If you have committed to start running in 2018, congratulations!
Hopefully one of the things that you have done to help you towards this goal is to commit to a race. If you haven’t been a runner up til now, working up towards a 5k, a 5 miler or even a 10k can be a daunting task. But let’s not fret, with some patience and perseverance you can absolutely get there. In fact, I try to instill in most people that not only will you get there but you are going to enjoy it so much that you are going to want to do this again and again and maybe even on a bigger scale! With that said, I decided to list some key points to keep in mind as you prepare for that first race. These are from personal experience and I am sure they will help in your prep. In fact after all of the races I have done, I still follow these when I start to increase the distance of my races to distances I have never run before!
- Plan right.Set a race date far enough out into the future that allows you adequate time to prepare for. Its perfectly ok to be excited and eager to get to your first race date but if you are new to running, you want to give yourself ample time to prepare. 3 months is a reasonable time to prepare for a race like a 5k (3.1 miles) or something comparable. If you have chosen something a little longer adjust the time frame accordingly.
- Start slow. If you are new to running, please do not try and run your scheduled race distance in the first month of training runs. For example, if your first race is a 5k, build up to the 3.1 miles slowly. Start in the first couple of weeks to run one mile without stopping. When that feels comfortable work up to 1.5 miles and so on and so on. Also, do not be afraid to walk in the beginning. There are some people that find it beneficial to take a short walk and continue running. This is your race and no one else’s! Your goal is to finish the race and feel good! Also, very important that most new runners overlook is stretching. Stretch 5-10 minutes before each of your runs as well as a few minutes after your runs.
- Listen to your body. If your body isn’t accustomed to running, certain muscles will talk back to you at first. Don’t feel the need to run everyday. Allow your muscles to recover before going out for another run. At first, run every other day to allow your muscles to recuperate. Do not feel the need to run 7 days a week. For older runners, you may need two days off between runs. That’s perfectly fine because while you want to run your target distance on race day, we also don’t want you injured while training for it!
- Keep it interesting. Many people shy away from running because they say it is boring. I cringe when I hear that because sometimes they give up on running before ever running a race! I firmly believe that if you stick with your running until you have conquered that first race, you may get addicted to it. So how do we keep it interesting? Listen to music while you run works for me. Also, don’t run the same routes every day because that can get boring. Sometimes I say that running is the best sight seeing in your neighborhood. Also running with a friend or a group can keep thinks interesting. If you are engaged in good conversation, those miles will pass by fast! Finally, pick a running application to track your runs. The stats on these things are amazing and they actually can add a sense of fun to your runs. Check out Strava (in my opinion the best) or Map My Fitness by Under Armour.
- Ignore social media accomplishments. Yes you are reading my blog and you might follow my social media and I am telling you to ignore me! But wait – don’t ignore me all together! Ignore the accomplishments of other runners. Don’t be fixated on the distances or times that other runners are running and posting on social media. As I mentioned before, this is your journey and no one else’s. Don’t get me wrong, I think its good to follow runners on social media to see their experiences, to see what works for them and to learn from their mistakes. But sometimes new runners, say “well I am never going to run that time” or “gosh, my times for a mile or so much slower than theirs”. Who cares!! All of these runners started out somewhere and now you are! Your progress is what is important so while its good to follow other runners, never ever compare yourself to anyone else!
- Trust the process and see it thru to the end. As I mentioned before, so many folks start to run and then give it up. I cannot stress how wonderful it is to run that first race. And then to run the next one. And the next one after that and so on. The experience has so many emotions. The nervousness before the race. The comraderie with other runners. The struggle of the race itself. The sense of accomplishment when you finish. There may be even more emotions for you as well and this continues to happen with each race you run. But lets not get ahead of ourselves – just get thru the first race!
The year is just getting started and with so many races that 2018 has to offer, your possibilities are endless. Hope the above can help you get on track towards your first race. Drop me a line and let me know how it went. Oh and hope to see you are the finish line!