[Editor's Note: Author Erik Stanley is the founder of Trail Roots, a running group-training class.]
It is early in the year and the gyms are full. Yoga classes are bustling with new people, and everyone is ready for a refresh here in the Central Texas road running community. Enter: training for the iconic Cap 10k road race happening in Austin on April 12, 2015. This famous rite of spring race is the largest 10k in Texas and one of the top-10 biggest 10k’s in the country. And it's also a challenging one at that! Plan ahead, and start your training now.
If you can join a local Austin running group, it helps tremendously to have peers running with you, helping to push you, and holding you accountable.
Trail Roots training group, for example, provides a structured training regimen for all levels of road and trail-runners, as well as guided trail runs. The group meets at Jack and Adams Bicycles on Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings for road workouts, and Saturday mornings for the trail run.
If you can’t meet a group, then start on your own. Head down to your local running store and get a new pair of shoes that will accommodate your needs. Most places will fit you to an appropriate shoe based off of your foot type. You can spend between $80-$150 for a good shoe, but there are always sales on older models. Just because the shoe costs more does not make it better.
Now, start your training. Think in moderation. If you have not run much recently, then running for 5 miles straight on your first run will likely overdue it. Don’t start running everyday each week either. Take a few days off each week.
Here is a beginner guideline to help you increase your cardio level without having to run everyday:
Monday - Cross Train: Spin class or bike on your own for 45 minutes.
Tuesday- Run 1 minute/Walk 3 minutes for 30 minutes.
Wednesday - OFF.
Thursday - Run 90 seconds/Walk 4 min for 40 minutes (do this on a hilly route using roads such as Enfield Rd or other hilly sections of the course).
Friday - Strength or Body Pump class
Saturday - Long run- Walk 3 minutes/Run 2 minutes for 50-60 min.
Your pace on the run portions on Tuesdays and Thursdays should be challenging, but not have you totally winded. For example, you should be able to have short conversations with friends running next to you. While walking keep your pace brisk to maintain a higher heart rate throughout the entire workout. On the long run you should be able to keep a normal conversation up for the majority of the run.
Increase your weekly mileage 10-15% each week, and after week 2, you can increase your pace during the Tuesday/Thursday runs. Increase your running time during the intervals and decrease your walking time by 15-20% each week.
By the time the Cap 10k rolls around, you will be ready to toe the line with the masses. Stay within your typical pace range for at least the first 3 miles. You will be through most of the challenging hills at this point and can push the last few miles to the finish. It's important not to let yourself get caught up with the wrong crowd and go out too fast. Finish strong and plan to run the second half of the race faster than the first half. And most importantly, make sure you smile and have fun. It's one of the most exciting spring events in the Lone Star State, and as ever, should be an unforgettable experience.