Increasing Race Distance, Can I Do That?!

So you’ve just completed your first 5K, 10K, or half-marathon. Nice work! Now… what’s next? Many people look toward their next racing distance to tackle but are uncertain whether they will be able to handle the new distance or training load. The unknowns are maddening but with the right preparation and plan you can comfortably make the transition from the Shamrock Shuffle 5K to the Bluegrass 10K or Iron Horse to the Flying Pig. Here is the short list of things that you will need to conquer that next distance.

1)   Equipment – Make sure you have the right gear. Get a good pair of running shoes and some moisture wicking socks and running clothes to help you enjoy your training and avoid injury.

2)   Confidence – You’ve got to be able to believe it to achieve it. I cannot stress this enough. Having a positive mental attitude from the beginning of your training segment sets you up for a positive race and training experience, as well as a better overall performance.

3)   Be Realistic – When selecting a training plan, be sure you select one that you are ready for. If you’ve just run your first 5K, it’s probably not time to try to break the marathon world record. Think about your training history and what would be the next logical step. Maybe it’s moving up in distance or perhaps improving your time in the same distance. Zeal is great, but being over zealous can be a recipe for disaster.

4)   Consistency – Find a plan and stick to it. The more consistent your training, the more prepared you will be come race day.

5)   Trust your Training – It’s hard to do well and be consistent if you don’t buy into your training program. Find a schedule or coach who can provide a training plan that you trust and can stick to. Some of the best advice I received after high school was that, “If you trust your coach (training schedule), you will improve.” (Although, you will have better improvements in certain systems). If you lose that trust it’s time to move to a new system!

6)   Bad Days Happen – Know that you will have bad days during training. Even professionals have days that make them wonder whether they were cut out for this whole running thing. Take those days for what they are, a tough run or workout, and move forward. Better days are coming.

7)   Confidence (I know I already listed it!) – This is race day specific confidence. There are really two ways I have seen runner come into race day: anxious and unsure of themselves or excited and ready for action. We will all get some form of race day jitters, but it is how you interpret that feeling that is important. When those butterflies pop up, make the decision to say, “I’m getting excited! Let’s do this!”

There you have it. Now you are ready to move up from the 5k to the marathon. The only difference between you and Mr. or Ms. Marathon is some miles and time on your feet.

David Jankowski
Current John’s Run/Walk Shop employee and Lexington Catholic Track & Field Coach, David was the USATF Club XC Champion in 2009, was a 2 time Olympic Trials Qualifier and has a PB of 2:16 in the marathon and 28:14 in the 10K

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