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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.

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.

4. Training for a Race: Know Your Race

Get familiar with the course you will run, and train accordingly. If the course is hilly, train on hills or you could end up with a calf problem. If it's a trail race, practice trail running, since trail courses are much more unstable than those made of asphalt.

"Your race environment determines a lot of your training environment," says Pittsley.

Besides knowing the course -- and perhaps even running it, if it's accessible -- it's a good idea to know the general conditions of the race. Try to determine what the temperature is likely to be when you run, how many runners there will be, and where the water stations are.

5. Training for a Race: Stick to the Program

Develop a race training schedule of your own, or use the schedule below - and stick to it.

"If you do the mileage and the workouts, you'll be successful," says Gross.

Many people skip the practice runs but if you do that, you will suffer on race day. You won't be prepared, and it will take more of a toll on your body.

6. Training for a Race: Cross Train

Just because you're training for a race, says Julie Isphording, "don't become one-dimensional. Cross training and doing other things like light weight lifting, swimming, yoga, Pilates or other functional training on your off days is very important."

Cross training days allow your running muscles a chance to recover.

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