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Missed training for the Country Music Marathon? 5 tips for tackling it next year.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – April 22, 2013 -- This Saturday, much of downtown Nashville will be closed to traffic, as runners from all around the country compete in the St. Jude Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon. But the event isn’t just for seasoned runners. Many beginners will participate, too, some having trained for 12 weeks or more for their first big running challenge. 

“The Country Music Marathon is a huge event here in Nashville. Some new runners participate just for fun, or to support St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. But for others, the marathon is a way to push themselves,” said Randy Hill, personal trainer, with Baptist Sports Medicine. “If you do the same workout every day, it gets boring and you stop progressing. Trying a new fitness challenge, like running a half marathon, can be a great way to shake things up.”   

With only days to go until the race, it’s too late for new runners to start training for the 2013 St. Jude’s Country Music Marathon. But Hill encourages aspiring runners to start thinking ahead to next year right now. Most training schedules recommend training for 10-12 weeks to be ready for a half marathon, but that timeline assumes the runner is already active and able to run 10-15 miles a week. True beginners – those that are not running regularly at the time they begin training – need to allow up to 1 year preparing  and training for either a half or full marathon with some 5K’s and 10K’s in the mix. 

“If you’d like to run a half marathon or a marathon, then think like an endurance athlete, not a sprinter. Taking a slow, steady approach will get you across the finish line,” Hill said. 

He recommends following these five step to build speed, stamina and endurance, without getting injured or burning out:     

  • Make a commitment – The first step is deciding to run a race and sticking to that decision. Put the event on your calendar and register for it as soon as you can. If possible, enlist a friend to run the race with you. Tell friends, family members and co-workers that you’re planning to run. Then, start running! Begin by trying to run a mile, but don’t get discouraged if you can’t make it that far. Instead, alternate between walking and running. As you build up endurance, you’ll be able to run one mile, then two, and so on. There are several run/walk programs available on line to give new runners some guidelines as they train. These programs are effective in assisting new runners in completing their first race. 
  • Eat for nutrition and strength: How runners eat affects their performance. Focus on eating natural, nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Eating well will ensure that you have the fuel you need to complete regular workouts.  Longer runs need to be fueled with sufficient good carbohydrates before and after the run as well as plenty of fluids. Low fat chocolate milk after a run is a good recovery food. 
  • Train for a 5K or a 10K: A 5K is 3.1 miles and a 10K is 6.2 miles. Training for one of these races will give you an achievable goal to work toward as you start running. Plus, you’ll get to experience what a “race day” course is like before you embark on a half marathon.       
  • Strengthen your whole body: Strength training is an important component of any sport, running included. It improves performance and decreases the risk of injury, so remember to add strength training exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups and sit-ups to your routine.  Women especially need to focus on strengthening the muscles in their lateral hips and trunk (both flexor and extensor side). Exercises like the “clamshell’’ and proper squats can be beneficial for the hips. Exercises like the “bird-dog” or prone “planks” are beneficial for the trunk.
  •  Pick a training schedule: When your half marathon race is just a few months away, pick a 10 or 12 week training schedule. There are many schedules available for free online. Most will include 5-6 days of workouts per week: 2-3 mid-length runs, 2-3 days of cross training, and one long run that increases in distance as you draw close to race day. 

Hill has one final piece of advice for all aspiring marathoners and half marathoners. 

“Believe in yourself,” he said. “Don’t sell yourself short by saying ‘I’m not a runner, I could never do that.’ Are you training to run a race? Then you’re a runner. And you can absolutely meet your goal, whether that’s finishing the race, making a certain time, or something else. You can do it.” 

For more information about Baptist Sports Medicine, please visit www.baptistsportsmedicine.com

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