With spring in the air, perhaps one of your resolutions this year is to exercise outdoors more. One of the best ways to motivate yourself to get moving is to sign up for a race. Having a race day in your journal gives you something to aim for, and seeing yourself improve will help encourage you to get your running shoes on and get out there.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few of our top tips for training for a race this spring.
Choose the right distance
If you’re brand new to running, it’s probably not realistic to run a marathon in the next few months. Pushing yourself too hard too soon can cause injury, burnout, and other setbacks that will slow down your progress in the long run.
If you’re brand new to running, choose a 5k or 10k race. If you’re comfortable running at least 10k regularly, then you can start considering a half marathon. We recommend only going for the full 26.2 miles once you’ve successfully run at least one half marathon.
Find a training buddy
Research shows that training with someone else makes you more likely to stay on track and reach your goals. So why not recruit your partner, a friend, or a member of your local running club and train for the race together?
The best training partner is someone who is at about the same level as you. You should be comfortable with each other and willing to be supportive but also push one another when necessary.
Get a good pair of running shoes
Running is popular in part because it’s cheap to do. You don’t need a gym membership and you do not require any special clothing, just loose and comfortable garments that you can move in.
But if you spend money on one thing, make it a good pair of running shoes. Ideally, you should visit a running shop and get some expert advice. Experts can analyze your gait and form, and help you to choose the right pair of shoes for your body, budget, and goals.
If you cannot get to a running shop in person, read as many reviews as you can online before choosing your shoes.
Follow a proven training plan
There is no need to reinvent the wheel, as the saying goes. You can take the guesswork out of training for your race by following an existing training plan.
If you are new to running, Couch to 5K is a great program to get you started. There are also similar podcast series that can help you train for 10k, half marathon, and full marathon races. You can also find training plans online. Simply do a Google search for “training plan + [distance]”.
When choosing a training plan, consider the credentials of the individual or organization that is offering it. The best plans are those created by professional trainers or athletes.
Get into a routine
When you are trying to reach a specific goal such as completing a race, consistency is key. Decide how many times per week you want to train (three times per week is about right in most cases) and when you will do so.
While you can have some flexibility, a consistent routine will keep you on track. For example, you might decide that you will run before work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Make use of protective recovery wear
Runners at all levels are at risk of injury. Running puts your muscles, ligaments, and joints under strain and this can result in painful injuries that set your training back.
You can help to prevent injury by building plenty of rest days into your training plan, listening to your body, and building up your endurance gradually. It’s important to pay attention to your running form, too. You can also make use of protective garments and recovery wear.
Incrediwear’s running recovery products are designed to maximize your recovery and mitigate the risk of injury. The germanium-embedded technology increases circulation of blood and lymph fluid, allowing additional oxygen and nutrients to be supplied to the affected areas. Knee sleeves and ankle sleeves are great choices for runners.
Stick with it
Training for a race can be fun and rewarding. But it can also be hard. Whether due to injury, illness, or just bad weather, you are likely to encounter setbacks during your training. Not every run will be a good one, and some days you will feel frustrated and want to quit.
Being a runner isn’t about never experiencing these problems. It’s about experiencing them and learning to roll with them and keep moving towards your goal anyway.
So stick with it! All your hard work and training will be worth it when you cross the finish line on race day.