The deed is done… you’ve signed up, and have 8 weeks to go till the event. It’s time to think about training! Options are 1) panic, do nothing and wing it on the big day, or 2) get a plan and start training. For the purposes of this blog, let’s go with the second option. We all need a training strategy, whether you’re running your first ever 5k or you’re a seasoned runner chasing down that elusive PB. Here we share Run Gatwick’s 8 top race training tips to help you prepare for your next race.
1. Personal Goal
In order to start planning, you need to think about what your goal is. This might include; run your first 5k, run a sub 30 minute 5k, set a new half marathon PB, or beat your husband/wife (delete as appropriate). All equally valid. Once you know your goal you can then move on to finding a suitable training plan that will help you achieve it.
2. Training Plan
You can find plans for everything online, including some from Run Gatwick. These training plans are great at focusing your weekly activity and keeping you on track whilst building up the all important mileage. Remember they are not set in stone and should work around your life. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a session because you’re sick, working late or if you would rather change some of the suggested sessions (NOTE” this does not include replacing hill training with pint lifting).
3. Running Club
For many runners, a running club can be instrumental in helping you prepare for not just your first race, but a lifelong running journey. As helpful as a printed plan is, actual one-to-one mentoring is invaluable. Coaches and fellow runners alike can help with your technique, injury prevention advice, useful race tips and be excellent company as you train. It can be hard to find the motivation to run on a miserable wet night, however if you’re off to meet 30 friends doing the same thing, it stops being a task!
4. Injury Prevention
Make sure you warm up before you head out – we know it adds more time, but it’ll save you from injury in the long term. Dynamic stretching is key; lunges, high knees, crossovers, all of which loosen up the legs as well as strengthen them. Post-run, make sure you warm down too! Lots of nice static stretches working on those calves, glutes, hamstrings and quads. If you do have any niggles, don’t ignore them. Take a couple of rest days (running through them generally never helps) or get help from a physio as soon as possible.
5. Strength training
Make sure your training plan incorporates 1-2 strength sessions a week, which helps protect and develop the muscles impacted by running. If some muscles are weak, others have to pick up the slack and can become overworked. Strength exercises can include press-ups, burpees, squats and lunges. Strength exercises should not be confused with high-fives, getting your running tights on or pushing yourself out of bed in the morning.
6. Speed work
If your prime goal is to beat your partner, then this tip is not to be missed. Speed work is often neglected for mileage, but is vital in that it builds stamina and enable you to learn how to push yourself physically and mentally on race day. Think ‘Eye of the Tiger’. Whether you’re a beginner or a regular runner, fartlek, intervals or speed sessions with short, fast, challenging sprints will all help your endurance.
Variety is the spice of life. It’s important to mix things up when you’re training for a race, not just because it’s good for your body, but also because it’s fun! If you already love to swim or cycle, make that one of your weekly cardio sessions. This will take the strain off some of your running muscles, whilst still building strength and stamina. If you’re nursing an injury, this is a great way of continuing training, whilst not exacerbating the problem.
Last but not least, try and make your training fun. Have a weekly run with a friend. Listen to music or a podcast. Download fun apps where you can pretend you’re being chased by zombies. Mix it up with cross-training and running clubs. Last but not least – enjoy the satisfaction of ticking off your training runs, one by one.
Good luck with your training for British Airways Run Gatwick. If you’ve not signed up yet, please visit www.rungatwick.com.