It’s been an unpredictable year for races in general, but the need for structure, a reason to move and of course, that daily dose of Vitamin D is at an all-time high. There are still a handful of races left on the books for 2020 and many more for 2021 that are ready to be conquered (some even virtual if you’re more comfortable with that!)
Running, and specifically running a race in my opinion is one of the greatest testaments to proving to yourself how incredibly capable you are. Before you set your sights on race day, here are a few training tips to keep in mind.
1. Have a plan BEFORE you commit
Training is going to take time! Like, the time you thought you didn’t have before kind of time. I would recommend taking a good look at what you’ve already got on your plate and decide if it’s in the cards to add one more thing to your already busy schedule. Before committing, understand that you are essentially picking up a part-time, non-paid gig.
Have I scared you off yet? If not.. continue on!
2. SIGN UP
This may seem like a silly, and obvious tip, however! I can’t tell you the number of times I have internally “committed” to a race and as the months came and went, so did the race. If you don’t put the money down and truly COMMIT, the likelihood of you staying motivated will lesson and lesson overtime. So put your money where your mouth is and sign up for that dang race!
3. Tell and/or train with someone
Speaking of commitment, it is important that you’re not the only one holding yourself accountable. Especially if this is your first go-around. I promise you this, there will be tough days, you will have terrible training runs, and likely you will want to quit (maybe more than once). But having someone, even if it’s your 500 facebook friends, in your corner, will better equip you to stay on track and accomplish your goal.
4. Get shoes that fit
Listen, I’m all for a cute pair of sneakers and I love myself a good deal. However, your running shoes are not something you should skimp out on. This is not just a suggestion, this is a necessity. It could be the difference between running in “style” and running at all. If you don’t have a pair of shoes that are suited for your particular foot and the way in which you run, you are putting yourself at a higher risk of injury. Before hitting the pavement, I’d highly suggest going to your local running store (Gazelle Sports does an amazing job!) and have them evaluate your stride so that you can run in comfort and at ease knowing that you are being fully supported.
Keep in mind that there are many (changing) factors that affect your gait and the type of shoes that you need including your weight, muscular strengths, range of motion, balance, stride habits, efficiency, and speed. Finding YOUR best shoe is a personal and ongoing challenge. Experiment to find what works and know that as your fitness and running characteristics change, your shoes can and should change as well.
5. Use a guide as a guideline
There are a ton of amazing training guides out there, some paid, some free. Do your research and find one that best suits you, your needs and most importantly, your goals. As important as I feel it is to have some sort of baseline to take you along this journey, I think it’s equally important to encourage you using said guide as just that, a guide. Training, much like your shoes (go back to tip 4 if that one didn’t sink in), is not a one-size fits all. Customize it to fit your schedule, fitness level and goals. Are you looking to qualify for Boston, set a personal record or are you simply out to cross the finish line? All of these questions are important to ask yourself before picking and committing to a specific training regimen.
Download the 10-week training guide that I am using below!
6. Fuel your body properly
This goes for both food and (especially) water! I am no dietitian and I’ll only give a brief overview, but I think that it’s important to dive a little bit deeper into what you’re putting in your body, especially when you are about to ask it for more than you’ve potentially ever done before.
A few things to note:
- You will burn roughly 100 calories for every mile you run, depending on your size. If you run four miles, you’ll burn about 400 calories more than you would have if you hadn’t exercised.
- A good ratio to aim for during training season: 60-70 percent of calories coming from carbohydrates (grains, pasta, bread, etc.), 20-30 percent from fat sources (oils, avocados, nuts, etc.), and 10-15 percent of calories from protein (fish, meat, chicken, beans, etc.)
- To optimize your training, when you eat is almost as important as what you eat. Aim to refuel your body within an hour of finishing your run (ideally within 30 minutes).
- The general rule of thumb for fluid consumption during runs is 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes. (In addition to the recommended 8 ounces of water you should already be drinking daily)
7. Listen to your body
If this is something you’ve never put your body through before, know that your body will be feeling ways that it’s never felt before. Soreness, normal. Fatigue, normal. Hunger, normal. Pain, NOT normal.
Our bodies are pretty darn good at telling us exactly how they are holding up. It is up to us to not only listen to it, but respond and react accordingly. Tired? Rest. Thirty? Drink. Tight? Stretch. (I hate to say it’s that easy, but it can be that easy) I hope that you not only use this journey as a way to prove to yourself how strong and capable you are but also as a means to uncover how in tune you can be with the body that gives you the strength to cross any finish line you set your mind to.
Carry on, Warriors.