Be it a mile, 5K, or marathon, set yourself up for success and start with these simple steps:
- Start with a training plan, source knowledgeable outlets and keep to your plan. When you start altering the plan that is when you run into issues on race day. There are tons of training plans out there to get you up to your mileage goal safely and in a set amount of time. I like the options here: www.popsugar.com/fitness/How-Train-Race-22493355.
- If you aren’t an avid racer, start small and build up to your ultimate goal down the road. If you haven’t run a 5k, don’t schedule yourself for a marathon. A big part of the battle for me on race day is confidence; I need to ‘know’ I can finish the race. If you are training for a long race, say a half-marathon or full marathon, incorporate shorter races like a 10k into your training plan so you can get comfortable with the race day jitters that will naturally come. If you have experienced the race day jitters, they won’t surprise you when the big race comes.
- Keep a healthy balance. Don’t drop the rest of your regular life for race training. Don’t stop the kids carpool or date night to add in time for training. Take the kids with your or go on a jog with that special someone. Run the beach or run to a casual dinner spot or pop the kids in your jogging stroller and hit the trail. I have never seen a training plan that recommends running everyday so use your “off days” for your other commitments.
- Watch your food and water intake. If you step up your caloric output you probably need to step up your caloric intake. No, we don’t mean hit the drive thru, find what foods makes you feel the best and more energized before and after your runs and fuel up on that. I know I can’t eat a heavy meal prior to a workout but I also can’t skip food, I will quickly fatigue and get frustrated with a poor run. Hydration is so important, if you aren’t going on a long run you don’t need to bring water with you, but make sure you start the run hydrated and drink water after. On a hot day you may need to bring water even on a short run.
- Duh! It sounds obvious but you would be surprised how many people skip it and pay the price later. You may not feel the consequences of not stretching right away but months and years down the road the consequences sneak up on you. Yoga is a great way to ‘schedule’ your stretch. Find a class that you like and keep that appointment with yourself. I like Yin Yoga or Deep Stretch Yoga. It is a slow paced class that forces you to hold hip-opening poses. No, stretching while you wait at red lights on your run doesn’t count- you need to be stretching before and after a run, not just for the thirty seconds in the middle of your run. Trust me, one day you will thank me if you stretch.
- Gear up. You don’t need to bust the bank but a few good pieces of equipment are key! Good shoes, a hat and sunscreen are a must. If you are running regularly the investment in a few pieces of quality equipment will be worth the investment. Get properly fitted for a good pair of shoes, your feet, legs and back will thank you.
- Celebrate your achievements! When you reach a goal, a distance or conquer that hill for the first time, be proud. Sharing your achievements with your friends, family or a running group can keep you motivated and working hard.