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Training for a Distance Race: You CAN Do it!
On February 17 I completed my seventh half marathon. What a
ride run it’s been!
I began long distance running when my oldest daughter was just a baby. I did so on a whim. I woke early. Laced up my shoes. Ran the streets around our Pasadena condo. I still recall those early morning runs, when I would be out before the sun and watch as the world woke up before my eyes. I was looking for a challenge, something I’d never done before, and I found it by running for several hours at a time.
I have continued distance running, trying to do a half marathon once or twice per year. While it is not always an easy feat, it is definitely a welcome challenge; and the rewards – crossing the finish line and knowing I stuck with it all the way through – can’t be expressed properly in words.
Training is not always easy. As you know, kids get sick, partners sometimes travel for work, rain pours and snow freezes on the road. But if you work through all of those problems and still manage to cross the finish line, you will feel stronger than ever.
Here’s how to make long distance running work for YOU!
Create a good base. Before you consider doing a longer run, create a base program. Make sure you are running three to four days a week. Do a long run each week (and that may be only four miles or so in the beginning); a shorter, faster run; and an intermediate run at a relaxed pace.
Find a REALISTIC running program to follow. Too many running programs ask runners to do more mileage than needs to be done. They want you running 5-6 days a week, which isn’t doable for most mothers. I run three days a week following the long, short, intermediate plan above. That’s all you need to run to train. Find a good program in Runner’s World magazine or online, and modify as needed.
Don’t increase over 10% in one week, and drop back the next. The other thing I’ve found through these past 15 years of running is this: Many programs have you increase mileage each week, or too much too fast. You should aim to increase your long run no more than 10-15% at a time and then drop back the week after a long run. When I hit 9 miles, I do a lower week the next week and then an 11 miler the third. Then I do a lower mileage week and then the race of 13.1.
Enlist a friend! This was the first half I’ve ever done with someone else, and it was great. We trained together, complained together, and raced together. I felt the support from her was one of the main reasons I continued on at points, and vice versa. If you have a friend crazy enough to run 13.1 miles with you, get her on board!
Get good shoes. This is a MUST! Go to a running store that offers fittings, have them check your stride and recommend the perfect shoe. I guarantee you it will make all the difference in your training and it will decrease your risk of injury. Most running stores offer prices similar to those you’ll find on Amazon or other places, and the stride check is typically free. You can even take in an old pair of sneakers so they can check out the wear pattern on the bottom.
Buy a foam roller – and use it! You can find this magical tool for about $20 (I got mine on Amazon). Use it to roll out your muscles after running and most nights of the week. This can alleviate any soreness while staving off injuries. And along with that . . .
Do yoga! Lots of it! Yoga is a must for long distance runners, I feel. Before I did daily yoga I wound up with pain in my hamstrings when I tried to increase mileage or speed. Now I do daily yoga, targeting poses for my hips, hamstrings, and piriformis, and I trained and ran that race without any type of injury.
Have you ever run a long distance race? If so, which one? And if not, what is holding you back?
Image via iStock
Kathy Murdock works as a full time writer and web designer. Recently planted in the middle of the deep south from the busy streets of Los Angeles, when she's not coding Wordpress websites or writing about women in business and thrifty motherhood, Kathy spends time ...Read More