Are you ready to take that big step from couch potato to runner? Or perhaps, you’re already a casual runner—running several times a week as part of your fitness routine and want to see how good you truly are.
If you’re a new runner or entering your first race, it takes some dedication and a lot of preparation if you want to cross that finish line. For a new or casual runner, the 5K is a good choice for your first race. It won’t take you as long to train for a 5K as it does for a marathon and it’s also inexpensive. You’ll probably need about 6 weeks to prepare. Training for a half marathon should take you about four months while you may need close to six months for a marathon.
Whether you’re running in a 5K Race, half marathon or a marathon, there are several things you can do to better prepare yourself before the big day.
1. Get adequate sleep
Try to get at least 7 to 8 hours during your training—if that’s what your body requires—throughout your training and the day before your race. Some people require more than that; some require less. Do what works best for you. A sleepless night can make you feel sluggish, groggy and dull. You want to be alert and ready to go.
2. Be prepared
It doesn’t matter the distance your race will cover, you want to practice and be prepared as well. Run several times a week to condition your body. Also, determine ahead of time what your fueling strategies will be—do you need water or a nutritional bar ahead of time? Just as important, know the type of clothes you will wear. Some people’s skin will get agitated by certain types of fabric. Make sure you don’t have that issue on race day or you’ll be in for a miserable time.
3. Set a goal and a backup goal
If you may have a goal that you want to achieve but you might not be feeling 100% or the weather may not be cooperative. There are so many things out of your control that you should always have a goal and a backup goal. For example, it may be pouring down rain on the day of the race. As a result, you probably won’t be running the time you want to but there could be secondary finish time you may want to achieve.
4. Hydrate before and during
As a runner, you want to avoid dehydration. Plain old water is the best way to go. Water will prevent you from overheating. Take a drink about 30 minutes before you run and then small sips throughout the race when your mouth is dry.
5. Stay upbeat and positive
Maintain a positive attitude during your training and leading up to your race. A positive mental attitude can help you overcome challenging situations.
Pre-race jitters is common. It’s just a normal part of any competition. It also means you care greatly about your performance and want to do well. Stay calm and be relaxed. One way you can do this is run with music you enjoy. Music allows you to think about something else other than the task at hand.
7. Pace yourself
Finally, don’t try to set a land speed record in your first mile out. Go slow and gradually increase your stride until you’re settled in your normal training pace.
Talk to your doctor
Before training for any road race, we recommend talking to your doctor. He or she may have some running suggestions that suit your needs and address any possible limitations.