The Importance of Proper Training
If you’re going to do it, do it right! Really, there’s no sense in deciding to run a race if you aren’t going to properly train for it. Why? Because it’ll make it that much harder on you if you don’t and it will cause you to hate running. Sure, sometimes the circumstances don’t allow for perfect training, for example, I decided to run my first half marathon five weeks before race day. I trained for it, but obviously only for five weeks, which is not recommended unless you’re a seasoned runner, which I wasn’t. I was in shape from my other workout routines, but I was certainly not in running shape. I was able to finish the race, but I’ll tell you, those last three miles were certainly a struggle.
There are numerous resources available to help you properly train for your first, or really, any race. A quick search online will bring up sample training plans for any distance race with various time lengths. That way you can pick the perfect one for you; whether you have eight weeks or eight months until your race. Another route you can take is training with a team. For my second half marathon I trained with Team in Training (TNT). We not only had scheduled training runs, but we also raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I highly recommend training with a team. It’s a great way to meet new people and make sure you’re staying on track and building your mileage at an appropriate rate. Plus, on race day you’ll have hundreds of teammates, coaches, mentors, and supporters all along the course cheering you on; as well as several people you’re used to running with by your side from start to finish.
For my second and third half marathons, I trained with TNT. I felt extremely prepared for my second race, until I woke up the morning before the big day with a bad cold. Even though I felt horrible and drained on race day, since I had trained properly, I still finished about 20 seconds faster than my first half marathon. For my third race, I again was well prepared thanks to TNT, and was able to shave five minutes off my time.
My fourth half marathon is this coming weekend and I am kicking myself for not signing up to train with a team because I did a horrible job training and do not feel prepared for this race. Will I finish? Yes. Will I enjoy it? Probably not, but that’s my fault. As I stated earlier, when you properly train for these races, the event is that much easier on your body physically and mentally. One thing that is often overlooked in physical challenges such as marathons is the psychological aspect. I would argue that this is the toughest part. Knowing you are as prepared as possible and you have a huge support team at your side, is more comforting and empowering than you could imagine.
So take my word for it, don’t set yourself up for a miserable challenge on race day. Take every measure to make sure you are bringing your “A” game to the starting line. Your body and your mind will thank you.