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Training for the Big Run

Follow these 10 tips to make your next run your best and your farthest.
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WebMD Feature

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 long-run.

 

Good luck!

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 cause.

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."

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