I’ve done both – running the AJC Peachtree Road Race with almost no preparation and running it after spending weeks getting ready. Not surprisingly, running a long race, make that any race, goes better when you prepare adequately (especially the Peachtree, where it will be hot and humid and the weather will shock your system if you aren’t ready for it).
Ten or 11 weeks prior seems like as good as time as any to begin training. For me, that means printing a schedule of training runs from runnersworld.com rather than just running however far I feel like going. (There is a free option and several pay options from Runners’ World and many other websites have pay plans. Nike also has free plans available through Nike+. Note that most of these plans seem to recommend 12 weeks to fully get ready.)
What’s important about this is that I find I always run/train much better when there is a goal somewhere out there, and I have a plan. Races from big (the AJC PRR) to small (your neighborhood 5K) can be the carrot. A simple schedule is generally enough. Like training partners/running groups, that set schedule keeps you accountable. When you run well in July, you’ll know why. If you don’t, I bet there is a good chance you weren’t ready for the six miles, the heat or both.
This year for the Peachtree, I am aiming to run what I hope will be my first 10K under 50 minutes. I always seem to wind up finishing 10Ks somewhere between 53 and 56 minutes. With a little bit of training – maybe six weeks or so – the 8:30-9 minute pace is achievable for me, I know. It becomes comfortable to me. Putting some more in this year, I am looking to accomplish more. That means it’s time to get started. And hopefully this goal will keep me going in early June, those days when it’s 100 degrees and the race is still a month away, when my motivation seems to have disappeared.
Do you think I am right needing a race to help push me in my training? How do you stay motivated? And from the title of this post, have you started training for July 4? And if so, what’s your plan and what’s your goal time?
I’ll try to keep you updated and you let me know how things are going for you as the Peachtree approaches.