Let’s break down the specific training aspects we face in preparation for our goal event:
Distance, Pace, Terrain, Time of day, Weather, and Altitude
DISTANCE: the actual amount of miles the event calls for
To perform and reach your best potential for the goal event, one must employ additional mileage above and beyond the event distance. Let’s look at the long walk/run day example for common event distances. (I recommend every other week (EOW) for 6 weeks or so before the actual event)
5K – one should do a 6 – 10 mile EOW
10K – one should do a 10 – 15 mile EOW
15K - one should do a 12 – 16 mile EOW
13.1 – one should do a 13 – 18 mile EOW
26.2 – one should do a 13 – 20 mile EOW ,
then 22 mile, then 24 mile, then 26 mile - EOW
Note: long walks and runs are done 2-3 minutes slower than goal pace.
DESIRED PACE: the amount of minutes per mile for the entire distance
To hold your desired pace, the body should be trained to run a bit faster at least once a week. An example would be a goal 5K distance at an average 10 min. pace. Every other week, implement 2-3 minutes per mile at 9:30 min. pace. Get to a point where you can do 3 x 1 mile repeats at 9:30 pace. Bingo; you will get your 30:00 min. 5K!
TERRAIN: The elevation and undulations of the surface the event is on.
Many of us Floridians are fixated with running or walking on flat surfaces and seek flat surface race events as a result. However, hilly events don’t need to be subtracted from their distance choices. For those doing a flat event need to be practicing their goal pace on flat surfaces so the foot strike and overall body mechanics become efficient. The same rule holds true if one decides to do a race with lots of hills. At least every other week and do hill work, or stair work, or find a treadmill with a steep incline. The foot strike and landing pattern are more demanding with hills; not to mention the overall impact on the body. Watch out for treadmills because they are not specific to outside walking or running. Lastly, trail runners and walkers must practice not only on rough terrain and in the trails, but must employ hill training due to the higher lift of gait needed to sustain running through grass, rocks, limbs, etc.
TIME OF DAY: It is best for us to practice frequently the same start time of the actual event.
The digestive track, the climate, and our mental set need to adapt to the race start time. Some races are in the evening which gives us a challenge as to what to eat not to mention the edema, or slight swelling in the ankles after a full day of standing. With this in mind, practice your walk or run once a week in the evening.
WEATHER: Try your best to practice in similar temperatures and weather of the race.
Warm, mild weather running in Florida allows our muscles to stretch out fully during the run. Both walkers and runners enjoy warmer weather because of this. However, there are countless Floridians who go up north for the weekend and run an event with a 20-30 degree temperature difference. Be prepared for the physiological difference. The muscles get tight, joints get stiff, and as you slow toward the end, leg cramping can set in, etc. Cool temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s is nice, however freezing weather is not the best for most Florida walkers and runners.
ALTITUDE: Breathing in high altitudes while walking and running long distance events becomes extremely challenging for those who have not acclimated to the higher altitudes due to less oxygen being available as the breathing process transpires.
It may be advised to get an altitude training mask to get your lungs and breathing ready before the race. Or spend a week in the altitude your event is in (a bit more costly but it works!)
In a nutshell, try your best to gather all the details mentioned about your goal event. Then methodically begin training specifically for the event. Paying specific attention to those details in training and implementing these aspects will definitely give you a more favorable outcome for your goal event.