How To: Train for a Running Race

I am horrible at following directions. It’s a combination of my inability to pay attention for any length of time, and my predisposition for wanting to “figure it out” on my own. This character flaw causes many messes in the kitchen, avoidable mistakes at work, and a lot of grief for my poor husband.

But, I am trying. There are so many things that I am looking forward to getting better at: guitar, Spanish, cooking, writing, biking, swimming, running…racing. All of these activities require discipline, determination and direction. In other words, it’s time to get focused.

In two short weeks, I will have my first opportunity to participate in a running race. And though I have consistently ran for the last, hmmm, 7 years (woah!), I have never, ever trained for a race. Annnd have yet to train for this one…oops. But it’s not too late to make some changes to my diet, my workouts, my routine. And so begins the arduous task (at least for me) of researching the best way to prepare my body for my February 9th race. The below is what I have found most helpful:

  • Training is all about building endurance, not jumping in over your head from the get-go. (a little late for this, but I do have a solid mileage foundation to build on)
  • Intervals are a great way to practice pacing and pushing yourself. (I have also found these to be a challenge that keeps me motivated and interested on a long run)
  • Rest and recovery are just as vital to training as the long runs are. (not my forte, but I do find ways to stay active without running on weekends, to give my legs a break)
  • Cross-training (biking or swimming) and strength-training improve running efficiency. (I love that Brian gets me outside and moving, a great change of pace)
  • Tapering a week out is critical to preparation for the race. (so hard to do, hopefully I can stick to it!)
  • Hydration is not something to start at the last-minute, but weeks out. (I am already trying to drink more and more water)
  • Eat well, eat often. (Brian will tell you I am a horrible snacker, and when I do snack, it’s on empty calories; but with intensified training, I am learning to listen to my body’s needs which include complex carbohydrates, protein, and fats)
  • Setting a goal is critical to motivation. Whether the goal is a “best time” or simply finishing, it makes the race more meaningful. (I am looking to beat my one and only 15k time for the race in February)
  • Have fun! (this is my favorite part, though I’ve never done a running race, I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the triathlons I’ve participated in, and I know this one will be no different)

This article has really helped me feel prepared, while this one provided a great training schedule (though I have not adhered to it in its entirety). I liked this one, too, for its simple approach to nutrition while training. I have modified the tips and schedule for the 15k I will be doing in a few weeks, but am also trying to stick to them as much as possible considering my half marathon is coming up in March!

I am excited for this new challenge, and look forward to taking a disciplined approach to accomplishing my goals in both races. Cheers to following directions and accomplishing goals!

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