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Tips for Stepping Up to a New Race Distance


by Lisa VanDyke

*Article originally featured in Run Utah Magazine Spring Edition 2018.  Click HERE to download Full PDF version of the Magazine.

I sat down with the Wasatch Running Center crew in Centerville, and got some expert opinions on how to prepare for a new, longer race distance:

When stepping up to a longer race distance, the basics of running stay the same. Following a plan and building up incrementally, recovering well between hard training efforts, and training your mind to see the finish line are all of utmost importance. The longer the distance, the more variables that come into play. Small issues that may cause minor annoyance on a 5k or 10k, can wreak havoc on a longer distance race.

“Become a student of your sport. Talk to other runners, attend educational events, and read books about running.” –Glen Gerner, owner of WRC Centerville

  1. Chafing – test out your race day clothing during a long run. Some fabrics are better than others, and the seams may appear non abrasive to the naked eye, but turn out causing a lot of chafing. There are products you can rub on your skin and clothing to minimize this issue.
  2. Blisters – good socks, and well fitted shoes make all the difference. Wool blend socks that are thin tend to reduce friction and wick moisture away from the skin. You may need to go up a size in your running shoes for a longer distance, as feet often swell when on your feet for many hours.
  1. Hydration/Nutrition – the longer the race, the more important pre-race nutrition and hydration become. You want your glycogen stores to be filled, and your muscles to be hydrated. As well, fine tuning your race day nutrition will keep you going strong for longer, and minimize fatigue. Tip, employee at Wasatch Running Center in Centerville and skilled triathlete, states, “In general, for longer endurance events an athlete should aim for about ⅓ their body weight in carb grams per hour (example: a 120 lb. runner would look to take in 40 grams of carbs, or 160 calories from carbohydrates per hour). Test out what your body needs during training runs, as this number varies based on the individual’s lean body mass, metabolic efficiency, intensity, race distance, and environmental conditions .
  1. Strength training – just as any gaps in your nutrition will be more obvious at a longer distance, so will the strength of your core and stabilizing muscles. Train them a couple days a week and your running form come race day will be stronger and more efficient.
  1. Proper pacing – many times individuals stepping up to a new distance will expect to hit the paces they do in shorter events. With practice, this might be the case, however a good training plan will have a runner performing a few miles faster than their desired race pace, some at race pace, and lots below race pace each week. Trying to race at a pace one has not practiced can set you up for disappointment. As well, attempting to run every training run at race pace can set you up for injury.


LISA VANDYKE, UtahRunning.com’s Executive Director, is a mother of three who spends any moment she can to sneak away indulging in her passion for running. She discovered running about 9 years ago, at first for stress relief, then to get fit, and much later on to push her own boundaries. Her first race was the Strider’s half marathon in 2013. She stuck with the half distance for some time, racing as well as pacing for a local pacing company, but by late 2014 she needed something different to challenge herself with, and she registered for the Ogden Marathon 2015. Training for this race was her first experience with a structured training plan including speed, tempo, and long runs. She loved marathon training as much as she loved running the race. Ogden got her a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon 2016, which became her second marathon. She has since added a couple more marathons to her journey, and will be Boston bound again in 2019. In addition to being the UTR Executive Director, Lisa also shares her passion for running as the Utah Running Club Layton Hub Captain and is amazing at leading and inspiring others. She loves how this great sport continues to feed her need for growth, camaraderie, and adventure.





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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2018 at 3:50 pm and is filed under Racing, Run Utah Magazine, Spring 2018 Edition, Training, Utah Running. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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