Whether walking, swimming, or running is your thing, it’s important to educate yourself safely training for races. The exact training regimen you follow will be sport-specific. Triathlon training techniques should incorporate elements from each sport to be performed during the race, while marathon training techniques will emphasize endurance in running. But there are general steps that can be taken to prevent injuries no matter what your race is this year. Check out the following tips to train safely for this year’s marathon, triathlon, or walkathon.
1. Talk with a doctor or other health professional to ensure that you don’t have any health conditions contraindicating rigorous exercise.
2. If you’re new to rigorous exercise, set an appropriate, safe training schedule to ease you into shape. In order to prevent injuries, you need to slowly accustom your muscular and cardiovascular systems to the stresses of exercise. You’ll slowly build up endurance for a walkathon, triathlon or marathon. Check out our Running Program for Absolute Beginners for a sample training schedule.
3. Warm up before your workouts with dynamic stretches. These stretches, performed while moving, warm up your muscles and prep them for work, which helps prevent muscle strain. Don’t skimp on your warm-up. Dedicate a good 10 minutes this part of your workout.
4. Educate yourself about common injuries and how to prevent them. Consult our guide: 7 Common Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them.
5. Set a very reasonable goal. Unless you’re a seasoned athlete, your goal should simply be to finish the race, not to win it. A competitive mindset may seem like a good motivational tool, but it can lead to overtraining, which in turn leads to injury. Check out our racing attitude advice in the post Running Your First 5k is Easier Than You Think.
6. Cool down with static stretches after your workouts. These stretches, performed while holding still (don’t bounce!), replenish your tired muscles with fresh blood and help to flush out the waste products of generated during exercise. As with warming up, it’s a good idea to allot 10 minutes to cool-down stretches.
7. Obtain proper footwear for your specific foot type and the terrain on which you’ll be racing. Our guide, Choosing the Perfect Running Shoe, can help.
8. Don’t forget that a rigorous exercise schedule necessitates a healthy eating regimen. Your body needs proper nutrition, now more than ever. Plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains will ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need to stay strong and fit.
9. Water should be consumed several times per day, especially when you’re working out. Overheating and dehydration can knock you off your training schedule and onto the couch. An inadequate supply of water will also fail to keep your muscles well-nourished and leave you more susceptible to strains and soreness.