For An Event
Whether a 10K, a Charity Run,
a Half or Full Marathon,
here's how to prepare
Few things are more satisfying than achieving a major goal. For many runners, that goal is completing challenging events such as 21 or 42 Km runs (called half marathons and marathons, respectively), which take place throughout the season. Other runners enjoy helping society by raising money for and completing a charity run. Or, your goal might be something simpler but just as challenging, such as a ten kilometre, shedding pounds to improve your health or getting fit enough to keep up with a group of friends.
Whatever your goal, before you start logging kilometres, it's best to have a plan. To help, here are some basic guidelines for training and fitness. Follow them and there's an excellent chance that you'll reach your goals.
Get a Check-Up
Before beginning a fitness program it's best to get checked by your physician to ensure that it's safe for you to begin running regularly. Additionally, you can discuss your fitness goal with your doctor for expert feedback. They may surprise you with some helpful training tips!
The secret to staying motivated to train is having something to look forward to. While you may already have your major long-term goal (finishing the half or full marathon event), it's important to set short-term goals, too. These should be attainable and more immediate tasks such as running four days a week, or getting to bed at a reasonable hour to speed recovery. The right goals keep you focused and provide day-to-day satisfaction during your regular training leading up to the big event.
Work Then Rest
The basic principle of exercise is stressing the body a certain amount and then letting it recover. During the recovery phase the body reacts to the work you did and actually gets stronger. And, over time, by gradually increasing the amount and intensity of the work and recovering carefully, you build fitness and improve. Keep this hard/easy principle in mind as you train and always remember that the easy part (rest) is just as important as the work part. Pay attention to how you feel after runs, to gauge your fatigue level and adjust your training accordingly for optimum recovery.
Build Fitness Gradually
To maintain a fitness level, you must run at least three days a week. And the length and intensity of these runs should be based on your ability. If you're just starting to train, your first runs might be at a conversational pace (an effort that allows you to talk to run partners) and about an hour long on rolling or flat terrain. Then, to increase your range and ability to maintain a faster pace, you can add another run to the week and/or increase the intensity of some of the runs (either by running faster or including hills or hard efforts to increase the workload). What's important is to add effort gradually. Aim for about a ten-percent increase per week in distance/time and no more. And, always back off if you feel tired. Take an easy day cross training comfortably or rest entirely.
Track Your Training
Another secret to success is keeping a training diary. Any notebook or electronic file is fine. After each run, jot down a description, the distance, time, effort level and how you felt that day. You might also want to track your weight and resting heart rate. Once you've accumulated some data, the diary becomes a great tool for figuring out what works and what doesn't. Use it to fine-tune your workouts to achieve your goals. A training log is also a fine motivator. As the pages fill with runs, you'll be proud of your accomplishments and want to keep adding to it.
Make Time To Run
If you're a busy professional, the biggest challenge may be finding time to run. It helps to be flexible, creative and stubborn. Keep in mind that any run is better than no run when it comes to achieving your goals and getting in your planned runs. Responsibilities eating up most of the day? Run in the pre-dawn hours or evening with a light. If you have a shower at work, consider running during your lunch break or running to and from work. You might even be able to form a weekly lunch-group run. Need to watch the kids during the time you set aside to run? Run on a treadmill in the living room so you can exercise and monitor the kids simultaneously. If you get creative and determined to fit your runs in, you'll stick with your plan and succeed.
While everyone feels out of sorts at times, it shouldn't jeopardize your fitness goals. Usually, the hardest part is getting out of the house and starting to run. One great trick is having a training partner or running group that meets regularly. It also helps to have those short-term goals we mentioned and to use them as focal points in your training. For example, you might write a training schedule and use it to set daily goals to keep you committed. Another trick is telling yourself beforehand that it's going to be a great run. Or, try focusing on something positive on the run such as a bakery you can stop at or a thrilling descent. Keep things fun like this and you'll stay on track and realize your goals. Good luck!
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