I'm two weeks away from running my first half-marathon of the season at the Disney Wine and Dine half-marathon. This is my favorite run at Disney as it is all done at night starting at 10:00pm on October 1st. With just two weeks away and my first training run in double digits, 10 miles, I am starting to think about all of the planning that goes into being prepared to run a race.
Of course the first step is to get out the door and start putting one foot in front of the other. To do that you need motivation, this might be losing weight, raising funds for a good cause, or just making sure you stay in shape. After you find your motivation you need a training schedule. Then, of course, you need to stay on track with each of the scheduled long runs, weekday runs and find time for cross training. (See a previous post on tips for this). I have chosen to run with the Galloway program, which has a great training plan that includes interval running and walking. There are other programs out there and I highly recommend the training plans on Active.com. You can download your plan based on distance as well as your ability. (i.e., Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced).
The next step is getting a great pair of shoes. This doesn't mean that you should run to your local discount shoe store. Instead, I recommend finding a running specialty store. These stores hire people who are runners; they are trained to find you a shoe that fits your running style. Most running stores will watch you run and will determine the best shoe for you and only you. We are all unique. This means that your shoe may not be the color you like and they may or may not cost more than you wanted to spend. Most importantly, ensuring that you are injury free will cost you less in the long run. If you are looking for a national store that is dedicated to running, see if Fleet Feet is in your area.
While you are at the running store pick up some running specific clothes that are made from wicking, dry-fit material. Just remember the saying, "Cotton is Rotten". This includes socks and undergarments. Believe me, you will thank me later.
Last but not least, make sure to plan what you will eat before and during the race. Test your food choices before every long run until you find the food that works for you, and then make sure that you stick to the plan on race day. A race like the Disney Wine and Dine half-marathon creates a challenge. Especially, if you don't normally run late into the night. I've found that pasta the night before and pancakes in the morning with a small lunch of chicken and pasta works best. Don't head out and try all of the great foods, on race day, at the Food and Wine Festival. If running longer than a 10k start testing things like GU and Gatorade. This will help you with energy and hydration. I do suggest checking out the race details to see what they will be serving on race day. Again you don't want to try anything new that day.
So how does one learn all of these tips? Years of running and making some really bad mistakes. But no worries if you plan ahead you will have success on racing day.
Now get out there and run.