Have you ever thought about signing up to run a race, but aren’t a “runner” so talk yourself out of it? Starting can be incredibly intimidating, but what I love about running is you don’t need any special skills to do it. You just start by putting one foot in front of the other, increasing distance and speed over time.
I connected with Lauren Seib, a NASM certified personal trainer/online coach and group fitness instructor, to get her tips for preparing for your first race, whether that’s a 10K or half marathon.
1. Don’t Stress
You are not alone in your new quest! There will be tons of first-timers along the course, many of whom may even walk the majority of the race so you are in a safe, positive community. Believe in yourself, both on race day and every day leading up to it — celebrating your commitment to not only getting fit, but doing something for y-o-u!
2. Start Slow
I tore my achilles the first half marathon I trained for because I pushed too much too quickly. Give yourself 8-12 weeks of training time, depending on your current abilities and goals. You can slowly increase your mileage every week, making sure to recover with yoga and foam rolling days in between. I actually swear by incorporating barre/pilates and cross-training into a running routine, as it tones and strengthens with lots of stretching in between the “burns-so-good” work.
3. Work It In
Yes, you have to make time for this. Prioritize yourself, mama! I’m a big advocate for working out first thing so you get it in before the day gets away from you. If early alarms are not your jam, block off your workout in your calendar to make it a non-negotiable. Schedule out your running week (and get specific on mileage, tempo, etc.) so it’s on the family calendar. Including your kids — with stroller or outdoor cross-training sessions — a few times a week is also a great way to help get those workouts in. Another idea is to find a gym with a daycare or to schedule your workouts around your kid’s extra-curriculars.
4. Do/Eat/Drink What Works For You
I’ll never forget trying GU Energy Gel for the first time during mile 9 of my first half marathon. (Oh, and I over-hydrated the night before to say the very least…) The result? A not-so-pleasant adventure off of the beaten path in the middle of Central Park, NYC. Let’s just say I finished with only one sock. Take note during your training of night-before long run dinners, pre-workout snacks/mid-race fuel, and overall hydration. What works? What doesn’t? Do you feel energized with caffeine? Or is it too much on your gut? Stick to an easy-to-digest balance of carbs and protein sans GI distress-causing fiber. Example: granola/protein bars (I love Thunderbird and Larabars), half of a banana with a tbsp. of nut butter, “protein powder” pancakes, small bowl of oatmeal, hard boiled egg with carrot sticks and hummus, etc.
5. Find Your “Why”
What is pushing you to lace up those sneakers and get out there? Whenever you need inspiration to keep going think about the reason you started training in the first place. Whatever it is, let this drive that stride!
6. Phone A Friend
When it comes to rainy days or “I don’t feel like it” days, having someone to tap into for accountability is key. Plus, it’s so much more fun doing those longer training runs with a pal. Maybe a supportive fellow mama with similar goals will stride it out with you, stroller-by-stroller!
7. Go Shopping
Yes, seriously. The last thing you want are blisters, chafing or anything else of the matter getting in your way. I highly recommend getting a gait analysis for proper footwear and sweat-testing your race day attire prior to make sure that everything feels comfortable — undergarments included! Look for lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking materials to keep you dry from head to toe.
8. Map It Out
Check out the route before race day to familiarize yourself and maybe even shake out some of the nerves. That way you can feel confident with water station locations and any changes in elevation, plus scope out the best place for your cheer squad to hunker down!
Ravelle Worthington is a wife, momma of three, and the founder of Mommy Brain. Follow her on Instagram here.
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