Let’s say you are encouraged to register for a race. Yay! Races are fun, right? Your friends high-five you, they tag you on social media with super-cool hashtags (#awesome, #thisgirlruns) and then it’s on.
Sooo, now what? Right?!
Training for a race or event takes three things.
- A training plan.
- Some jiggering of your schedule so you can meet your training goals.
- The common sense to know that while having a plan is a really, really, really good idea but you recognize that life happens.
Let’s tackle them one at a time.
A Training Plan
When looking for a training plan look for the following:
- One that fits your fitness/running level . Are you a beginner? Own your beginner status.
- One that fits your availability. Can you run 6 days a week? If not, find a plan that will max you out at 4.
- One that makes sense. Speed work and hill repeats are great for those looking to PR or who will be running a hilly course. Flat, “just want to finish” racers should look for a plan that will get them to the start (without injury) and the finish.
Now, bear in mind that there are some people who can run a race without any formal training plan. We call them the anomalies; the running freaks. Don’t take advice from them.
For a 5K or 10K you can get through a training plan by doing shorter runs during the week and longer runs on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Your long runs will be at least the distance of the race, maybe a bit longer so you don’t crap out the last half mile or so.
Longer races will require more running and longer long runs. Some plans may have you doing longer runs during the week and longer long runs on the weekend.
The long weekend run are what usually freaks people out. Long runs are typically on the weekend and that may impede with family time and that can cause stress.
Here’s my take on this; you aren’t going to be gone 3 or 4 hours every weekend. It’s one day a week and you’ll be gone 3 hours max (even on marathon training, the rule of thumb is to cap it at 3 hours, even if you haven’t hit your training distance). Plus your long runs will kick in maybe week 6 or 7 of a 16 week plan.
Your family will be ok. Your husband or wife will be ok. It’s good to have your own interests. So go run.
A final thought about scheduling. If you have a long run on a Sunday morning you have to respect that fact that you need rest. So maybe plan your fun time on Friday nights so you can be hydrated and in bed early on Saturday evening. And no, wine is not considered hydration.
With all of the planning, plotting, scheduling, early bedtimes, and pre-dawn runs, shit happens. You may get sick. You may have to take time off to deal with work or family.
Depending on the time you have taken off will determine your plan of action. A day or two missed? No worries keep going. A week or two? Look at your plan, see where you can reasonably pop back in and go for it but start back conservatively.
If you miss more than three weeks (you’re not running or hardly running or running with a lot of pain) it’s time to re-evaluate your goals. Can you drop to a shorter distance? Walk/run? Drop out of the race altogether?
When all is said and done, it’s just a run. And if you can’t run I know you’ll be disappointed but it’s better to not run than to run and get injured.
Hopefully these tips will help get you to the starting line of your next race. Need more help? Drop me an email.
Now go run!