by Blake Raymond | Personal Trainer, Runner and Split Ambassador
You might be embarking on a lifelong distance-running journey, or just being encouraged to join a holiday race with family or friends. Either way, whether you’re training for a marathon or are getting excited for this season’s turkey trot, a charity 5k, or a local 10k - this one’s for you.
It's no secret that distance running is a year-round journey; races happen all over the world, all over the calendar, and for many of us, training, recovering, and preparing is a non-stop cycle. But if there had to be a single "marathon season", it's Fall – the cool, crisp air makes the body just a little more excited to get out there, and turn of the season brings a special kind of spirit energy to outdoor running outdoor events.
If you're ready for the big stage, head to Chicago, New York or even Berlin to participate in some of the worlds largest and most iconic events. You can also look towards smaller races like Portland or Minneapolis for some fall foliage and less-crowded courses. Destination runs are always tempting too; St George and Honolulu offer incredible runs with even more incredible scenery.
Once you've landed on when and where, the first step to a successful run is to…
The first (and probably most important) step to having a good run is committing early. That means signing up for a race! Mentally accept that you're doing this (you might be a little anxious but be stoked about it), and begin to physically prepare. I've heard plenty of "Oh, I'm thinking of doing a 5k!" talk, and then the season comes and go with no 5k'ing to speak of, and that is because you did not sign up. Not committing leaves you with an out, and more often than not, you'll fall for it.
Go forth, sign up, and get ready – you'll be glad you did!
Planning is everything! Mark the date in your calendar, and work backwards to build a training program. If you're starting from a relatively inactive baseline, it's important to build up your activity level incrementally – sprinting out the gates will have you frustrated or injured in no time. Take it week by week, and start by measuring time rather than distance. Don’t overwhelm yourself! Instead of setting a mileage goal in each session, commit to running for 20 minutes at any pace and see how far you can get!
From there, you can gauge your preparedness and build a calendar. Try to train at least 3 times a week, and never take more than 3 days off between sessions! Be sure to also section out the time to include a small warm up and some foam rolling before your training runs. And know that everything's easier with a buddy – try find a local running club, Facebook group, or a willing friend to help motivate you and hold you accountable.