How To Start Training For A Race
*Update: MY race has been postponed to September. Like everyone else I’m just going with the flow these days understanding that life as we knew it has completely changed for the time being.
Last week I officially started training for a race. It’ll be my first race in a few years…last year was SO crazy with selling a house, moving to a new city, then starting to build a brand new house. All my plans for 2019 got tossed out the window.
But I know myself and the best way to get motivated and into a fitness routine is having something to train for. Luckily my new home city, Spokane😀, has an extremely popular race so I have the PERFECT event to train for and get to make this place a little more home.
Blooomsday is a 12k (~7.5 miles) race most known for ‘Doomsday Hill’ which is a MASSIVE hill a little after the 5 mile mark. Sounds fun right?! I first learned of the race when I was itty bitty and growing up in the Seattle area because my mom & a group of her friends all trained for it and made it a girls weekend trip to run the race(and hit the spa after😉) Ever since I’ve always been interested but there was never a year where it made sense.
Then I moved to Spokane! It’s way easier to plan for a race when it’s literally where you live lol.
When you decide to sign up for a run the first thing you’re always going to ask yourself is “how to start training for a race”.
I’m now about two months out and switching into serious training mode. I’ve always been athletic, and I’ve run races before, so I’ve got a basic idea of how to put together a whole training plan. I’ve put together all of the different things I think about and plan for when it comes to getting into race shape!
Getting into a routine, or following a schedule, is like the number one item of training for a race. Obviously you need to put together something that works with your life and needs. For me, that means afternoons & evenings, along with running as little as possible.
Did I lose you?
That’s my biggest secret when it comes to all the races I train for, I’ve never like running. Oops. There’s just SO many other forms of exercise I love doing. However races are really fun, especially destination and/or popular ones(like Bloomsday!) and I need to have SOMETHING to train for or I won’t give fitness the time it deserves in my life.
That’s why when I put together my training schedule I only run once a week. But I’m not sitting on my butt all those other days! I’ll do other cardio twice a week-such as riding a bike/spinning, the elliptical, long hikes, etc. That means three days a week I’m pushing my heart rate and getting my sweat on. I just keep the running to a minimum.
The other 4 days I’ll usually strength train once, and then do yoga at least 3 days a week(if not more).
Like I said, it’s all about creating the schedule that works for you. If you like to run, great!! There’s all your cardio for the week. Or you can be like my mom who runs twice a week, but breaks it down into a short day and a long day, especially the further into training she goes.
Okay so you’ve figured out the routine you’re going incorporate into your week, but how does that get you to the actual event. This is where you pull out a calendar and figure out how long you have until it’s time for race day. This will determine a basis of how your training will go and how hard to you need to push. I’m about two months out so I’ll be pushing hard from the start. But I know my body really well and know that I can handle it. If it’s your first time really training for a race you’re ABSOLUTELY going to want to be cautious and factor in a few more weeks than you think you need to be safe.
When it comes to my running days during training I personally like to go the run/walk route to start. For those that don’t know what that it, it means I’ll set certain times to run and to walk before I start. For example on my very first runs during training it will be something like run 1 minute, walk 5 minutes. I’ll continue that pace for a set number of minutes or miles. Then as I get further into training the times will change- run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes, run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes- until I’m good to run the whole amount. I’ll also increase the length of time and/or distance each week. This is just one method of getting into running shape but after a few races (including a half marathon!) this is the strategy I know works for me.
One last thing regarding putting together both short-term and long-term schedules, especially in the consideration of ‘How to Start Training for a Race’ is thinking about what your main running day is and how that lines up with your race. For example since my schedule is pretty clear now I can pick any day of the week to be my ‘long’ run day. Since I know Bloomsday is on a Sunday, I’ll probably just pick that same day so there’s no changing up the schedule. But in previous training times I’ve had to use other days which means in the last two or so weeks I’ve had to move my schedule around to make sure my body is ready to go on a different day for the race.
This is something that isn’t a super big deal for shorter runs but a massive concern for the big ones!
~What Gear Do You Need?~
This is another topic that necessity grows with the race length. I’ll be doing a video on all of the exact things I use soon so keep an eye out on my youtube channel for that!
