How to Train for Your First Race
over 1 year ago
You are on the start line, surrounded by fellow runners. A chill is in the air, your shoes are knotted and double knotted. You check the time - two minutes to start. Announcers come over the speaker instructing you to take your place. You are jostled by similar individuals stretching and jogging in place - your running bib is securely fastened. Adrenaline rushes as you hear the starting gun release - and you’re off!
Whether it's in a 5k, 10k, 15k, or more, that moment at the starting line is what you prepare for from the moment you sign up. In signing up for a race, you are not only signing up for a running event, but a better version of yourself. That’s because you don’t show up the day of expecting greatness. You train.
This may be something you already answered in signing up for a race. Maybe you wanted something to motivate you to move. Maybe you wanted some guaranteed alone time amid busy schedules. Maybe you figured you would just give it a try as a new form of aerobic exercise, with proven health benefits in improving lung capacity and muscle flexibility. Whatever the reason, running is one of the best ways to support cardiovascular and overall physical and mental health.
Why Train for a Race?
It all comes down to preparation. While some may be able to muster up the endurance to complete a half marathon with no long runs, it is not going to be your best. Training not only increases mobility, endurance and flexibility, it also fortifies the mental stamina needed to complete the race. Training will ultimately carry you further than race-day adrenaline ever will.
How Do I Train?
For training purposes, it is important to consider a few factors. How long is the race? How physically fit am I right now? Where is the race taking place? What is the climate like?
Training for a race in the mountains during the winter is going to look a lot different than by the beach in the sun. In the same way, training for different forms of races requires strategic thinking about how to best accomplish the race.
Make a Plan
One of the most important things to consider is what is your goal? If it is something to work towards that keeps you active, that’s great! But if you have a specific timeframe (ie sub-2 hr half marathon, or sub-20 5k) these are details that should guide and motivate you throughout your training journey. Many running websites will direct you to a race time calculator. Consider doing a baseline run in similar conditions to see where you would be if you maintained that pace over an extended period of time. Then train according to that time.
A good training schedule may look different than if you are someone who runs regularly. The difference between running and setting up for a race is that you intentionally devise a schedule that boosts speed, endurance, and overall fitness. An effective training routine normally includes sprints, incline work, and one long run for the week.
Take Rest Seriously
One of the most crucial parts of the race is the rest routine. Along with the hard work, giving your body time to recover and restore glycogen levels is imperative to a good work routine. Making sure to get good rest is another way to make sure you are race-ready.
According to Olympian Jeff Galloway, one of the best ways to train for longer races is to enact the run-walk method. Although this may seem counterintuitive, running then walking can be a great way to build endurance. For beginners, this may look like running for a minute or so, then walking for a minute to accomplish your running goal. For more experienced runners, running five or so minutes and using a minute to walk can help build endurance. Try walking when you are not tired for the best results.
Invest in Proper Gear
Running requires good support. With the advancement of running technology, the market is more primed than ever to make sure your body has the best support. Especially for those embarking on longer distances, investing in a good running shoe that fits your body can keep joints safe and prevent injuries. Try your local running store as a place to get your foot fitted properly, or research online depending on your arch. Along with this, you may want to consider a step counter or exercise watch to help keep track of your progress and motivate you as you go.
When figuring out how to best train for a race, it is important to keep strengthening in mind. Targeting areas of the body that running does not normally use not only decreases the threat of injury, but allows the body to be best prepared for the race ahead. While training for races through different runs is important, you will only be fully prepared if your whole body is ready to go.
Ideas for Strength Training:
Target Certain Areas: As with any goal, it's good to have a schedule. Incorporating strengthening into your routine even three times a week can have a noticeable impact on your training. Within the schedule, you can have days set to target the legs, and one or more days targeting the upper body. This way, you are incorporating different muscle groups into your training.
Cross Train: When establishing a training routine, it is important to consider other aerobic exercises as well. Cycling and swimming are both great forms of aerobic training that expand a much-needed lung capacity while also working different muscles. Plus, these workouts are easy on the joints, which means your body will thank you later.
Strong to the Core: The core is a runner’s foundation. You are just as strong as your core, so making sure to target the core either in HIIT workouts, yoga, or simple crunches can ensure you are in the best shape before the race. Incorporating fun, different workouts can be a great way to ensure that each workout doesn’t feel like work.
Supplement Your Run
Sometimes your body needs a boost. Training requires more energy than usual. For natural formulas proven to boost mobility and increase energy, try BUBS Naturals Collagen to enhance any running routine.