So, you’ve decided to start running this spring.

If you’re healthy, it’s a great way to relieve stress and get exercise while you practice social distancing.

Why not set a goal to compete in one or more of the many races hosted throughout Central Wisconsin this fall to keep your training on track?

You’ll carry the memories of training hard and finishing a race for the rest of your life. But we warn you, running and racing against your own time can be addictive.

To finish, you must start well.

And that means training.

Whether you have your eyes set on a marathon, half-marathon or a 5K, training is key to a successful finish.

Eleven things you should know when training for a race.

  1. It takes at least four months to train for a marathon.
  2. You don’t run every day. Proper training and a running plan can help you avoid injury and persevere until the end, whether you run a 5K, a half marathon or a full marathon.
  3. There are many online guides* you can use to start your training. The best will have you running three or four days a week with gradual increases to your distances and your pace. A good plan also includes recovery times, fast-paced runs, and hill challenges to prepare you for road races.
  4. Strength training will help you run faster. When you train for a marathon, it’s important to run often and run long distances, but a leg-strengthening program will help you go the distance. Not only will a leg-strengthening program help you become a better runner, but it also will help you prevent injury.
  5. Walking breaks are allowed! You can walk during your training and during the race. It impacts your time, but it’s important to listen to your body. If you need a rest, take one. It will bring you closer to the finish line.
  6. You will hit a mental wall. It happens to everyone who runs a longer race. Whether it’s at mile marker 5, or mile marker 20, there will come a point when you don’t want to keep going. You’ll have to fight the temptation to give up and get to the finish line.

    Preparing your mind and your body will help you break through the barrier and keep running. (If you feel pain that is different from your normal discomfort on longer runs, stop and ask for help.)

  7. Running your first race mile slower than your normal pace can help you finish strong. Starting too fast, too soon, can leave you in a world of hurt and humiliation at the end.
  8. Run a 5K before a 10K. Run a 10K before a half marathon and run a half marathon before you run a full marathon. As you complete each race, use your race time as a gauge as you train for the next one.
  9. It doesn’t matter if you train outdoors on running trails or inside on the treadmill.
  10. Anyone with proper training can run – some may need to have their health care provider adapt their training program if they have pre-existing conditions.
  11. Your shoes can make or break your run. Shoes that are too heavy cost you time; shoes that are too small hurt your feet. Work with an experienced shoe fitter. Your feet will swell during your run, so always try on shoes in the afternoon or evening.

As always, talk to your health care provider before starting a strenuous training plan.

Why do people run marathons?

According to, there are several reasons people enter marathon races. For some people, marathon training is a way to lose weight; for others, it’s a way to raise money for charity while doing something they love; for still others, the lure of a major life accomplishment motivates them to run 26.2 or 13.1 miles.

What can I expect my body to feel like during training?

Your body will need oxygen while you’re running. Breathe through both your nose and your mouth to deliver more oxygen to your muscles. It will help you prevent side stitches and muscle cramps.

Your body will become dehydrated when you run longer distances. Prevent dehydration by drinking at least 16 ounces of water before you start. Take water with you and drink every 20 minutes or so to replenish your fluids. Remember to drink water after your run, too.

Use proper form to avoid shin splints, runners’ knee, and falls. Keeping your shoulders still and your hands low at your hips will help you keep your body properly aligned and balanced. Try not to let your hands cross the centerline of your body. Working with a sports medicine specialist or an athletic trainer can help you achieve the best running form.

Aches and pains are normal when you start running. If you experience sharp or severe pain, stop training and call a sports medicine specialist or an orthopedic provider for an evaluation.

Sharp and acute pain, or pain that lasts longer than two weeks, may signal a more serious problem.

We wish you well as you start your running program. If you experience pain during your journey to running wellness, call Bone & Joint, and set up an appointment with Dr. Jessica Juntunen. As a triathlete and Ironman participant, she can help you navigate the hills and valleys of training for a race.