Whether you are running just 10 kilometres down the coastline or 40 kilometres around the city, the truth is you will be clocking up many more miles just getting to the starting line. Use these tips to help you put your best foot forward in reaching the finishing line:
1. Give yourself between 16 to 20 weeks to train
The duration of your training plan depends on your current fitness level and the distance for which you are preparing. Twenty weeks is a sufficient amount of time to let your body and lifestyle adapt to a training schedule. The longer time frame also allows some flexibility should any unexpected events like sickness occur which may delay your training schedule.
2. Listen to your body before you devise a training plan
It may be common to hear the phrase “no pain, no gain” being thrown around in the gym, but this is really just an exercise myth. In fact, doubling your usual 10 kilometre run on the first day of training will put you at high risk of injury.
Instead, your training plan should start off in a similar way to your current running routine. The mileage you clock up should increase incrementally, especially if you only have a few weeks to prepare for the race. It is recommended that you add only a maximum of 10 percent of the distance you are covering into your regular exercise programme — or a maximum of two kilometres each week. If you are a complete beginner and your body is not used to covering more distance than a daily walk to the bus interchange, ease into a running plan that starts with two runs a week and build it up as the weeks go on.
4. Get motivated and gather a support crew
It is easy to fill in a form for a race and pay the participant fee, but it is far more difficult to actually get out of bed or the house to train for it each day. Instead of attacking the training regime on your own, recruit a friend to join you. Signing up for a long-distance run with a friend will make the whole process from training to crossing the finishing line become much more enjoyable. And if you don’t have a willing friend, perhaps join a local running group.
Don’t forget to rally up more sources of motivation during the actual race itself, such as inviting some of your friends and family members. These personal cheerleaders will give you encouragement at certain points of the course with shouts, cheers or signs, which will be immensely appreciated at times when you feel like giving up.
Another small motivation that can make a difference in pushing you forward is a playlist with songs that stimulate your motions, such as those with a high amount of beats. In fact, there are apps available to boost your runs. The right app or soundtrack to your sport can help to distract you from fatigue, too.
5. Practice along the real running course
Once you have built up your endurance and accumulated distances close to those you will be running on the day, see if it’s possible to run the race route on your training runs. These are a rehearsal for the real thing so test out what will work for you on race day itself. For example, make note of any difficult terrain, set your pace, see if your playlist needs any changes and decide in advance where you should position your cheerleaders for maximum effectiveness.
As race day approaches, you might feel nervous, but don’t lose your confidence. Think about how you have been readying yourself for the crack of the starting pistol and enjoy the experience! Trust in your training and you will be ready to take on even longer distances.