How to create a running plan and stick to it

 It' that time of year when everyone seems to be training for a half or full marathon. As temperatures rise, runners are out in full force, getting ready for their next challenge. Yet, when it comes to scheduling your next one, it can be daunting. It' easy to get overwhelmed when you think, "how am I going to have time to prepare to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles?" Before you give up, create a plan that will help you reach your goal.
  1. Take the time to plan. It' important to see the full scope of how much time you will need to dedicate to running before race day. There are many preset options that can help you get started. Keep it in a place where you can see it every day, and be as detailed as possible.
  2. Identify any upcoming big events. Is your best friend' wedding the weekend before your race? Factor that into your schedule. If you know you have exams coming up or your daughter' birthday party is on the same day as one of your longer runs, be sure to include those details. Knowing possible hiccups in advance will help you stick to your schedule. Your running regimen shouldn't ruin your special event, but if you think about it sooner than later, you can make adjustments.
  3. Go ahead and register. When you register for the race and pay for it, you're more likely to stay motivated and put your plan into motion. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to prep leading up to the race. If you're a beginner, make sure you research how many months you'll need for preparation.
  4. Get the right gear. You'll need the proper attire and fuel to get to the finish line, including shoes, clothes, snacks, water, etc. When training, you should think about mapping out your routes in advance to include water stops. As you increase your distance, consider adding energy gels or small snacks to your long-distance runs. You don't want to wait until the race to try out a new food; do a few test runs with multiple products to find your favorite.
  5. Be flexible. Things come up. You may have something transpire one evening and miss your run that you had planned. Document what you missed and then get back to your regimen the next day. Don't try to make up for your missed workout by doubling the next one , this could lead to injury.
  6. Know yourself. You might get sick or have an injury that crops up. Don't push through it but take care of yourself instead. Yes, you may miss a few days or possibly even up to a week of training, but it will help you in the long run. You don't want to have to miss your event because you kept going and worsened your injury.
  7. Sign up with a friend. There are many reasons why running with someone else always makes the experience better, and it helps keep you accountable. After many weeks of dedication, it will be tempting to take one Saturday morning off, but when you know you have someone else waiting for you, you are more likely to follow through than if you are training solo.
  8. Schedule more than one race. If you're training for a half marathon, consider scheduling a couple of 5K or 10Ks in your program to keep you motivated throughout training and to practice running at race pace. The registrations can add up, so see if there are local running groups that organize their own 5Ks or 10Ks.
  9. Celebrate milestones. When you run 10 miles for the first time or have a PR in a 10K while running at race pace, you should celebrate your accomplishments along the way. Treat yourself to new running gear or enjoy a nice brunch with friends.
  10. Add in recovery time. Preparing for a race will take a toll on your body. If you take time after each run to stretch and even add yoga or other cross-training into your plan, you'll stay flexible and avoid possible injury. Consider purchasing recovery products, such as stretching straps or a foam roller to boost your recovery program.
Whether your next half marathon will be your first or tenth, it' important to have a plan in place and follow it. You don't want to arrive unprepared on the day of the big event or worse, unable to run at all. Good luck to everyone who has half marathons or marathons coming up and best of luck as you take on your next race!