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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.

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.

7. Training for a Race: Eat Healthfully

Nourish your body, says Isphording. You are working out more, so you'll need to consume more calories to repair muscle and build strength.

But choose the right foods. Don't fill up on empty calories. Opt for complex carbohydrates and proteins and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Listen to your body, Isphording adds.

"You'll start to crave (fruits and vegetables) as you put these extra demands on the body," she says.

8. Training for a Race: Find Support

It's always easier to train if you have a running buddy. When you have a partner, there's less of a chance of letting the demands of life get in the way of training, says Isphording. Your running buddy will help get you out the door on the days when you don't even feel like putting on your running shoes.

9. Training for a Race: Run Safe

If you are running after dark, wear reflective clothing and run in well-lighted areas as much as possible. Run on indoor or lighted tracks if you can.

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