Tried and TRUE Race Training Tips
Whether training for your first 5k or working to beat your personal marathon record our experts have compiled some tried and TRUE tips to take your training to the next level. From goal setting to footwear, treadmills to strength training, stretching to buddy workouts our veteran running enthusiasts share their tips and tactics to crossing the finish line.
To get started, it's important you have a clear understanding of your current fitness level and running expertise.
First Time Runners
Set your feet up for success. For those first time runners, we applaud you and your newfound facet of fitness training. Gym Source VIP Personal Trainer Kathy Goetz stresses, “don’t overlook the importance of proper footwear”.
Experts highly suggest going to your local running or athletic store to be sized and fitted for appropriate running shoes. “While you’re there consider treating yourself to some new training clothes and ensure you practice actually running in your race day outfit before the big day,” she explains. You’d hate to be uncomfortable and distracted by an itchy top or fitness pants that don’t fit right at the last minute. Mimicking race day as closely as possible helps things go smoother.
You are already hooked on running, and have a solid training program that works for you, but now you’re ready to beat your personal record, increase your distance and work on pace. But, what is the best way to challenge your current workouts to reach new goals?
Below are equipment experts and personal trainers their best tips to get started racing, or take your results to the next level.
How to set the right training and race goals for you.
- Get started with achievable goals
If you’ve never run a mile, a marathon may be a bit overzealous for your first race. While we appreciate the enthusiasm lofty goals can set you up for disappointment. Self check your fitness level, running experience, and training time frame before creating your goal. Plus, meeting milestones and feeling successful can act as motivational victories that keep you dedicated to your race plan.
- Make your goal specific
‘I want to run a 10k sometime in the near future’ is too vague. ‘I want to run the Thanksgiving Day 10k in under one hour’ however is much more definitive making it easier to track your successes.
- Create action items
A quantifiable goal creates obvious next steps such as registering for said race, booking necessary travel plans and creating your training schedule. These small steps set you up for success, and keep you committed to the process.
- Get a coach or professional help
Whether hiring a personal training, training with a friend who is a veteran runner, or utilizing an online training regiment there is no reason to reinvent the wheel or go at it alone.
“Joining a local running group or training with a buddy is great for accountability and motivation,” suggests Jan Schole running enthusiast and equipment expert at the Westport Gym Source.
We have partnered with a variety of personal trainers who can help. View our Gym Source personal trainer spotlights to get expert tips and advice on practical, effective workouts.
- Log your workouts
“A training log will help keep you organized and track your progress towards your race goal. Your log can include your distance, time, pace and how you feel on a particular day. You might also include entries for cross training days, rest days, fueling and nutrition,” explains Goetz.
“Investing in a GPS tracker or utilizing apps like Mapmyrun or Strava are a great place to start,” adds Schole.
- Incorporate Group Training into your race training program
On race day you aren’t running alone, you’re running with a crowd. Incorporating the competitive nature of running with others throughout training helps push you to increase your pace or go the extra mile. If your training buddy can do it, so can you!
- Compliment your cardio training with Strength Training
Many runners believe to run faster for longer they simply need to just keep running. However, supplementing cardio with strength training not only helps with injury prevention, but also makes you a stronger, faster, more competent runner.
Functional strength workouts such as squats, lunges and planks help with dynamic stability while plyometrics like jumping, hoping and skipping combat stiffness.
Need help determining the right strength training fitness equipment for you? View our ultimate guide to selecting the right strength solutions - Free Weights vs Machines: Pros and Cons to learn which versatile strength equipment – free weights or machines - provides the best workout for your goals.
Mike, a True Fitness personal trainer explains in depth below:
“As a runner, if the majority of your training consists of running then you are neglecting the fundamental need of your musculature. Running helps your aerobic conditioning, and if you keep pushing your aerobic system without increasing your strength you are more likely to succumb to an injury. I recommend that runners should spend at least two days a week incorporating strength training into their workout, making sets of exercises consist of about five repetitions. Make sure to do compound lifts and movements that are heavy, but relative to your ability, and that those lifts stress a lot of muscle mass. For example, squats, deadlifts, bench press, chin-ups or any combination of, are all great types of lifts.”
- Incorporate stretching before and after runs.
“Flexibility is key,” states Schole. "Most avid runners are no stranger to shin splints, runners knee or stress fractures. In addition to strength training, flexibility can help minimize injury."
Goetz explains, “foam rolling stretches out the myofascial tissues that tighten when you run. Focus on calves, hamstrings, glutes, inner/outer thigh and hip regions."
- Incorporate indoor cardio training into your workouts
While we of course encourage our runners to take their training to the streets before race day, we also advocate the use of treadmills and cross trainers for indoor training.
While obvious reasons include winter temperatures, rainy weather, or early sunsets less evident reasons include mimicking more difficult terrain, additional cushioning for ease of joints, incorporating a low-impact race training workout, and pushing you to pick up the pace.
Wondering which equipment is right for your training regiment, here’s our equipment experts guide to incorporate different cardio fitness equipment solutions into your workouts:
- Live in a flat residential neighborhood, but running your next race in hilly San Francisco? The True Fitness Alpine Runner is the perfect treadmill for practicing hills with an incline range of -3% to 30%.
-Looking to perfect your form and focus on controlling your speed? The Assault Air Runner would be a good match. Running completely on your own energy and no electrical consumption this treadmill allows you to take the muscle memory gained in your indoor training directly to the street.
- Need a treadmill that is great for your home gyms? True treadmills allow you to take your cardio to the next level. For example, the True PS800 Treadmill offers their True Soft System which puts less stress on your knees and joints.
- Need a low-impact cardio workouts? Don’t overlook the power of cross training on a good elliptical to give your joints a rest while keeping your heart rate up. The True M50 Elliptical allows you to actively increase your incline and resistance level while still giving your joints a rest.
Want more help creating the best race training program for your goals?
Your local equipment experts are standing by to match you with the right fitness equipment solutions for your goals.
Don’t forget we offer monthly financing making the tools you need to train more accessible than ever.
Looking to partner with a local trainer to help push you to the next level before race day? Our equipment experts have vetted local trainers they’d love to recommend. Reach out to your local Gym Source equipment expert for a personalized suggestion today.
We look forward to celebrating your goals alongside of you. Don’t forget to reach out to your equipment experts and share your success stories with us! Happy running.