Training for the Big Run
Follow these 10 tips to make your next run your best and your farthest.
Whether you're eyeing a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or even a
marathon, one thing is for sure -- your next race promises to be your farthest
and your fastest.
Nervous? Excited? Don't know where to start? Don't fret, we are
here to help. Follow our expert-approved, 10-step plan to train for your next
Step 1. Pick a race, any race.
"The first step is to pick the race that you want to enter," says
fitness trainer Kathy Kaehler of Hidden Hills, Calif. "This way you have a
date in mind, a time frame to train within and a goal," she tells WebMD.
Find out about local races by visiting your local roadrunner's club. Not sure
if you have one? Visit the Road Runner's Club of America website at
http://www.rrca.org for a list of local clubs. Click on your state for a list
of local races.
Step 2. Get a physical before you get physical.
"Before you begin, it's a good idea to see your doctor and get a
thorough physical examination -- particularly if you have not had one in
several years or if until now you have been fairly sedentary," says Lewis
G, Maharam, MD, medical director of the New York City Marathon and NYC
Triathlon, among others. "This exam should include an exercise stress test
(preferably done on a treadmill) to try and make sure that you have no obvious
heart problems that might surface if you exercise too hard."
Step 3. Find a running partner or group
Once your doctor has given you the 'all-clear,' the next step is to find
someone to train with. "Partners and groups are motivating because you are
accountable to a group and pushed by people -- some of whom are better than
you," Kaehler says. "If you can't find a club, then try to find a
running partner who is equivalent to your fitness level." Local running
stores and your local runner's club can help you find groups. Many major road
races, particularly marathons, also have classes for the benefit of runners
training for their event. The park and recreation departments in many cities
often provide jogging programs for interested parties. In addition, many
charity organizations, notably The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In
Training, offer training programs and help runners raise money for the
Step 4. Dress for success
Though clothes do not make the runner, there is no substitute for the right
running shoe, Maharam tells WebMD. "There should be about a thumbnail's
length between the longest toe and the end of the shoe. Without this much
space, you can lose your toe nails," he cautions. Your best bet is to go to
a specialty shop to buy running-specific shoes because the staff will better
trained at fitting them. Replace your running shoes every 350 to 500 miles
because they lose shock absorption and other protective qualities with use.
What's more, "make sure you choose synthetic socks," Maharam says.
"Unlike cotton, synthetic material wicks away moisture and fluid;
preventing blisters and the wearing away of your feet."