Building a base for summer races
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 22:03
As the weather slowly starts to turn around, it’s hard to ignore the masses of people who have come out of hibernation to join the running craze. Now is actually a good time to start training, especially if you’re planning on doing any races in the summer.
The first step is to determine what race you want to enter. This will help you to plan how many miles you need to feel comfortable running and also provides you with a good goal to work towards. For mornings when it’s raining or you feel like you don’t have the energy, knowing that you already paid for the race and have a set date will help give you an extra push out the door.
These early months are the ideal time to start building your running base. Start running three times a week at a distance or time that feels comfortable to you. It doesn’t matter if that’s 10 minutes or five miles. These should be confident boosters for you so make sure you’re not trying to overextend yourself.
In the beginning stages of getting in shape, you also shouldn’t worry yourself too much over the pace that you’re running at. The most important thing to focus on is just actually lacing up those sneakers and hitting the pavement or trails. The time that you spend building up your strength and endurance now will help tremendously when you begin working on getting faster.
When you’ve successfully completed two weeks at your baseline time or mileage, start increasing the distance by about 10 percent a week. Going from one mile a day to four, even if you think you can handle it, can be very damaging to your body. Injury prevention is important, and putting excessive strain on your muscles, ligaments and bones is never good. With the snow melted in most areas, try to find softer surfaces such as fields or trails to run on. Even running just next to the sidewalk on the grass can help save your body from the trials of pounding on the cement.
One of the best ways to help your running speed is to not just think about your leg strength but of the strength of your whole body. Try doing a couple sets of push-ups and core exercises such as a variety of crunches and planks. You can also head to the gym to use free weights for other arm, chest and back strengthening exercises.
In the winter months when it was snowing and there were subzero wind chills, it was easy to be enticed by the treadmills inside at the gym. However, it’s likely that your race will be outside on roads or trails rather than inside on a machine. Therefore, it is important that you begin to get comfortable pushing yourself to hit a target pace, without the treadmill pushing the pace for you while you hang on.
A final tip is to start eating healthy now. It’s amazing how much better your training can be if you have an eye towards your diet. Your body needs extra protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes, as you’ll be using more than you did previously. The night before the race is not the right time to start eating salads, lean protein or hydrating. This should be done months before so your body has time to absorb and adjust.