1. Run for a reason We all have our own reasons for running a race. Ask yourself, "Why am I doing this?" and remind yourself of the answer during your training cycle.
2. Train for at least 13 weeks 13 weeks is long enough to safely build up your long run, mileage and key workouts without losing motivation or getting stale with your training.
3. Buy two pairs of shoes Just as your body needs to recover after a long run or key workout, so do your kicks. Recent studies suggest that alternating between a couple different pairs of shoes in training can decrease running-related injury risk by varying the load to your musculoskeletal system.
4. Recruit a training partner Training is better with a buddy. A partner can keep you motivated and accountable when the miles rise or your workouts get more challenging.
5. Plan a 5K, a 10K or both Often known as a "tune up race", these can serve to keep you motivated, check your progress and take you out of your comfort zone providing a big confidence boost.
6. Run on different surfaces Try to switch up the surfaces you run on. Roads, trails, grass and treadmills all provide different stimulus and benefits. Much like switching up your running shoes, varying where you run can decrease running-related overuse injuries.
7. Practice at race pace Many runners will train slower or faster than the pace they hope to maintain for 13.1 miles and then wonder why they couldn’t do so on race day. Practice makes perfect!
8. Experiment with fuel Experiment with nutrition and hydration strategies prior to race day. Knowing how much and when to fuel your body will keep your stomach calm and your engine running strong.
9. Don't overdue long runs Plan your training in advance, carefully and slowly increase your mileage and aim for longest runs between 10-12 miles for beginners and 13-16 miles for experienced runners.
10. Study the course Learn as much as you can about your chosen course in the weeks leading up to the race. Is it hilly? Are there turns? Does it narrow in spots? Knowing the intracacies of the course you are planning to race on can give you confidence and leave you feeling more prepared on race day.
11. Train your mental muscles The most important thing to bring to the starting line is confidence in your training and ability. Mental fitness is equally important to physical fitness on race day. Visualize yourself on the course, strategize how you'll respond when you begin to tire, imagine yourself successfully fueling and hydrating to push beyond your own self-imposed limitations, use a mantra to stay strong.