Springtime and the Running Is Easy!
Running is a great sport for its sheer simplicity. Lace up your shoes and no matter where you are you can soon get out for a stress-busting run. Best of all, it is free. You can do it alone or join a group of friends or just join a practice group at your local Running Room and meet some new friends.
You could also enter in a race. If you've never raced or if it's been a long time since you raced, here's how to get started.
A race will boost your motivation and provide you with a goal for your training. Your training runs will have a new purpose and will become more enjoyable and easier with a goal.
Racing is social—runners cheer and encourage each other, to perform to their best. Many friendships develop during and after a race as runners reflect on their shared experiences and thoughts. Racing also improves your self esteem. Run hard. Run easy. Run fast or slow when you cross the finish line. You will feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment. The energy and synergy of the crowd at the race will help you run faster, and you won't even realize it. Racing improves your form, and you learn to run more efficiently in an uncomfortable zone. Racing is speed work in disguise. Racing is fun!
Select the race distance that is right for you.
A 5K is a great entry-level race for the novice or for the runner coming off a cold winter of training. The distance is short, so you will recover fast. Recovery only takes a few days. Even on hot days you will be fine if you drink plenty of fluids prior to the race.
A 10K is a challenging distance with most runners racing at a high level of intensity. This distance requires some serious training; be sure you are prepared by following the structure of a training program. You will also need some easy days of tapering prior to the race.
A half marathon is a great distance: you get all the rewards of the marathon and recover twice as fast. I recommend runners follow the run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute program during training for this event.
Be sure to arrive early for the race to check in, and get your race number, timing chip and last-minute instructions. Be sure you have all your gear with you. (Check with the race director or the race website, and print off clear instructions beforehand.) The race number goes on the front of your shirt, and the timing chip affixes to your shoe. Most races have a check-in area to stash your belongings. Before the race, include a warm up and cool down as well as some stretching. Position yourself in the starting area with people of similar ability to yours. Doing so will keep you from starting too fast.