1. Don’t ignore pain
Red flag symptoms that could indicate significant injury include night pain, swelling (particularly pitting oedema – when you press down on the area with a finger and the indentation remains after the pressure is removed) and/or inability to bear weight. These symptoms require immediate assessment by a musculoskeletal specialist and are your cue to stop exercising until a diagnosis and management plan is in place.
2. Listen to your body
If you are feeling consistently tight or sore in one area, it may to be a vulnerable or high stress location that is likely to require more attention than stretching. Visit a health professional for assessment and management.
3. Track your pace and distance
The golden rule for increasing training load is 10% increase per week – and don’t work on distance and pace in the same run.
4. Get connected
Use apps to help you track your mileage, elevation and pace. Study your stats and weekly progressions to see how you’re tracking against your goals.
5. Make sure you have the right shoes
A change to your usual training may require a new style of footwear, or you might need to ‘turn over’ your shoes more often as you clock up more mileage. A second pair may be worth considering. Always seek fitting and prescription advice from a reputable running shoe store or sports podiatrist.
6. Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Choose an event that challenges you, but isn’t an over commitment for your body or life. It’s a good idea to build up your events so you are starting with a base level of fitness. For example, start with 6km, then 14km, half marathon, full marathon etc.
7. Schedule times to train that fit with your life
This helps make training enjoyable, not a chore. Morning or lunchtime runs are invigorating and have many physiological effects that last the entire day.
8. Don’t try to overcompensate
Don’t fast-track your training program to make up for missed sessions. If you have had more than two weeks off, rewind your program the same number of weeks.
9. Know the event details
Is there a reasonable amount of time to train for it? What is the elevation? Do you need to carry a pack? If so, what do you need to carry? Is there a ‘cutoff’ duration it must be completed in? What season is it? What is the terrain? The answers to these questions will guide your training plan so you are optimally conditioned.
10. Read blogs for tips, tricks and motivation
Check out the event website and search for running blogs to arm yourself with knowledge and inspiration. Also, most events supply a generic training program (but note that these assume you have undertaken your ‘pre-training’ program first). If you want more guidance, seek help from a running coach.