The most important thing is always going to be a good pair of running shoes. You can train and run pretty cheap, splurging on shoes though is always going to be worth it. A few years ago I had a fitting that included getting inserts molded to my feet and it’s the greatest ‘fitness’ piece of clothing or accessory I’ve ever had. It also helps make any running shoes better. So that’s another option I highly recommend. I have SUPER high arches and just live with it because can’t stand most arch support inserts. Having something that’s perfectly molded to my feet makes running incredibly more comfortable. And easier.
Honestly a couple of outfits, a good sports bra, and a good pair of shoes are all you need.
There’s plenty more that can make it easier, better, fun…like I said I’ll have a video up soon of the exact accessories I’m using right now. The few other basic things worth mentioning though are a smart/fitness watch, armband, running belt, and headbands!
How To Start Training For A Race essentials:
~Finding Where To Go~
Figuring out where to go to run and work out can be tricky. One of my FAVORITE things about Spokane is how many outdoor trails there are everywhere. And how easy they are to get to. I’m scarred for life from Seattle traffic😬. I will always pick being outside when it comes to working out so this is a new and very loved thing that’s different for this training plan.
The internet is a beautiful thing that we’ve all become completely reliant on, but that means you should be able to find LOTS of information about nearby trails and running routes where you may be. Running clubs are a great resource for this!
I totally get that it’s not possible for a lot of people though. Sometimes that means part of training is getting a gym membership where you’ll have access to machines. The great thing about gyms is that you’ll have multiple options when it comes to cardio training, and you won’t have to worry as much about time of day. If you’re schedule only has time for late night sessions, a gym is probably going to be safer.
For most people figuring out what to eat pre and post work outs isn’t a super hard deal. If it has a good amount of protein and you like the taste, you’re good to go. Once you get into longer runs it becomes more complicated, especially trying to find the ‘during’ run sugar boosts. Why is it so hard to figure out what candy works best when you’re at mile 11?? (I’m pretty sure the answer is Starbursts).
Anyways, for me food is never easy. When it comes to how to start training for a race the idea of figuring out snacks is followed by a huge groan. I do have to admit it has gotten much easier to be gluten & dairy free the last 5 years. It’s still a massive pain though! This is one area of training though that I’m still trying to figure out for myself. I’ll be doing a post sometime soon going much more into detail about this. Especially what I use, make, and like. Or just everything I’ve tried lol.
When you made the decision to train for a race I recommend finding a few different snacks you like and keeping a large stash. I like to keep a bin in my pantry that holds all of my nuts, granola bars, fruit snacks, etc. When it’s time for a work out I know exactly where to go to grab something for a boost. Costco is awesome for stocking up! Also post-work out smoothies with protein powder are a great treat. And they help you cool down😉
Are you feeling ready to go?! Whether it’s you first ever race, first long distance race, or just first race in a few years it can always feel like a big hurdle to start that first step. If you’re here though you’re already making progress and doing your research! That’s awesome!!
I’ll be doing a bunch more fitness posts here on Carefree & Coffee. These next few months will be running and training heavy. But there will also be biking, hiking, and everything Spokane has to offer outdoors. Which is SO much!
Let me know in the comments if you have ANY questions as you start your training! I’d love to talk and help out. Also just let me know which race you’re training for! I ran a half marathon in Las Vegas and it was an incredible experience. I want to hear all about where you’re going and what you’re doing. I’m always looking new race ideas!
How To Start Training For A Race
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Great tips! I remember being so excited to train for and race my first half marathon back in 2010 — I had no idea what I was doing! I didn’t have the right clothing or gear, and I had no clue what a GPS watch was, haha! But that race kick-started a love for distance running, something I’ve stuck with over the past decade. Three marathons and countless half marathons later and I still love it!
It’s been a LONG time since I trained for any type of race. For me, it was training for a bike race and it was about 35 years back! I remember the time and discipline it took, but it paid off in the end and it did provide a sense of accomplishment
How exciting! Sounds like you had a busy year last year! I’m happy for you that you were able to get back into running & races!
-Madi xo | http://www.everydaywithmadirae.com
Your post makes me want to get back out there and run! It’s been a while for me- but this may just be the motivation I need!
Great tips for beginners! I remember when I trained for my Disney Races. Those were the good old days. Now it’s hard to find time to run.
This is such a great guide! Signing up for a race has always been a little intimidating to me, but after reading this I’m more motivated than ever!