Training for long distance races

After looking for something to motivate me to stay consistent with my exercise, I believe I’ve found the answer. Last month, I started training for a few progressively longer races, with the hopes of potentially running a marathon at the very beginning of June.

It has been some time since I have run in any long distance races. I used to run 5Ks when I was much younger, and I ran cross country when I was in high school. I forgot how much I like working towards progressively harder goals.

I plan to run in a few local 3 and 4 mile trail runs in the next month, and a 10K on the 25th. From there, I’ll assess where I’m at and potentially sign up for a half marathon at the end of April and run a couple other short local races in March. I also want to participate in the Warrior Dash in May to raise money for St. Jude’s. The Warrior Dash takes place all over the country, and there is one down here in Southern Maryland.

By May I should know if I’ll be able to run a marathon at the beginning of June (It all depends on whether I’m pregnant by then). The North Face Endurance Challenge is in Washington D.C. on June 2.

I’ll be sure to post some photos from various events. I may even be wearing some me-made exercise clothing. I have made some exercise clothing over the past year, but I’ve never shared on the blog.

I just finished reading Born to Run, by Chris McDougall. I started reading after I had begun training, and it has definitely inspired me to keep at it.

This week I started to change my running form (forefoot running–mimicking the way I would run barefoot), and I cannot believe how much more I enjoy running. I feel like I am gliding across the ground, and I’m not embarrassed at the thought of other people seeing me run (My old running form was the antithesis of graceful. As my dad used to say when he watched me run during soccer games, I always looked like I was falling over). I ran seven miles on Tuesday with the new form. It takes a lot of focus to get it right. My calves and shins burned for about four miles, but after that I felt wonderful. I was actually enjoying the hills the most. It felt so natural, and as unbelievable as this sounds, I shaved one minute per mile off of my typical time. On top of that, I didn’t have any knee or hip pain.

I’m paying the price for running too far for my first time trying forefoot running, but after I’d figured out the rhythm, I couldn’t run any other way. My calves hurt so bad I have to limp around, and I seem to have awakened leg muscles I never knew I had. Yesterday, my calves were so stiff I could barely limp, and the first trip up the stairs was more of a hands-and-knees crawl. However, by the end of the day, I’d loosened up enough that I was able to squeeze in a four mile run. It’s weird, but I felt better while I was running. I wasn’t limping at all. That feeling made me want to run longer, but I managed to resist that urge. I know that I could easily injure myself by going overboard while changing my running form.

Anyway, my next step is to go buy some minimalist trail shoes. I need new running shoes anyway (the heel padding has gone all lumpy, and it’s uncomfortable). Also, I think my calves are excessively sore because I may be having to point my toe slightly in order to forefoot strike, due to the amount of heel padding in my shoes.

Has anybody else trained for long distances before? Does anybody have any suggestions for races in the Maryland/D.C./Virginia area? I would love to start running for causes. If anyone reading this knows of any races, please let me know. Also, if any of you are runners, feel free to share your tips about proper diet, running techniques, or just any general running tips you can think of.

  1. Rebekah Key

    February 19, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Becca! You totally brought back all my fond memories of training with you for cross country:) I never really enjoyed the running, but it was definitely the relationships that kept me going. Keep up the good work. You go girl!

    1. Becca

      February 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Aww! Those days were so much fun! I miss having you as a running partner. Thanks! 🙂

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