A Beginner’s Step-by-Step Guide to Training for a Race
So you’ve decided to train for a race—congrats! But, if it’s your first one, where do you even start? You might feel inspired and energized, but if you need a little guidance for how to direct that energy, we’ve got a step-by-step guide to help you out. Training and completing your run may be the most physically taxing event you’ll ever do. To streamline your training and to focus, try these tips for training your race.
Actually Register for the Race
Always commit to the race before you begin your training. If you have already paid your fees and saved the date on your calendar, it will be much harder to back out. This is your first step in being mentally prepared—and mental preparedness is a large percentage of what it takes to start and finish your goal.
Before you begin your training, you’ll need to invest in some running gear. A good pair of running shoes is a must, but you should also consider adding in some of the following:
- quick drying running clothes,
- an armband to hold your smartphone,
- safety lights for running after dark,
- body glide to help with chafing,
- comfortable socks that absorb perspiration and
- any other items that will make your training seamless.
Having the right gear is important so that you can focus on the race ahead! That said, if all you can afford right off the bat is a great pair of running shoes, you can manage without the rest.
Start Your Training
Depending on what length you’ve chosen to run for your race, training varies slightly when you begin. For a 5K or 10K, you should be prepared to run three to four days a week, running from 15 to 25 miles total per week. This preparation will build stamina and teach your body how to endure a run.
This type of training should begin seven to 10 weeks from your race—if you’re already an active runner. Starting at 30-minute intervals during the week will help prep your body.
Increasing your Distance
Once you have the 30 minutes down, increase your weekly mileage by several miles each week. Remember to adjust to this gradually. It can be tempting to try and run as far as you can every single day, but that can increase your risk of injury and could potentially put you out of commission on the day of your race.
Once a week, schedule a long run. These are the runs that will ultimately teach your body to complete your goal race. Also, make sure you can take a rest day after each of your long runs. Typically, the longer runs range from five to seven miles. Your final long run should be around 15 to 20 miles, if you are ready for that. This would fall about two weeks before your race.
During your training, you will need to eat plenty of carbohydrates for fuel. However, make sure you also eat moderate amounts of protein to rebuild your muscle. Also, during your runs, sample different energy efficient foods and drinks to see which ones help your body perform effectively.
Taper, Trust and Run
Before your race, gradually decrease your weekly mileage. Also, grant yourself a few rest days before the actual race. Tapering will give your body the strength it needs to complete your goal. The last step is to trust your training as you run your race. Remember, it’s normal to have jitters before the race, but once you start, your training will take over. Keep in mind even casual training can result in a finish—it’s simply the quality of the training that will determine how painful or enjoyable the finish will be. Trusting your training will give you the mental toughness you need to reach your goal.
Not training for a race but interested in trying something new? Learn about HIIT and what it can do for you.