By Michelle Hering, M.S., Fitness expert
Are you ready to race? Whether you’ve signed up for a charity race or community marathon, you’ll need to adopt a training program that will get you across the finish line. So, grab a calendar and mark the big day so that you know how much time you have to work with. Then, get running and get ready to countdown the days.
AFTER YOU SIGN UP
They key to racing is to start slowly and gradually build up your endurance. Your first step: Setting up a training program. You can use the sample program below to train, whether you’re walking or running. If you’re running, simply run when it says to speed walk and either jog or walk quickly when it says normal walk. Figure out how many weeks you have before race day, and then start at that point in the schedule below. Remember, to check your pulse when walking at a normal pace to monitor your progress.
Speed walk 3 minutes; normal walk 1 minute; repeat 5 times for a total of 20 minutes
Speed walk 4 minutes; normal walk 1 minute; repeat 5 times for a total of 25 minutes
Speed walk 5 minutes; normal walk 1 minute; repeat 5 times for a total of 30 minutes
Speed walk 7 minutes; normal walk 1 minute; repeat 4 times for a total of 34 minutes
Speed walk 10 minutes; normal walk 1 minute; repeat 3 times for a total of 33 minutes
Weeks 6 and 7
Speed walk 15 minutes; normal walk 1 minute; repeat 2 times for a total of 32 minutes
Speed walk 18 minutes; normal walk 1 minute; speed walk 12 minutes; normal walk 1 minute; repeat 1 time for a total of 32 minutes
Speed walk 22 minutes; normal walk 1 minute; speed walk 8 minutes; normal walk 1 minute; repeat 1 time for a total of 32 minutes
Speed walk 25 minutes; normal walk 1 minute; speed walk 5 minutes; normal walk 1 minutes; repeat 1 time for a total of 32 minutes
Speed walk 30 minutes; normal 1 minute; repeat 1 time for a total of 31 minutes
Speed walk 33 minutes; normal walk 1 minute; repeat 1 time for a total of 34 minutes
How’s this for a side benefit: Every time you train, you’re meeting the recommended requirement of 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. You can perform each of these sessions two or three times during the week (depending on your activity level). Then on the weekend, walk at your normal pace and track your miles instead of your time. Start with 1 mile and add half to a full mile each week until you reach the length of the race you are racing.
ONE WEEK BEFORE RACE DAY
Give Your Outfit a Trial Run
Know what you want to wear for the big day, and try it out at least a week before the race. That way, if something doesn’t fit quite right or is uncomfortable, you’ll have time to change it. You don’t want to buy something and wear it for the first time on race day. Also, your shoes wear out just like tires, so you should try to get a new pair every six months to a year.
Do Your Research
Print out the course map and become familiar with the route.
THE NIGHT BEFORE THE RACE
Make sure you eat a nutritious dinner the night before the race. This will help you stay energized for the next day. Definitely include some starchy foods, such as whole grain bread, brown rice, or potatoes, but don’t overdo it. About three slices of bread or 1-1/2 cups of grains, pasta or potatoes are enough for most people.
You might be nervous, but sleep is very important – so don’t stay up past your bed time.
Dress in layers
It might be cold when you first get to the race, but after you start moving, you’ll likely warm up. So, make sure you can easily take off layers and wrap them around your waist as you go.
I know that you might have to get up early, but running on an empty stomach is not a good idea. Take some time to fuel up with a healthy breakfast.
Assemble a cheering squad
Ask a friend or family member to stand at the half-way point and have him or her grab the extra layers when you walk by or hand you a drink.
Runners, Take Your Mark
Remember, this should be fun, so don’t worry about what others are doing. But do take note of your finish time so that you can compare future races to your performance!
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