You did it! You decided to put yourself first in 2020. Or to create some audacious goal to work towards. Or you lost a bet. Or got talked into participating by someone that said, “C’mon, I’ll help you. It will be great. You will do amazing.” You’ve posted on social media that you’re all signed up and you’ve told people … now you’re freaking!! Regardless of the path that got you to HERE, you’re registered for the Community First Fox Cities Marathon, half marathon, relay, 10K or 5K. NOW WHAT? NOTHING.
You read that right, nothing. At least not for this September goal race … stay with me here. Most training programs are 20-, 16-, or 12-weeks long. Eight to 10-weeks if you’re headed for the 5K. If you start training for September now, you can almost guarantee burn-out or injury or BOTH before you get there. We see it and problem-solve customers through it all the time. So, here’s what you do instead. YOU PREPARE.
- Get Moving
I know, this sounds contradictory to the last statement. But here’s the thing. If running/walking is not already part of your current schedule, then the sooner you get started the better your body will adapt as training intensity increases. But look too far out into the future and it can be overwhelming. So just get started. If you need that target to aim for, find a spring race; something shorter to work towards so you can accumulate small wins along your journey. Add 1 or 2 more workouts per week and build your base. Get in the habit now, just keep your eyes on a closer prize.
- Questions to ask: Where do workouts fit into my current schedule? What can my body tolerate now so that it gets stronger, leaner, fitter, less achy? How can I build a strong foundation in my current routine?
- Additional Reading: 5-Minute Full Body Strength Workout for Runners
- Get Your Food/Fuel Right
You cannot outrun your fork. Believe me, I’ve tried. It does not work. The sooner you make small adjustments to the areas that need to be tweaked the more effectively you will be able to fuel your body when your training actually begins. And the less overwhelming it will feel.
- Questions to ask: What can I adjust now to have a long-term impact? What am I willing to give up? Can I add something instead of eliminating, so it doesn’t feel like I’m having to sacrifice? Do I have energy to sustain my nutritional needs?
- Additional Reading: What Every Runner Needs to Know about Iron Deficiency
- Organize Your Schedule
Nothing derails a plan more than trying to lob hours of working out on top of an already leaning tower of responsibilities and expectations. Most of us are already looking for the life hacks that make us feel like we have more hours in the day. Guess what you never get? More than 24-hours in a day. So, you can begin now building efficiencies into your days or cross your fingers that the laundry fairy will magically show up every Sunday evening beginning in May, having grocery shopped for you on her way to your place.
- Questions to ask: What are you willing to give up? Who is available to help you out?
- Additional Reading: The 12-weeks of Half Marathon Training
- Find Your People
Running can be as solitary or social as you want it to be but don’t let your fear of being accepted limit you from finding your people. We runners love to talk about ourselves, but more than that, we love to share what’s worked and get excited with you! If you don’t know where to start, turn to someone that you know runs/walks. Find a group that you have something in common with to hold you accountable or to ask questions. Or get on the internet.
- Questions to ask: What do I need from ‘my people’ (maybe you don’t need a running buddy, maybe you need a babysitter or a longer lunch break)? Who will encourage and support me? Do I want to spend time with my people in-person or online?
- Additional Reading: 13 Running Podcasts to Try in 2020
Think about these questions and take action on a few of them. Then watch for the rest of the list of preparation items coming in March!
About the author: Leah Schapiro, Fleet Feet Fox Valley, is a 4-time Ironman Finisher, 8-time Marathoner, and dreams of re-finding the balance to follow her own training advice & to eventually get back to a sub-1:50 half marathon. That is not the current chapter, which is OK. She loves sharing her thoughts with other athletes and LOVES writing in all-caps. She’s not yelling, she’s just SO. EXCITED. about your goals!!