We hear it all the time. Starting Jan 1st “New Year, New Me!” or “I’m going to exercise!” That’s great and we REALLY hope you’re one of the few that stick to it and don’t drop out two weeks in, especially after you paid for that new gym membership. If you’re like most people and want to get in better shape, signing up for a race is one of the best ways to keep the motivation going. Unlike setting a resolution of “being in shape” (cause what does that even mean? and how do you know when you’re there?) signing up for a race gives you a concrete WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW to get you there.
So….where do you start??
- Pick The Type of Race for you – What do you enjoy doing? Running? Biking? Swimming? All three? Jumping over walls and crawling under barbed wire?? Chances are there’s a race for what you already enjoy doing. Starting with something you like or used to enjoy doing can help keep the motivation going. (but……don’t let that stifle your curiosity if you want to try something new)
Active.com will have tons of races to look at, Spartan Races and Tough Mudders are super fun and challenging as well. If you’re cardio crazy maybe try a Tri!
- Distance – Next, you want to find a race that’s a juuuusssstttt a little outside your comfort zone. If you’re just starting out, sign up for the shortest distance. Even if it means you need to walk, crawl, float or roll to finish line. Make the distance winnable but not so easy you’re going to breeze through it without training.
- Book it! – Pick a date and book it. I like to give myself 2-3 months of lead time to train for most races and work out the kinks in training. Booking it also gives you a sunk cost. You ALREADY paid for this so you might as well get out of bed and start training.
- Make a Game Plan – Now that you know they type of race you’re doing, the distance and the date, you can work your plan backwards from there. You picked something a little out of your comfort zone so you’re going to have to work for it and build to it incrementally. How many weeks out are you? Where do you need to be by race day? Where should you be halfway to race day? Where are you at right now?
There are some great tools for this. The Nike Run Club app is great for training run distances. It’ll help you get to the distance you’re looking to hit and adjust as you get stronger/faster. One of the best resources is a coach or personal trainer. If you’ve got the resources I highly recommend working out a plan with them, including nutrition and built in rest days.
- TRAIN – Get out of bed and get going. You have the plan, you only have to do that ONE workout today so get after it. Yeah, it’s hard, that’s why everyone else has given up. You’re not everyone else. You want this. GO!
- Cross the finish line!!!
Some tips and tricks…
Rally the troops
Get friends to sign up with you and hold each other accountable. If you have to get up and go meet someone else it’s a lot harder to bail. My training partner picks me up on the down days and I do the same for her. Plus, it’s way more fun to train with friends.
Train how you’ll race
This is working out the kinks ahead of time. Use the same gear, same shoes and same fuel during your training as you do for racing. If something isn’t working you can adjust it before the race but you don’t want to show up on race day with surprises.
It’s okay to have bad training days
It happens and it can make you feel terrible but the key is to bounce back and try again tomorrow. You might have to make an adjustment or take a rest day but keep going.
Know your nutrition
Diet and exercise go hand in hand. When you start training for races you really start to notice that greasy food, extra beer or how little water you drank the day before. Race training goes great with pretty much any of the Food Challenges
“Trust the Process” – Sam Hinkie
You have a plan. Stick with it.
One of my favorite things to do when things start to feel hard is yell “This is F#*%ing AWESOME!” (I stole it from Amelia Boone who might be one of the coolest and toughest human beings on the planet) Most of the time I just need to think about yelling it and it makes me laugh. Remember, you’re doing this FOR YOU! It’s your race and your training to make YOU better so remember to enjoy it.