Training for your first race

What equipment do I need?

running shoes

First, get yourself a good pair of running shoes.  It’s not a good idea to simply follow whatever trend is out there.  A few years ago it was “barefoot” running, and now it’s mid-strike shoes.  But feet are different, and what’s right for you may be very different than what’s right for someone else.  You need a running shoe that’s going to provide support, safety and that will work for your foot shape.

The best thing you can do is to go to specialty running store and get your gait and foot analyzed by a specialist. Try on multiple pairs of shoes; walk, jog, and run in them, and make sure you they fit your foot and your running style.

Don’t be afraid to spend for a pair of excellent running shoes.  If you’re going to run a 10k, or anything else, they’ll be the best investment you can make.  Your feet, knees, and back will thank you!

How do I prepare?
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This is the most important part of racing—and you haven’t even hit the pavement yet!  But it can be confusing because there are many things you have to consider. When is the race?  What is the distance you plan to run?  What’s your goal: just to finish the race, or to aim for a certain time?  And what do you need to do to get ready?

The good news is that you can find some pretty good training guides online that will give you a weeks or months progression to meet your goals. But be realistic.  Don’t give yourself only a month to train for a marathon.  Find a plan that works for your fitness level and desired goal.  Ask your Peak Physique trainer for help, too, and we can customize your workouts to help get you ready to run.

Should I join a training group?

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Several studies have shown that it’s easier to stick to your plan and, ultimately, meet your goals if you train as part of a team.  Groups offer motivation, encouragement, progression, pacing and accountability.

The Richmond-area offers many Run Groups to help you achieve your running goals.  Ask your Peak Physique trainer to help you design a running plan and offer suggestions to local groups that will run along side you as you train for your upcoming race.

What were you saying about warming up?

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You know how, on your last run, that first mile was really hard before your body finally loosened up and let you enjoy the run?  That’s because you didn’t warm-up your body properly.  And unless you do, you’re not going to have your best run.  Your muscles—not to mention your lungs—will have to work much harder.  And, worse, it’s more likely that you’ll injury yourself.

It’s critical that you properly warm up before every run.   And because running works your whole body, not just your legs, it’s important that you warm up your entire body.  Try this quick routine before your next run:

  • Jumping Jacks — 30 seconds x 2 sets
  • High knees — 30 seconds x 2 sets
  • Butt kicks — 30 seconds x 2 sets
  • Carioca (a.k.a. grapevines) — 30 seconds x 2 sets (both sides)
  • Skips — 30 seconds x 2 sets
  • Walking lunges — 30 seconds x 2 sets

This routine will build your running economy.  In other words, you’ll use less energy per stride so that running becomes easier from the first mile to the last.  And isn’t that the goal?!

What should I do on the days when I’m NOT running?

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You can’t run every day, nor should you try. You’ll risk injury, exhaustion, and burning out quickly.  We recommend 1-2 days per week where you’re doing something other than running.

So what should you do?  Try cross-training.  Do different forms of cardio to keep your stamina strong, like elliptical, bike, swim, row, Zumba, etc.  And make sure that you add weight-lifting into your regular training routine to strengthen your “running” muscles.  What are running muscles, you ask? Your entire body!  You need a strong core, back, chest, and legs to help your running. Lifting weights or doing body-weight exercises will help keep you strong, increase your endurance and, help prevent injuries.

How about nutrition and hydration?

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Everyone should be eating healthy foods as often as possible, and that’s doubly true for runners.  However, this is not a time for a restrictive low-calorie or low-carb diets. In diet, as in training, balance is key.

Talk with your Peak Physique trainer about designing an eating schedule that will work for your nutritional needs and schedule.  What works for one person doesn’t always for someone else.

And that certainly includes proper hydration.  Drink at least ½ your body weight in ounces daily (weigh 150 lbs? Drink at least 75 oz. of water). Drink 8-16 oz. of water or sports drink 1-2 hours before you run to make sure your body is ready to perform at its best.  If you’d like, you can carry a bottle of water or wear a water belt with you on your run, and gels, blocks, etc. for quick-carb fuel on longer runs.

And after your run, replenish your fluids by drinking 6-24 oz. of water or sports drink (more for longer or harder runs).  If you prefer a sports drink, go for low-calorie option to avoid the extra sugars your body doesn’t need.

Peak Physique sells some amazing hydration products through AdvoCare.  Ask your Peak Physique personal training for specifics.

It’s race week and I’m trained!  Now what?

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The week leading up to your race needs to be about resting and prepping for the big day.  Don’t do any hard runs that week, or you won’t be fresh at the starting line.  Spend the week eating healthy (a little extra salt and carbs in your diet may be helpful), hydrating, and stretching your muscles.

The night before the race, lay out your race clothes, bib number, hydration/gel packs, and shoes.

Pack some post-race clothes to change into, some cash and make sure you have your ID.  Most races have a bag-check service to use. They generally take tips, so be sure to bring a few extra bucks!

Preparing as much as you can the night before will help eliminate stress on the morning of the race.

I did great! When’s my next race?

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When you cross the finish line, your adrenaline will be pumping and you’ll feel the famed runner’s high.  Now you start thinking … when can I do this again?!

It’s never too early to start planning your next race.  In fact, registering for races earlier can often save you money on registration fees.

However, you need to make sure that you allow yourself time to recover before you start training again. Let your body heal. Then, when you’re ready, start thinking about your new goals.  Are you doing the same distance or increasing? Do you have new time goals? How can Peak Physique help you achieve them?

Also consider what you learned while preparing for this race. What did you do that helped you? What should you have done differently? Answering these questions will help you plan your next race and help you have a successful training.

Happy running!  See you at the finish line!

Author: Peak Physique

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