear!
- Keep your arms low: It is common to lift your arms high to your chest as you start to feel the strain. This tenses the muscles in your neck and shoulders, as well as shortening your stride. Keep your arms at around waist level and your hands relaxed and loose.
- Point your feet where you want to go: Running with your feet at an angle is an easy way to cause injuries. If it is difficult for you to run with straight feet naturally, you may need to practice for short stretches at a time until it becomes natural.
- Stand straight and keep your shoulders down: It can be all too easy to let that posture slip as you tire but this can cause muscle strain to your back and shoulders. Check your posture as you run and keep upright. Make sure your shoulders don’t bunch up to your ears. This can also cause unwanted tension and discomfort after your run.
- Breathe! Don’t hold your breath while you’re running and try to take deeper breaths instead of panting to give your body the oxygen it needs.
How to prevent injury
If you follow the tips above, there is no reason that you should be injured after taking part in the Port Macquarie Running Festival. Make sure to warm up and to keep good form and you should be fine.
Remember to be aware of your limits and not to push too hard. It is great to work to beat PBs and to increase your abilities but don’t get too far ahead of yourself during the event or you may end up finishing the day on a stretcher.
The Port Macquarie Running Festival is designed to be a fun, friendly event which brings the community together and encourages people to get moving.
Make running fun!
Running doesn’t have to be a boring or monotonous exercise. There are many ways to spice things up a little and add variety.
- Listen to headphones: Music can be a great motivator for runners and can help pass the time. Some great, energetic tracks you love can help you keep pace and stay in a positive frame of mind. Music is not the only option these days though. With literally thousands of podcast and audiobooks available online, you can finish Harry Potter, listen to comedy or enjoy a fitness podcast. Whatever your preference, running doesn’t have to be silent.
- Run with a buddy: It doesn’t have to be a race. Take it at a nice slow pace and you can reap the benefits of exercise and a great time with a friend. Running need not be solitary, in fact, in the Port Macquarie Running Festival it will be anything but! Enjoy yourself and socialise while you run. Or, conversely, make it a challenge. If you have a buddy at a similar level, see who will win. You could even make a friendly wager: loser buys drinks.
- Enjoy the view: You won’t find many better places to run than Port Macquarie. Enjoy the historic town, with its beautiful waterways and stunning scenery as you jog to the finish.
- Let your imagination run wild: Maybe there are zombies behind you, maybe the lost love of your life is at the finish line. It can be fun to make your run into a game to keep yourself going. There is even an app called Zombies Run!, which will encourage you to escape the living dead.
Bronwyn’s tips for beginner runners
Our Graphic Designer Bronwyn is an avid runner and frequents the Port Macquarie Park Run most Saturday mornings. Bronny – as she is known around here – has participated in the infamous City to Surf (not for the faint of heart) as well as the very quirky Bent Spoke Australia Day Ride in Canberra. Bron was proud to complete the 5km “Fun Run” as part of the 2017 Running Festival.
This Sunday Bron will stepping it up a notch and tackling the 10km leg of the Port Macquarie Running Festival. Good luck Bronny! We asked her to give us some of her top tips for beginner runners, so here they are:
- Never ever skip the warm-up, stretching or cooling down. This is really important to avoid injury.
- Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. If you feel pain, slow down or stop – again, you don’t want to end up with an injury and unable to exercise while it heals (trust me, I know from experience).
- Stay hydrated. Not just with water, but also by replacing the electrolytes in your body. You might not know that the more water you drink, the more electrolytes you also need to put back in as you’re essentially watering your electrolytes down.
- Running with a crowd, such as participating in Park Run, pushes you harder, especially if you are competitive in your nature.
- If you’re doing an event like the Port Macquarie Running Festival, find someone near you who is going the speed you want to go. This is referred to as a ‘pacer’. Concentrate on that person and use them as a gauge to help you keep your own speed and consistency.
Where to run in Port Macquarie
For locally-based runners, the Port Macquarie Running Festival is not the only opportunity to practice their sport. Port Macquarie provides many great opportunities to get out and get moving.
The area abounds with rainforest and national parks, all of which provide many tracks suitable for running. There is a fantastic run along the coastal walk that will take you up to the stunning lighthouse and back. Port Macquarie also holds a weekly 5km park run for anyone who wants to participate. To take part, simply show up at the break wall on Saturday morning at 7:00 am. There is plenty of easy running through town and along the break wall and of course, there are almost countless beaches for soft sand running.
Whether you’re set on taking part in the Port Macquarie Running Festival or just looking to start running to keep fit, Port Macquarie is the place to be!
After the event, why not stop in at the Westport Club? We’ll be welcoming runners who have done their best and are ready for a well-deserved meal and drink! Stop in at Hastings Coffee Co. for breakfast and a coffee or visit one of our bars or restaurants.
If you’re a spectator, The Westport Club is a fantastic vantage point for the 5km, the 10km, the Treble Breakwall Buster and the half-marathon as the path runs straight past us! Pop in for a coffee at our takeaway window or dine in for breakfast and you’ll be able to watch the runners go by from the comfort of your table!