By Steve Moneghetti
As Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu famously said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
So often in life, the most difficult aspect of any task is just having the courage to start; to take that great leap of faith, that first step.
Beginning a running training program is no different. It can be an equally daunting prospect for both elite athletes and novice runners.
But with the Gold Coast Airport Marathon and the shorter distance events only eight weeks away (6 and 7 July), it’s fantastic to see that huge numbers of people, right across the world, are lacing up their runners and hitting their local footpaths, parks and beaches preparing to chase their race weekend dreams.
Interestingly, about one tenth of the early entries this year tell us ‘ticking a box on their bucket list’ is their main motivation for entering.
That means we should have record numbers of first-time entrants on the various starting lines this year.
My experience is that running is such an individual pursuit that no two people approach their physical training or mental preparation the same way.
Obviously it depends on your goals but, regardless of whether you are just aiming to finish, or you want to improve your personal best time, you will be more likely to succeed if you follow a fairly disciplined program that delivers the most realistic workload for you.
I always recommend a check up from your local doctor to ensure you are ready to begin a training program as a good starting point.
Also start a training diary so you keep track of your progress and have a practical record of your journey.
You also need to be realistic about the event you choose and my rule of thumb is double the longest distance you have done recently, so if you have done a 10km run then the 21km event would be an option for you.
A new pair of training shoes will provide great motivation, and if you start wearing them now they will be nicely broken in by race day.
Establish or continue the routine you are currently following as it will best suit your lifestyle and mean you are more likely to stay with the program.
Be sensible about how you begin the program as it is better to make it to race day under prepared than be injured or sick and not be on the start line at all. Slow and steady will win your personal race and it will always be the overarching message for my training program.
Following on from this logic, if you are unsure, always do less, and if you do miss a session or two do not try to catch up but revert to the week previous and pick the program up again from there.
Try to train on a mixture of surfaces such as gravel, dirt, grass and bitumen and reduce running on concrete as much as you can as it is unforgiving on your legs. Also incorporate hill running or walking into the program as it builds leg muscles that will be valuable on race day even if there are no hills in the event.
And lastly, train with another person or group as the support for each other will help with your commitment and make the effort a lot more enjoyable.
www.goldcoastmarathon.com.au has some excellent training tips for runners of all fitness levels and all race distances, which are well worth reading.
I look forward to taking this journey with you…step, by step.
Steve Moneghetti is a four-time Olympian and Gold Coast Airport Marathon Ambassador.
This year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon race program will feature the full 42.195km Gold Coast Airport Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Southern Cross University 10km Run, Suncorp Bank 5.7km Challenge and 4km and 2km Junior Dash races.
Entries for the 35th Gold Coast Airport Marathon are open and there is an early bird fee until Wednesday 22 May.