When a distance running event is coming up, the earlier you can start training, the better.
The 2023 UConn Health Half Marathon, 10K and 5K is Saturday, June 3, in Simsbury. And while that may seem like a long time away, in marathon-training terms, it really isn’t.
Experts from the UConn Institute for Sports Medicine say you need to allow time to build up your endurance, and doing so gradually will both yield better results and reduce injury risk. So if you already are running somewhat regularly, you likely have an aerobic base, giving a head start over those who haven’t been active. Those who aren’t running regularly are advised to get moving now rather than wait until a few days before the race.
Here are some recommendations from the sports medicine physicians and athletic trainers at the UConn Institute for Sports Medicine:
- Being aware of your fitness level can help with injury prevention. Deciding last-minute to join your friends, while well-intentioned, often can amke for too drastic an increase in volume and intensity, which are among the most common training errors.
- Come up with a weekly plan several weeks in advance of the race, one that builds in rest and recovery days.
- Once you’ve built your aerobic base up to match the distance you’re running, if you still have a few days, you can taper back somewhat right before the race so you’re not running marathon distances on a series of consecutive days.
- Add some variability to the training routine. As you build your distance, try running different routes, surfaces, and directions. Variety can help prevent overload types of injuries, and may come with the added benefit of making your run a little more interesting.
- Keep track of calories. As you increase mileage and volume, your calorie demands also will increase. If you don’t keep up you can deprive yourself of energy needed to train efficiently and become more susceptible to stress fractures, which can derail your training.
- You know you have to hydrate, and race-day hydration should start the day before and continue the morning of. If you wait until the first water stop after the starting line, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And overcompensating can cause hyponatremia, or low blood sodium, which lead to other problems that could require medical attention.
- Watch the weather, specifically, the heat. You’ll need to have a sense of the temperature on race day and try to acclimate to it — another reason to build up gradually. The heat should be another consideration when training, and you’ll want to adjust your workout accordingly to avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
The UConn Institute for Sports Medicine offers athletes customized evaluation and treatment plans, including a clinical exam and a biomechanical evaluation, to position them for optimal performance while reducing injury risk.
The UConn Health Half Marathon, 10K & 5K offers variety of in-person and virtual races are available for different distances and age groups. All participants receive technical short-sleeve shirts and race finisher medals. Race-day volunteers are also welcome. Learn more about the 2023 UConn Health Half Marathon, 10K and 5K.