First, chat amongst your chapter for advice. Runners might find a group of members also training for fall and/or winter races. This is a great chance to get your weekend long runs organized on the “Weekend Running Discussion Board" and your team can run those long miles together. Traveling over the summer? No worries! Check to see if there will be a Stroller Warriors chapter near your destination; if not, reach out to a local running group and tag along for a run.
Once you have your long-run training partners committed to logging those long runs, start thinking about training plans. There are a wide variety of training plan apps and programs out there; however, one favorite is the Hal Higdon marathon training plan. This planning method provides a schedule for different abilities— novice, intermediate, and advanced. Before choosing a plan, think about your schedule (kids, deployments, TDYs, etc.). Life happens! Committing to a strenuous training schedule might not be a feasible option, so choose a plan that works for your life schedule! Running is fun and not a chore.
Be sure to add cross-training, speed work, and strength training to your plan, as it is imperative to strengthen and diversify those muscles. Speed work can be added into your midweek 3–4-mile run, strength training doesn’t have to be a long session in the gym. A quick chipper of 21-15-9 kettlebell swings, goblet squats, and sit ups is a perfect example of quick, yet effective strength workout scheme. Work smarter, not longer.
Think about your race hydration and fuel. Try different fueling and hydration options during your training, not on race day! Adding a new fuel and hydration method on race day is not a good idea and could lead to stomach issues during the race. One pointer- try to find out which hydration and fuel supplements will be used on the racecourse. It’s a good idea to work those options into your training in the event you run out of water and fuel on the course. Speaking of hydration— planning to wear a hydration-vest, belt, or handheld water bottle during the race? If so, train with these items before race day!
Speaking of fuel, many have heard about the pre-race day carb load. While important to have proper nutrition on the eve of a big race, know that healthy eating habits throughout training are imperative to a successful race. One “carb load” pre-race meal will not carry you to the end if you’re not practicing properly fueling the body throughout training.
Sneakers! It’s a great idea to rotate sneakers throughout your training. You don’t want to run a marathon with a pair of worn-out sneakers, but it’s also a bad idea to run a long race wearing a brand-new pair. Rotating sneakers will help you break in a pair of shoes that will be perfect for a long race!
Race expos are a blast and filled with every running vendor imaginable! Purchasing a few new pieces of running attire is exciting…but wait until after race day to wear them during a run. For race day attire, it’s best to wear items that you wore during training— items that you’re comfortable with and tested on long runs…items that won’t bunch up, cause chaffing, etc. Wearing untested clothing, shoes, and gear on race day might be a fashion victory, but it could also be a running disaster.
Have fun…during training as the miles increase, you’ll be securing many small victories as you test new distances and break previous duration records. Last, make sure family and friends know where to see you along the racecourse for motivation. They can refill hydration and fuel and take lots of pictures.