- "What's the best training program?"
- "How do you stay motivated?"
- "What kind of shoes do you recommend?"
- "What are the best 5ks/mud runs/half-marathons around?"
- "Tell me your training secrets!"
These questions got me thinking about all the factors to consider while preparing for a distance race and what I wish I would have known about before I started planning my first race. So if you're thinking about running your first race, here are some things to explore:
- Find a race. Before you do anything, figure out what race you want to run! Look for a race that you think you'll enjoy. Active.com and local running stores (and their websites/social media) can help you find local races. Try Runner's World for other running related websites for reviews of larger races. Ask your runner friends and search for running-related blogs- you're bound to find great reviews of races that can make your decision easier.
- Identify your reasons for racing. I cannot stress this enough- before you start training, write down the reasons you want to do this race; to increase your fitness level, to achieve a goal, to honor a loved one's memory, to earn an awesome medal :-) Whatever your motivation, remember it. When the training sucks and you're tired and you just can't run anymore- remember the reasons you run.
- Select a training plan. There are tons out there: Couch to 5k, Jeff Galloway, and Hal Higdon are all good places to start. The best thing about training plans? They are completely customizable to your schedule and running ability.
- Get the right equipment. Whether it's a running watch, new running clothes, or awesome ear buds that don't hurt your ears (I recommend yurbuds), you'll need the right things to keep moving. Don't forget about a way to track your progress- I LOVE mapmyrun.com. It keeps track of all my miles, calories, and I don't need a fancy GPS watch to track my runs (but if you'd like to buy me one, I'd gladly accept!)
- Visit your local running store. Getting a pair of properly fitting running shoes isn't the only thing you'll find at your local store. The people that work in running stores (not the giant sporting goods stores) are usually runners themselves, have extensive knowledge of the sport, and are readily available for support and encouragement. Charm City Run is my absolute favorite :-)
- Be proud. You've done an awesome thing- committing to running your first race, no matter the distance, is one of coolest things you can do for your health and your self-esteem. And it can be such a fantastic experience!