Healthy You - Every Day

Going the Distance

Make sure you have the endurance for your race

Make sure you have the endurance for your race

Most runners will tell you that training for any type of race is not an easy process. It takes months of training to get your body ready. But, even if you train consistently, you may find yourself struggling to get the last bit of mileage that you need before the big day.

“It’s not uncommon for runners to hit a plateau in their training,” says Chelsea Evans, DO, sports medicine physician with Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute. “The good news is there are ways to address plateaus so you can progress and meet your goals.”

Combat fatigue

There are many reasons you may be having a difficult time reaching your mileage goals. If your endurance is the main issue, Dr. Evans suggests looking at your training plan to make sure you’re not spreading yourself too thin.

“If you are trying to increase your mileage and speed at the same time, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Prioritize on one thing at a time and then move on to your next goal,” she says.

Another issue that could interfere with your progress is fatigue or burnout. If you find yourself dreading your daily workouts or ending them early because of boredom, try switching up your training by adding some different forms of exercise or cross-training.

Cross-training can help you meet your running goals by building muscle and endurance. Many runners benefit from weightlifting, cycling and swimming. Try swapping one run each week for another form of exercise to liven up your workout routine. For more tips on cross-training, click here.

Deal with pain

It’s not uncommon to have some minor aches and pains while you are training for a race. In most cases, muscle pain can be resolved with stretching and walking. “Mobilizing sore muscles can increase blood flow and help repair tissue you stressed while running,” Dr. Evans says.

Many runners also experience foot and joint pain as they begin to increase their mileage. There are a few different ways you may be able to resolve the pain.

  • Check to make sure your shoes aren’t worn out. If the bottom of your shoes are smooth, it’s time for a new pair of shoes. For more tips on choosing the right running shoe, click here.
  • Pavement is hard on your joints. If you are running primarily on pavement, try switching to grass or trails.
  • Give yourself a few days without running to allow your body to rest.

If your symptoms don’t improve with rest or activity modification, Dr. Evans suggests seeing a doctor.

Rest and recovery

As you get closer to race day, you might be tempted to increase your mileage. But you also should make sure you are giving your body the rest and fuel it needs to continue training. Sleep and diet are an important part of your success.

“Try to get uninterrupted nighttime sleep. Shut down your devices like phones and smartwatches that might keep you up,” Dr. Evans says.

At this point in your training, you should be eating more calories to fuel your body. Your calorie intake depends on your weight and your training intensity, but you should be eating a well-balanced diet. Carbohydrates are critical for long-distance runners since they are the body’s main source of energy.

The last weeks before a race can be challenging, but the finish line is in sight. With rest, proper training and diet, your goals are within your reach.

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

The region’s leader in joint, spine and orthopedic care gets you moving again.

Learn more

Explore More Articles