July 2019 - RUNNING
Plan Your Fall Racing Season
By Tom O’Grady
Summer is officially here and with it comes warmer temperatures, sunny skies, and more hours of daylight. What more could someone ask for to increase their motivation to get outside and start training? With a little foresight you can take this motivation and come up with a fall goal to tackle. With motivation and a goal in mind you can start to plan ahead and maximize your chances of success!
What are my goals? Whether you are a beginner or more experienced athlete, the first thing to do is pick clear and definable goals. Many runners base their training around a specific event. In the fall it is common to prepare a training schedule that culminates with a half or full marathon. If your goal is to complete the half or full marathon distance then it will take approximately two to three months to properly train for these distances. Once you have selected a distance, you can start to consider time goals for your actual race, whether it is simply finishing or improving upon a previous best time at your chosen distance.
Am I Ready? If you are planning to run a fall race and have a specific goal in mind to reach, then it is important to honestly assess whether you are prepared or not. Have you put in proper base training up to this point so that you can begin training with relative ease? Or do you need to specifically plan ahead and build this into the first several weeks of your training schedule?
If you are not prepared, then there are several options you can chose from to help you get ready for a race. The easiest and most common solution is to go to the bookstore, and buy a book related to training, or to download a training guide from a running website. For those that choose this route there is no shortage of training advice from sources. For individuals simply looking for training plans, I usually advise Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger. For those who also enjoy the science behind the training I usually advise Daniel’s Running Formula by the well-known exercise scientist and coach Jack Daniels.
If you are looking for additional advice, it may be worthwhile to consider hiring a coach, like myself, who has experience with training and coaching individuals. If you are more the group type, but would still like some of the personalization provided by a coach, then joining a group like the Fleet Feet Training Program (fleetfeetalbany.com) – put on by the specialty running store Fleet Feet, with locations in Albany and Malta.
What races and events would I like to run this fall? If you are planning your schedule around a half or full marathon this fall, the Capital Region has two premiere races that offer both distances for individuals to participate in.
The first of the two events on the calendar is the Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival on Sunday, Sept. 22. It’s been billed as “The most beautiful 26 miles and 385 yards you’ll ever run.” Evidence of the beauty is plentiful as the full marathon does a complete circuit of Schroon Lake, and the half starts at the halfway point, and also circuits the lake. Besides boasting a beautiful course this race averages around 200 finishers in the full and 400 in the half – so you won’t be fighting the crowds associated with bigger races. They race offers a marathon early bird start at 7am, and two- and four-person marathon relays. If you have a specific time in mind the race provides pacers to help you along on the course. After finishing the awards are second to none, with top finishers bringing home bears that are hand-carved from wood, and age group finishers bringing home maple syrup.
If you aren’t up to a full or half, the Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival has 5K and 10K races on Saturday, Sept. 21 in Chestertown. The one thing to keep in mind with this race is that the marathon course is quite hilly. So, if time is paramount you may want to consider the other major area marathon.
The Mohawk Hudson River Marathon and Hannaford Half Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 13 is put on annually by the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club. This race is very popular with each distance averaging 1,000 finishers. The 10-year rise in numbers is no surprise as race directors have put a lot of attention into the race experience. The marathon begins in Schenectady’s Central Park, and the half marathon starts in Colonie’s Mohawk River Park, then both races run primarily on the bike path as it brings participants along both the Mohawk and Hudson rivers, before finishing at Jennings Landing in Albany. For those keeping track, this means the courses are a point-to-point effort, which has a slight net elevation drop. Making them ideal courses for setting personal bests. In fact, MHRM has been rated as “One of the nation’s fastest marathons.”
Like its counterpart to the north, MHRM offers pacing to help runners achieve their time goals. An added incentive of prize money has attracted top talent to these races. This has caused the men’s marathon course record to drop to 2:15:52 in 2016; women’s to 2:34:21 in 2014; men’s half to 1:05:48 in 2015; and women’s half to 1:18:09 in 2016.
A marathon is not your thing and you want a race where the half or alternate distance is the attraction? Have no fear – if the marathon is not your distance, there are race options available that will allow you to enter a shorter race and still have that race be the main event of the day.
Voted as “A top race in New York,” The Saratoga Palio: Melanie Merola O’Donnell Memorial Half Marathon takes place on Sunday, Sept. 15. The race began in 2006 to honor Melanie Merola O’Donnell, who died at age 33, while completing doctoral work in psychology. Proceeds from the race support The Melanie Foundation, which provides funding to individuals focusing on careers in mental health – a career that Melanie planned to pursue. This race brings individuals from downtown Saratoga Springs, through the Saratoga Spa State Park, and back to Saratoga’s Congress Park.
If 9.3 miles is your thing, then consider the MVP Health Care Stockade-athon 15K on Sunday, Nov. 10. HMRRC’s Stockade-athon is one of the oldest 15K road races in the US, with 1,500 runners, many runner perks and lucrative prizes. The course starts in downtown Schenectady, runs on historic Stockade and tree-lined residential streets, around Central Park, and through Vale Cemetery to a downhill finish.
What gear do I need? The great thing about running is that it is not as gear intensive as other sports. The most basic gear you will likely want is new and properly fitting footwear, as well as a sports watch or GPS watch. Since most of your training will be done in the summer make sure to have loose fitting comfortable clothing, a hat, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
Tom O’Grady, PhD, MPH (email@example.com) of Slingerlands is an avid runner, hiker and lover of the outdoors.