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How to get in better shape for your fall running races

Women's Health's RUN10 FEED10
Women's Health's RUN10 FEED10
Women's Health's RUN10 FEED10

Have you signed up for a fall running race? If so, you've probably already been putting in the miles to get ready. But there are a few other things you can do to make sure you are fit and ready at the starting line. Try these 3 things to get in better shape before your big event.

Prepare yourself with shorter races.

If your first marathon is in the coming months, schedule a few shorter races beforehand to prepare yourself for the longer distance. Both your body and mind will benefit. Need an idea for a shorter race? Sign up for the Women's Health's RUN10 FEED10 Fun Run in Plymouth on Saturday, September 13. The event helps fight domestic hunger in partnership with FEED, the organization founded by philanthropist and social entrepreneur Lauren Bush Lauren.

The event is hosted by by Next Fitness Star winner Stacie Clark at Tiger Fit Studios. Registration is $35, and a donation of 10 meals to a food bank will be made on the runner’s behalf. Also included in the registration fee is a 2014 limited edition FEED bag and a FEED bracelet as a special finisher prize.

Schedule recovery workouts

If you have a goal to finish your fall race in a certain time, you're probably doing speed and hill work to build strength and pace. But you also need to do recovery workouts to allow your muscles to rebuild. It's not a bad mental break either.

On the days after your hardest workouts, do easy exercise sessions that involve some kind of cross training. These workouts burn calories and improve fitness but also increase range of motion in your joints and give your body a break.

Evaluate your diet

One of the most common mistakes that new marathoners and runners make is eating the wrong number of calories. It's easy to justify an indulgent high-fat or high-starch meal after you've completed a long run. But it's also easy to end up at the starting line heavier than you expected.

Invest in a session or two with a qualified sports nutritionist (preferably an RD). Your dietitian will make sure that you get the energy you need to fuel your workouts but not so much that you overdo it.

Remember to listen to your body, train smart and rest when needed and you'll be fitter, faster and stronger on race day.