How To Train for a Race

BreakingModernTryATri — The hardest part about training for a race is getting up and out of your house. Putting on some workout gear and tying up your running shoes? Easy-peasy. Leaving the house knowing you have to cover x amount of miles? Not so easy.

Whether your goal is finishing a 5K, a 10K, a 21K half marathon or a 42K full marathon (3 miles, 6 miles, 13 miles or 26 miles respectively), it all starts with walking out the door and taking the first few steps.

Helpful Tips and Tricks in Training for a Race

Find a race

Whether it’s a fun run, obstacle run, a local community race, a short sprint or full marathon, choose a race that works for you and what you want to accomplish. Obstacle races like the Tough Mudder or Spartan Race are becoming popular for their challenging (and fun) barriers, while business-sponsored and well-known races like the Boston Marathon or Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon are well-organized and operate smoothly.

tough mudder race

Choose a length that suits you, set your goal and work on getting there.

Figure out a training schedule

There are a lot of programs and guides to help you get on your mile-running way.

If you need encouragement, mobile apps such as Zombies, Run! or Couch to 5k are very helpful in guiding you through a step-by-step process. And yes, zombies will chase you in that first app. Talk about motivation.

If you’re looking for a more-traditional route, you can join a running clinic or find one of many plans online, such as Hal Higdon or Runner’s World. There are various plans for different people of varying stages of fitness. Some plans take 12 weeks, others eight to 10 and some even less. It all depends on where you are, fitness-wise, before choosing a plan.

nigh raceChange your route

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t run the same route every time you go for a run — change it up and vary your path and destination. Mix it up with nearby trails or go to a neighborhood you haven’t been to before. Not only is different terrain good for your body, it changes the routine and keeps your run interesting.

Watch your pace

Keep it easy. Seriously, don’t run in full-sprint mode right off the bat. Ease into a gentle pace that you feel comfortable with before picking up speed. A race, especially if it’s one with a longer distance, isn’t about speed but endurance. Speed comes with time and practice, so if it’s your first race you’re gearing up for, worry less about how quickly you might finish and more about finishing at all.

On my first 5K race, my goal was to just finish. Now I’m looking to beat my personal record and run faster than 20 minutes.

Shoes. Shoes. Shoes.

They matter. Don’t choose them based on brand — Nike, Adidas, New Balance — choose them for comfort and the way your feet feel in them. Style comes second to practicality and comfort. A word of advice: let them breathe overnight or even a day in between runs so they won’t break down as quickly. Plus, they will likely smell less, which is always a plus.

Build up to a race with another race

If your goal is to complete a marathon for the first time, sign up for another race of a shorter distance first -10K, 15K or even a half marathon. Not only does it help encourage you to keep going when you complete the shorter race, it’s one step closer to your goal.

Listen to your body

Because if it’s aching, it’s aching. If something is bothering you, lay off and take a break. Rest up, reschedule your training plan and finish the run on another day. I find this part difficult because I’m always on the go and the idea of not exercising or completing a run bothers me. Nevertheless, your body will be much happier after a break and will come back stronger than before.

Bread Honey Run RaceHello best friend, care to join me for a run?

Running isn’t always the easiest, or fun, thing to do. If you have friends that like to run, or are planning to start, drag them out with you. The easy (ok, sometimes not so easy) banter and bickering of “Why am I doing this?” makes the run much more enjoyable.

My friends and I always push each other by saying, “Keep going until the stop sign,” or “Don’t stop until you get to the top of the hill,” or even, “Ohh, hot guy, keep running.” Whatever motivates you, right?

Overall, it’s all about finding a happy medium between pushing yourself and listening to your body. One of the best feelings in the world is crossing the finish line and knowing you’ve completed a goal you’ve worked hard on for the past few months. For me, next year’s goal is to complete a half marathon.

For BMod, I’m .

All images:

Cassandra Chin

Author: Cassandra Chin

Based in Toronto, Cassandra covers fitness, apps and books for BreakingModern. Follow her @cchin01

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