As the steamy days of summer come to an end and fall is in the air, some would argue it’s the best time of year for running. The cool crisp air and the leaves falling from the trees are great complements to an autumn run. With fall also comes race training season, a time when runners hit the road in preparation for their next personal victory.
If you’re a seasoned runner having completed previous races or someone just beginning to consider signing up for a race, there’s a lot to know. Marathoners have their own specific training and nutrition regimens, while short distance runners with a few 5K races under their belts may have different tips and tricks for race training. But no matter your distance goal, there are some similar considerations to keep in mind now that race training season is here.
How Do You Start Race Training?
Perhaps you’ve never run a race but have a decent workout routine at the gym, exercising regularly to stay healthy. Whether you’ve decided on a 5K race (3.1 miles) or a longer one, you’ll need to prepare accordingly to prepare your body, reduce the risk of injury on race day, and set yourself up for success. Training properly is important whether you’re seeking the thrill of ranking or the sense of accomplishment of simply finishing the race.
Alternatively, if you’re a less seasoned gym-goer with more of a sedentary lifestyle, you’ll want to build your race training program more gradually. You may have even heard of “couch to 5K” training programs geared toward getting those who are not accustomed to working out ready for a 5K race.
The first consideration when beginning race training is deciding how much time you’ll need to prepare. Depending on the length of the race for which you’ve registered, the training length and intensity will vary. On average, for a 5K race, you should allow around six weeks to prepare; for a 10K, allow around eight weeks; and for a longer race such as a marathon (26.2 miles), three to five months will allow sufficient time to build up your mileage and prepare your body for race day.
Next, you’ll need to get into the mindset of committing to your race training regimen. You’ve set a goal to complete the race, and you’re determined to make it happen. With any health and fitness goal, keep your focus on the result you’re seeking, but at the same time, enjoy the challenge of overcoming the obstacles to get there.
How to Increase Stamina and Endurance
With any length of race for which you’re preparing, you’ll need to build up your stamina and endurance to not tire as easily during your race. Going from periodic gym visits to running over three miles nonstop requires practice.
Stamina considers both the mental and physical capability to do an exercise (in this case, run) for an extended period, while endurance is how long an activity can be performed based on your body’s functionality. Endurance refers to cardiovascular efficiency, or how well your heart, lungs, and muscles work together to distribute blood and oxygen throughout your body.
Stamina and endurance are an important part of any race training program. Throughout your training, you’ll notice an improvement in the lengths you can run without stopping, as well as your ability to maintain a lower heart rate throughout your run. By strengthening both your body and your mind, you can push your body harder when you start to tire—mentally and physically—and work on increasing your pace for race day.
Rest Days and Active Recovery
Rest days are an important part of a race training schedule. Rest days can refer to an actual rest, meaning no activity, or a rest day can be dedicated to active recovery, where you may take a break from running and substitute a different activity like yoga, swimming, or cycling. Your muscles used for running have time to recover, heal, and grow stronger before your next training session.
To keep your race training schedule on track, be mindful of your rest activities. Resting with too little activity too often can derail the progress you’ve worked so hard to achieve and make it more difficult to get back into your workout routine.
Group Fitness classes at EōS are a great way to support active recovery.
Tips to Support Your Race Training Regimen
Possibly the most important thing to remember when training for a race is that consistency is key to building a routine. On race day, you want to feel confident in your mental and physical ability to finish the race and be able to focus on the challenge and excitement of achieving your goal. Keep the following tips in mind to support your race training.
- Increase your mileage and running session time gradually. Too much too fast can lead to injury and possible setbacks toward your race day goal.
- Cross-training with other workouts can improve your running performance. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength training work your muscles differently than running and contribute to better running endurance and speed.
- Alternate your pace. Work intervals and sprints into your race training schedule to increase your aerobic capacity and help make your long-distance runs feel easier.
- Get sufficient sleep. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night to allow muscle tissue time to recover between workouts and reenergize your body for the next day of training.
- Break in your gear. Don’t wear new running clothes or shoes on race day. By wearing running gear you’re familiar with and have tested, you’ll avoid any potential sore spots and have one less thing to worry about.
- Fuel your body. Hydrate adequately and eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods with complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat to give you enough energy to power through the race.
- Know your goals and stay focused. By the time you reach race day, you’ll have an idea of your average pace and goal pace.
After weeks or months of race training preparations, stepping up to the starting line should be an exciting moment. You’ve worked hard for it, so don’t stress, enjoy the experience, and rely on your training to get you through. You’ve got this!
At EōS, you’ll find dozens of Group Fitness classes, strength training equipment, and cardio machines to aid in your race training program. Prepare for your next race by signing up for a Complimentary 7-Day Pass at EōS today.