{How-to} Train for a 5k or a Marathon

Whether you have chosen to run a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, or marathon, this year you will want to take the time to prepare and train. Some of the elements that are involved to accomplish your goal are selecting a run, making sure you have the proper clothing, setting up a training program, and establishing a reward. If you include all of these elements into your training along withpreparing mentally, your overall experience will be rewarding.

Before you start any physical activity program, make sure you have seen your doctor for approval to start training. It is always good to know where your health is at and make sure you are not going to be injured due to any unforeseen conditions.

Choose a race
Once you have been cleared by the doc, pick a race or the time of year you would like to complete your goal. If you want to run a 5K in the summer, then find a race in the summer and register for it. Keep in mind that the further the distance you want to run, the more time you will need to set aside to train and prepare. There are also some runs that have entrance based on the lottery system due to the high number of people who want to compete. Have a backup plan in mind in case you do not get into the run or the weekend of your run does not end up working out for you. Here are some fantastic sites to visit to find a run that meets your goal. Your city’s recreation or a specialty running store may also have information on upcoming runs in your area.

Running in the USA 
Runner’s World 

Get your gear
Once you have a goal in mind, make sure you have the right clothing for training. If you are new to running, you may find that the most important piece of equipment is your footwear. Shoes can make your running experience miserable or enjoyable. Your foot and the way you run may be different from those around you, so it is important to find a shoe that fits your running style and foot. The best recommendation is to go to a specialty running store and try on several different brands of shoes to find the one that feels the best. Most specialty stores can help you pick shoes based on how you run. If you do not have this type of store around you, find shoes that support your foot and feel comfortable when you walk/run in them.

You may find over time that you want to get clothing that is more comfortable to run in and to lessen blisters and chaffing. Specific types of socks and clothing are important to help in these areas. For socks, consider trying double-layer socks. These can help decrease blister-causing friction on your feet. You can usually find a good pair for $6 to $10 and your feet will love you for it. 
It is not necessary, but if you decide to purchase specific clothing for running, I would recommend polyester shirts and running pants for colder weather and cool max shirts for running in warmer weather. Some also find it helpful to always wear spandex shorts when running. Runner’s World has a fantastic site to get an idea of the best types of material to wear based upon the conditions you are running in.

Make a training plan
Once you have the proper clothing that you would like to start off with, plan ahead to give yourself enough time to train. Find a training program that matches your level of fitness and start slowly. One of the quickest ways to give up on a goal is to start off too hard, over train, sustain an injury, and get frustrated. Also make sure during your training that you give your body days to rest and recover. And absolutely make sure you’re getting adequate sleep and proper nutrition. This will make a difference in your overall training and race experience.

There are several sources that may help you chooses a training program. Some have Sunday listed as a day to train. If you do not run on Sunday you can take the suggested workout idea and move it to Saturday or Monday and rest on Sunday.

Mayo Clinic Plan

Jeff Galloway Plan

Hal Higdon Plan

Set a reward
Last of all, make sure you pick a reward. You will have internal rewards from going further than you have in the past, pushing yourself harder, and finishing a race. Knowing that you have completed you goal is an amazing feeling, but it is also helpful to pick and external reward. Things such as treating yourself to a new book or going to the movies after you have made it half way through your training program or completed your race will help you move towards your goal on the days when you are having a hard time finding the motivation.

Training for a race can be rewarding and exciting if you are properly prepared. By picking a goal, getting the proper clothing, and giving yourself enough time to prepare, you will find that your overall experience is more rewarding than you imagined. The thrill of completing a goal and looking back over the months of preparation that you put into this goal provides a new sense of accomplishment and excitement. Have fun and don’t forget to enjoy the run!

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