5 Essential Tips to Prepare for Your Fall Races

Well, it’s August and as runners, we know what that means. Time to train for our fall races!

No matter your ability level, it’s important to follow a certain routine to get your body prepared. Whether it’s a 5K or a full marathon, you need to understand the dedication it takes to cross the finish line strong.

The late Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, had as his second habit, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Well, that’s exactly what you’re doing here.  You know your goal is to finish your fall race.

That said, how are you going to get there? I’m glad you asked. Let’s explore five essential tips to get you prepared for your fall race.

You must have the right shoes and gear.

In my experience with running, shoes are everything.

Throughout my days running cross-country and track in high school, I had terrible shin splint pain. It caused me to miss time here and there.

When I started running again in 2014, I made it a point to get the right shoes. That’s when I fell in love with Brooks. The support I get is second to none – and I have little to no shin pain when I ramp up my training sessions.

If you’re beginning your training for fall, consider researching what shoes will be right for you. Go to a local Charm City Run store and have them run a gait analysis.

You should be eating (and hydrating) for fuel rather than fun.

Don’t make the common mistake of thinking you can eat anything you want as you’re training. I ran into this during my marathon training. Since I was burning so many calories during a 15 or 18 mile run, I felt like I could eat everything on the menu.

And I did. It didn’t affect me much until after I ran the marathon – and stopped training. I kept the appetite and it caused me to gain back a lot of the weight I initially lost from running. Not a great position to be in.

Plus, I wasn’t providing my body with the proper nutrition it needed. I was stuffing myself with junk rather fueling myself for health and recovery.

On top of that, you need to drink plenty of water. I don’t just mean right before, during, or right after your runs. I’m talking about throughout the entire day.

One thing I do is bring a 64-oz. Under Armor jug to work with me. It sits on my desk and I just refill my cup as needed. It’s a perfect way to keep myself hydrated throughout the day.

You need to follow a set training schedule.

Please don’t think you can run a race – especially a half marathon or marathon – without a proper schedule. You’re setting yourself up for failure in my honest opinion.

When I ran my first few half marathons and marathon, I followed Hal Higdon’s schedules. You can check those out for yourself along with the modified version I used to train.

This year, I started training for the 2017 Blue-Gray Half Marathon in Gettysburg, PA at the beginning of August and I’m using a different training schedule due to time constraints. The race is October 22, so I have a few months of training runs set up each week. It gives me goals to shoot for and I keep it at my desk so I can see my progress.

That’s another benefit of the schedule. You see where you started and where you came from. You also know what’s ahead that you have to tackle and conquer.

Never forget that the majority of running isn’t physical, it’s mental. You push yourself to run through aches and pains. You push yourself to beat that long, gradual uphill. So, seeing those little wins each and every day – and crossing them off the calendar – is huge for your mindset.

To get there, you must follow a set course for success. That’s the importance of the training schedule.

You need to cross-train

Another common mistake we make as runners is thinking running is all we must do. As I’ve discussed before, there are a variety of ways to begin cross-training. It comes down to your willingness to do it – and make it part of your schedule.

This time around, I plan to make cross-training a priority for my fall half marathon training. I’ll be doing the PiYo workouts from Beachbody. It incorporates elements of pilates and yoga.

I don’t have much experience with these types of workouts. However, I’ve read they can have great benefits for runners in promoting weight loss and core strength.

I can stand to lose a few pounds myself and want to tighten things up in time for race day. So, I’m giving this a try.

It all comes down to what types of cross-training you want to do. Then, make it fit into your training routine.

You need to give your body proper rest and recovery time

Newsflash: you’re human. That means you get tired – and that means you need time off here and there.

Truthfully, it’s ok to admit that. What’s not ok is running and training through your exhaustion and then causing an injury.

I’ll admit it. I’ve skipped training runs and cross-training sessions because I was tired. I needed a physical and mental health day.

It may be beneficial to incorporate off days into your schedule. Tell yourself one day per week I’m taking off.

Giving your body time to recover is incredibly important to your training. Not doing so can cause you to miss the very race you’ve worked so hard to train for.

Now it’s up to you to make it happen.

You have 5 tools to use to make yourself a better runner. These 5 tools will provide you with a proper training regimen and mindset heading into your fall races.

As with any advice we receive, it comes down to you implementing it and making it work for you. I wish you all the best of luck in your training. Happy Running!

What fall races are you training for? How’s your training going so far? Please let us know in the comments.

About the Author: David Domzalski


Dave Domzalski lives in Gettysburg, PA with his wife and son.  He’s completed 5 half marathons and the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon.  Check him out on Run The Money, where he discusses the intersection of physical health and financial health.  Follow Run The Money on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.