Training for a race, especially a long distance race like a marathon or ultra-marathon, takes up a lot of your time. You must devote hours to running, cross training, and recovery. You also need to pay special attention to your diet and sleep so you can stay in the best shape. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with a big goal, especially if it seems far away. You may be tempted to let a few workouts slide or skip some aspects of training completely.
Unfortunately, inconsistent training will set you up for disappointment. You will not run the race you want if you do not train consistently.
Always Hit Your Mileage
Everyone has to miss a run or two during training. Life happens – you get sick, your family get sick, or you go out of town. However, consistently missing your runs will mess with your training and eventually your race. Your body needs to hit a certain mileage every week in order to safely increase mileage the next week. You also need to train your body to run when it is tired, so you can safely build your endurance. This is why it is key to run during the week and make your long run happen every weekend. If you have to skip a workout, skip a mid-week run. Your long run is your priority because it mimics the race the closest.
Do More Than Just Run
If you don’t consistently cross train and strength train, then your body will become weaker. It is easy to think that running is all you need to become a better runner, but staying strong is incredibly important. It will keep you from becoming injured, improve your form, and help you get faster. Make sure you are consistently strengthening your entire body and cross training to work different muscles.
Always Stretch and Foam Roll
How you recover is as important as how often you train. Make sure you are consistently stretching, foam rolling, and recovering between each workout. If you have a hard workout one day, do not push yourself to the maximum the next day! You will only tire yourself and you may get injured. Keeping your muscles loose will help them get stronger and make running less painful and awkward. It is safe to foam roll every day, so make sure you do it!
Pay Attention to your Sleep and Diet
When training for a big race, make sure you are sleeping as much as possible at night. Your body needs to recover from your day’s work out so it can go again the next day! Your diet also plays a role in this. If you consistently eat junk, then your body isn’t getting the fuel it needs to perform at its best. Stick with healthy foods and save the junk food for occasional treats. Otherwise, you may find yourself throwing up on your next run!
Consistent training is necessary for success on race day. Unfortunately, you can’t prepare for a big race in just a week or two. Your body needs time to adjust to the distance and be healthy enough to race on the big day. Stick with your workouts and make sure you are eating well, sleeping plenty and foam rolling. It will all be worth it once you hit your PR.