Guest Post by Janene from One Run at a Time
It’s that time of year – winter is making its way out, slowly but surely, and those spring and summer races are fast approaching. If you haven’t found the right training plan for you, here are some tips to get you started:
Take it slow. If you’re just starting out, use a plan that eases you into running slowly. Start by alternating running and walking in increments of 1 minute for up to 30 minutes at a time. The next week, bump up to a 2:1 run to walk ratio, and so on. The Couch to 5k running plan is a fantastic resource for beginning runners, and the legendary Hal Higdon offers training plans for all races and abilities, from the 5k to the marathon.
Make it your own. There are TONS of training plans out there, but remember that they are only a starting point. A training plan should be dynamic, not rigid – adjust it to suit your schedule and needs, and continue to do so as you progress through it. If you need some extra motivation, consider joining a running club.
Build in rest days and lighter weeks. Any good training plan will include both rest days and rest weeks. A good training plan should increase in mileage and/or intensity for 2 to 3 weeks followed by a “step-back” or recovery week that is lower in mileage and intensity. This gives your body a chance to recover and rebuild itself, making you stronger and more prepared for the next building weeks to come.
Don’t neglect cross training and strength training. You’ve heard this one over and over again, but learn from others people’s mistakes (including mine!) – the key to toeing the start line healthy and uninjured is to incorporate 1 to 2 other forms of cardio and strength training sessions per week. Mix it up and try something you’ve never done. Short on time? Find an interval training class that mixes cardio AND strength for a one-two punch.
Listen to your body. If you increase your mileage or intensity from one week to the next and find yourself struggling, it’s okay to repeat weeks or take a step-back week if your body is really complaining. This is a tricky line to walk. It may take time to learn your body’s signals and strike a balance between challenging yourself appropriately and pushing too hard and too fast.
If you find a plan that works, trust it! Second-guessing is human nature, but have faith that your plan will get you to your goal. You put the effort into creating it, now transfer that energy into each workout. Every session counts, especially the bad ones, but no one workout will make or break you. Commit, follow through and in a few short weeks, you’ll be crossing that finish line!
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Are you preparing for an upcoming race? What are your tricks and tips? Comment below!