Steps to Easily Return to Training and Racing

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Most runners have spent the past year training for one thing: getting through pandemic life. With in-person races at a standstill, there was no goal race on the training plan. Maybe you still ran because you needed running to help cope with the stress of it all. Maybe you ran what you could when you could. Maybe you stopped running all together.

Some runners need a race to have on the calendar. It gives their training a purpose and a goal to chip away at with every run, and virtual races have been a great alternative during the pandemic.

But if you've been missing in-person races, it looks like they're finally starting to make a comeback. You may have noticed small local races already happening in your area. If all goes well, we can expect larger in-person races in the late summer or early fall. If you have that itch to race and you're feeling comfortable being around bigger crowds, it's finally time to start training once again.

However, that's easier said than done. How exactly do you get back into the swing of things after potentially so many months off?

Make a Training Plan 

Once you have a race on the calendar, ''s time to make a plan that gives you adequate time for base building. If you haven't been running, you can't expect to start where you left off a year ago. You're starting from where you are right now. If you have been running, be honest with yourself about how much time and effort you're ready to commit to training. Make sure your training plan has a slow transition back with a gradual increase in mileage. Don't get too excited for training too soon. The last thing you want to end up with is an injury.

Get Your Mind Back in Training Mode

It can be intimidating looking ahead at a training plan when you see what's in store for you as the miles creep up. Focus on daily and weekly goals for improvement. Now is also the time to work on your mental game with visualization, meditation, breathing techniques, mantras and inspirational quotes—whatever it takes to get you through the rough training runs and on race day.

Expect Race Day Changes 

Race day will look a little different than what we remember. There most likely won't be a race day packet pick up or day-of race registration. Eliminating these options allows the race directors to have greater crowd control.  Masks may be required at the start and finish line, and some races may even require runners to wear masks throughout the race. Another difference may be a staggered start rather than a mass start. This creates a natural social distance on the course.

Most importantly, remember to have fun training and on race day. After not having in-person races for so long, we know it's a gift. Soak in the achievement of where you have been and where you're going next.

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