10 Tips for Your First Pain-Free Event
Running a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon is a safe, effective and enjoyable way to get fit, learn to run well, and have a great time with others.
Learn to run well? Who needs to learn to run? Actually, most of us. If you want to train for an event but find running challenging or painful, the ChiRunning technique will help you lighten your step, steady your breathing and make running truly enjoyable. Training for an event can be easy with good running technique and a program to guide you through your running workouts.
By training mindfully and listening to what your body really needs, you too can run a pain-free event, replete with the deep joy of true accomplishment.
Here are 10 tips to help you get started on the path to running an event:
- Start from where you are. Sounds obvious, but most people try to do too much too soon considering their current level of fitness. Many runners consider pain a natural part of running and try running through the pain. Start by doing an assessment of your running level and note any aches and pains associated with running. Then move to step 2.
- Give yourself plenty of time to train. For an absolute beginning runner or anyone who has pain or injury associated with running, we suggest a minimum of 8 weeks of training for a 5K, 10 weeks for a 10K, 16 weeks for a half marathon, and 24 weeks for a marathon.
- Have a vision for how you want to feel during and after your half marathon. See yourself at the finish line, feeling strong, centered and with a grin that you can’t contain. Visualize how you’ll feel during the training as you get stronger, healthier and more confident.
- Take time to learn good running technique. In our training programs you go through phases of training, the first being the Technique Phase. During this phase, you build mileage very gradually because, first and foremost, you're learning to run well. Good running technique means that you are running efficiently by using your core muscles, relaxing deeply, keeping your posture straight and tall, leaning slightly forward to engage gravity, and landing with a midfoot strike.
- The second phase of your training is the Conditioning Phase where you start adding more miles. Make sure you can maintain your technique as you build mileage. This means if you feel pain or discomfort, you go back to your toolkit from the Technique Phase and continue to work on technique–not necessarily strength–to increase your distance.
- If it’s your first half marathon, don’t worry about speed at all. Too many runners get injured trying to live up to an unreasonable time goal. Speed happens as a result of good technique and conditioning. If you let the Technique and Conditioning phases do their jobs, speed will come.
- After the Conditioning Phase comes the Mastery Phase of your training. This is where you will master your event by practicing different aspects of your event during your workouts. Visualize yourself at the start line and see yourself staying centered, starting at your own pace, and not getting caught up in the frenzy of going out too fast. Starting an event too fast is the demise of many runners. Let your body find the pace that is best for you.
- Have a plan for hydrating and fueling during your event, and practice your hydration and fueling strategy during the Mastery Phase. Your Mastery Phase is the dress rehearsal for your event. Never eat anything at the event you have not ingested while training. Know what you’re going to eat, and when, from your pre-race banana to the water, electrolytes and gels on the run.
- Reduce your mileage and learn to contain and store your energy for the last week before your event. Your runs should be shorter, but not slower. Practice your pacing during shorter workouts, while saving as much energy as possible for your event.
- Enjoy yourself at your event! Smile at others, thank volunteers, cheer others on, feel the joy of having a healthy body that can complete a distance event.
To learn about what to do for post-race recovery, click here.