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Training for Your First Race: An 8 Week-Plan

This race training program can have almost any runner ready in a couple of months.
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WebMD Feature

Training for a race, even your first race, is not hard if you have the tools in hand to do it right.

WebMD consulted the experts and collected tips on training for a race, as well as a training schedule to help you prepare for your first 10K (6.2 mile) run. Our race training plan can get almost any runner ready in a few weeks.

1. Training for a Race: Have a Goal

"A goal can be how much by when," says Julie Isphording, former Olympic runner and organizer of Cincinnati's historic Thanksgiving Day Race. "It could be running a 10K by March, or getting into that little black dress by March. Maybe it's even an old picture of yourself that you're trying to resemble again."

Goals motivate you to train, says Bruce Gross, a Road Runner's Club of America (RRCA) certified running coach and Power Bar Team Elite sponsored athlete in Potomac, Md.

2. Training for a Race: Gear Up

The first step in training for a race is to get comfortable, properly fitted running shoes. Go to a running specialty store to assure proper fit, Gross advises. Most specialty stores will have a treadmill or a place you can actually run and try out the shoes. Wear the clothes you'll be running in (including the socks) to try out new sneakers. And be sure to get your foot measured, because as we age, our feet grow. You may not have the same foot size you did the last time you bought athletic shoes.

When you run, you should dress in layers, depending on the weather and time of year, And throw away the cotton, Gross advises. There's plenty of good, high-tech gear (made of fabrics like Dri-Fit and Cool-Max) that will keep you more comfortable during training and on race day.

"Cotton gets wet and heavy," says Gross. It can also keep you cold, because it doesn't wick away the sweat.

You don't have to have a lot of expensive running gear, just one or two of the right things.

3. Training for a Race: Match Time of Day

If you're going to run a morning race, train in the morning.

According to Jesse Pittsley, PhD, a former high school and college racer, your body adapts to the time you generally exercise. Because Pittsley always practiced at 3 p.m. while in school, for example, his body would begin to get jittery at 2:30, anticipating his run.

If your race will be in the morning and you can't train at that time during the week, be sure to schedule your weekend runs for that time.

Also, if you're not a morning person, don't choose a race with a 7 a.m. start.

"If getting up in the morning and having to run really hard is tough, you don't want do a race then," Pittsley points out.

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