A Runner’s Guide to Training & Racing

Whether you’re just beginning as a runner or are gearing up to complete a marathon, both establishing and sticking to a training plan will help see you to the finish line.

Here’s some advice on staying safe and preparing for race day.

When Training

● As a runner, it’s always important that you are aware of your surroundings. If you live in a bustling city, try and avoid traffic and stop lights by finding a park, bridge, or track where you can run. Make sure you can still hear horns as well as other pedestrians even if you have your headphones in.

● Set goals and keep track of your personal records. Practice often, increasing the distance as you go. Consider having a running partner who will motivate you to push yourself.

● Stay hydrated and be sure you’re getting enough sodium so you don’t cramp up, get headaches, or become dizzy.

● Take the weather into consideration and grab either sunscreen or extra layers. Runner’s World warns of running at a fast pace during hot weather because “your body simply can’t supply enough blood to both cool you off and sustain your working muscles.”

On Race Day

● Before a race, stay away from fats and high fiber foods. Instead, opt for lean meats and carbohydrates that are easy to digest.

● Pace yourself and plan for tough stretches in the race, getting through them by focusing on your breathing and keeping a positive mindset. Runner’s World suggests “practicing visualization–breaking the race into segments and seeing yourself completing each one successfully–will stoke your confidence.”

● Plan for extra traffic on race day, and give yourself time to warm up and stretch properly. Know the terrain you’re going to be running on and be careful of rocks and twigs that may be on the path. Have a first aid kit ready with vaseline to prevent blisters and athletic tape for foot and ankle injuries.

● Just to be safe, make sure you are aware of the signs of a medical emergency both for you as well as for other runners. Run Society states that “tell-tale signs of heat stroke are headache, rapid breathing and/or heart rate, nausea, vomiting, flushed skin, an altered mental state, sweating and high body temperature.”

Remember that running is good for your mental health and for those recovering from depression or addiction. Make the most of this experience on a mental and spiritual level by appreciating the scenery and taking in nature. 

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