I know it is only July, but many runners are already training for their fall races or are getting ready to start training. Although I do not have to start training for my fall half marathon until September, it does not hurt to start preparing now so I am ready to go come day 1 of training. Training for a race, or multiple races, takes an all-around commitment. Everything from making sure you have the time to train for a race and have the physical and mental stamina to take on weeks of training. Whatever distance you are taking on, whether it be a full marathon, a half marathon, or a 10k, take some time to prepare for the fall racing season. Going into training prepared and ready from the start will help you to train smart and have fun along the way… because that is what is most important!
Write down your registered races on a calendar
While this might sound obvious, writing down races that you have registered for (here’s how I decide what races to register for) on a calendar, whether it be the one on your fridge or your planner, marks that commitment to your training and to your races. This also helps you to figure out when you need to start training. I know that I like to train for half marathons for 8 weeks, so I always write the race day down in my planner and count back 8 weeks to figure out when to start training. This also helps me to see what weeks may be busier than others and I can plan ahead to figure out how I will work my race training into those weeks. Knowing ahead where I may hit challenges allows me to plan for them and not let myself get stressed out at the last minute when I am working late and still need to get in a tempo run.
Purchase new running shoes
This should be the most exciting part of the preparations! Make sure that if your running shoes already have too many miles on them to purchase a new pair (here’s how I save money on buying running shoes because that sure can add up!). Do some research to figure out what shoe model is best for you, whether that means searching around online or heading into a local running store to get an analysis done. Make sure to have shoes that are ready for whatever distance race you are training for and that will hold up during your training, even if that means buying an extra pair to extend the life of both pairs. I like to have a pair that I will use on race day and will train with for my longer runs and another pair that I will use for speed work (a lighter pair). This will extend the life of both pairs by not putting too many unnecessary miles on either pair.
Decide on a training plan
Do this now. Don’t wait until your race is just a few weeks away to decide on how to train. Go into the training and racing season knowing exactly how you will train. Even if you do not follow a training plan, know how you will train, like what days you will get in long runs or how you will cross train. Because, trust me, if you do not figure these things out, they won’t happen since life will get in the way. For most races, I follow a training plan because I like the structure of following a specific plan, so a few weeks before I start training, I decide what training plan I will use. I have used a variety of plans from Hal Higdon’s training plan to the Nike Plus Run Club training plan. I know everyone looks for different things in a training plan so I would not want to suggest a certain plan over another, but I would suggest writing out everything you want in a plan and finding one that fits your specifications, even if that means getting a personalized plan from a running coach.
Out with the old, in with the new
Another exciting part of pre-training — go through your running clothing drawer (…or drawers) and decide what to keep and what to get rid of. Decide what clothing you will wear and figure out what shape it is in. Keep whatever is in good shape and will hold up with training and get rid of whatever is no longer training ready. Then for the fun part, go shopping to stock up on new gear. Whether that be a department store or a specialty running store, buy running gear that will make it through your training season (and hopefully longer). I make sure to have a handful of sports bras, running tops (both short sleeve and long sleeve), and running bottoms (shorts, capris, and legging pants). I also make sure to have gloves, hats, headbands, and anything else weather-related too. Fall training can vary from summer temperatures to winter temperatures and conditions, so I always want to be prepared with both so I am ready to get out and run no matter what the weather is.
Figure out fuel and hydration strategy
How are you going to fuel your runs? Figure out what energy gels or chews you will be using and how much so that you can stock up now, rather than the night before (totally been there, done that!). I usually only use energy gels when I have a 10+ mile run, so I figure out how many I will be doing and purchase accordingly. I also like to take this time to figure out how I will be hydrating myself during training since it is so important — even if it is not hot out!! I check my current stockpile of coconut water and electrolyte drinks/ powders and see what I need to buy for the training season. I like to have everything purchased and ready to go ahead of time so I don’t go into my pantry after a hot run hoping for a bottle of coconut water, only to realize I am all out… whomp, whomp.
I would love to hear how you get ready for a fresh training season! Do you take any time off before kicking off training, any pre-training rituals, let me know!