Over the course of this training season I’ve been keeping notes on advice I would give to someone who is interested in training for any type of race. These tips are not just for marathoners, and can be helpful for first time runners, or those training for 10K and beyond. So here they are!
Start Slow – Decide what race you want to participate in and plan accordingly. If you’re a new runner, it’s unlikely you’ll be hitting the road 4x/week from the start. Rushing gets you nowhere so give your body a chance to adjust to new training and allow plenty of time to accomplish each workout.
Make Time for Recovery – Don’t rush your workouts or your recovery. Take time to stretch, foam roll, apply ice, etc. If you only have 10 minutes, that’s better than ignoring the muscles you worked so hard. Commercial breaks are a great way to sneak some extra mobility work in.
Fuel Yourself Properly- While running is touted as a great weight loss tool, losing weight should NOT be your focus, especially when training for longer distances. You can’t expect your body to perform well when you’re restricting calories. On the other hand, a 5K run doesn’t exactly warrant eating an entire large pizza. Increase your intake on long run days, and make sure you’re not running on empty!
Listen To Your Body – Just because the plan on your fridge claims you need to run two days in a row, if you are over tired or sore it’s okay to miss that run or move it. Pushing yourself too hard too often will not always work in your favor. Extra rest time will help your body recover and will likely make you have a better workout when you do go out.
Prepare For Setbacks – In a perfect world we would run/train freely and never have tight or strained muscles…but that’s not realistic! Be prepared to miss some time due to injuries, sickness, and travel. Do what’s necessary to get through it and recover fully to avoid more setbacks.
Make A Mantra – Come up with a line (or lines) you can repeat to yourself to control your breathing, pace, and stay calm. During hard parts of my long runs, or times where I feel overwhelmed about how far I need to run marathon day, I repeat things like “Slow and steady,” “All in stride,” “Keep moving forward.” Those words help me focus and deter the nagging worry I get.
Figure Out What Works – Over the years I have discovered what foods my body prefers before, during, and after running. I also prefer certain clothing for short vs long runs. If you’re trying something new (food or clothing wise), do it on a shorter run so you aren’t stuck being uncomfortable for long!
Total Body Training – Just because you are focusing on running doesn’t mean you should ignore working other muscles too. Strength training is important for runners as you need strong hips, hamstrings, calves and ankles, as well as core strength. Find a program that makes time to include workouts other than the necessary runs.
Sacrifices Will Be Made – Be ready to miss some social time because you have to run 20 miles the next day! My friends know I don’t do late Saturday nights often in the Summer because Sunday is my training day. I take part in what I can and have no problem moving my run for an important event (all about balance). Enjoy your social life but remember the commitment you’ve made. Make the changes needed in order to accomplish your goal.
Find Support/Motivators – This is a BIG one! Surround yourself with people who support the goals you have. My biggest supporter is and will always be my husband (So.Much.Love.) I also have friends who have given me incredible support, and I’m fortunate to have found a great community of runners on Instagram (*highly recommend the power of social media!) Sharing the highs and lows of long distance running and seeing others complete races gives me motivation that I can do it as well.
Still feel like running? Lace up and go for it, you may uncover a hidden passion!
I hope these tips are useful for you, anything you would add? Comment below and connect with me 🙂