Tips & Resources to Prepare for St. Jude's Races this Year by Brenda Wilkerson

 St. Jude's Memphis Marathon Weekend is December 1-2, 2017. Photos of past race weekends were retrieved from stjude.org

 St. Jude's Memphis Marathon Weekend is December 1-2, 2017.

Photos of past race weekends were retrieved from stjude.org

The 2017 St. Jude marathon, half-marathon, 10K, and 5K are only a few months away! Some dedicated runners across the Mid-South have already begun training or are in established racing shape, but many others are just getting started. Whatever your status, here are some tips and resources to help you prepare for one of the biggest races of the year!

Get fitted for good running shoes. It’s easy to go to a discount shoe store, buy the first pair of sneakers that feels good, and stick to that brand for years. But being fitted for your personal best shoe is an important investment in your running. By looking at your feet and form, the wizards at a running-focused store can observe quirks you aren’t even aware of and find solutions. It’s helpful to get fitted not only as a beginner, but also as you progress and add mileage - your body and your needs can change! Visit a running shoe expert at one of these stores:

-        Breakaway Running (Midtown Memphis and Germantown locations)

-        Fleet Feet Sports (East Memphis and Collierville locations)

-        Performance Running of West Tennessee (Jackson)

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Cross-train. Even a light regimen of weights or strength exercises can make a noticeable difference in your running endurance. Yoga also helps runners gain flexibility and tone, and provides a relaxing counterbalance to the intensity of running. Plus, with so many free videos available on YouTube, you don’t need to join a gym or buy a lot of equipment to cross-train effectively. (Check out Yoga with Adriene for yoga practices for all needs and skill levels!)

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Vary your route. While consistency matters in running, your route doesn’t have to be the same on every run. Mixing up distances, terrain, and times of day makes you a more versatile runner and makes your runs more interesting. In any case, don’t run exclusively on one side of the street. The natural incline of the road can eventually cause IT band injuries.

Listen to your body. It’s good to start training early and ramp up slowly to avoid rushing your running progress. There’s also nothing wrong with doing run/walk intervals a la the Galloway Method (or even Zombies, Run!). As you develop as an athlete, you’ll find your edge and learn when to push yourself hard and when to give yourself a break. Even experienced runners have different ability levels and challenges from race to race.

Run with the herd. If you thrive on training with a group, many options are available.

Locally:

-        Breakaway Running is the Official St. Jude Heroes Training Partner for 2017. Official marathon and half-marathon training runs are held on Saturdays at 6 a.m., alternating between the Midtown and Germantown stores. Breakaway also sponsors a 3-mile run on Tuesdays at 6 a.m. starting in front of Café Eclectic Midtown, and a beginner run at 6 a.m. Thursday evenings at the Midtown store.

-        Fleet Feet hosts several group runs at its East Memphis store: a Monday Coed Fun Run at 6 p.m. (3-7 miles), Thursday speedwork sessions at 6 p.m., and a long run on Saturdays at 7 a.m. Yoga for Runners is also offered on some Sunday evenings - call the store for details.

-        The Salty Dogs run 3-5 miles on Mondays at 7 p.m., meeting in front of Bardog Tavern in downtown Memphis. After the run, hang around for a brew!

-        Collierville Runners converge at Prairie Life Fitness for a 3-5 mile run at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

-        Southaven Striders meet on Mondays at 6 p.m.  and Wednesdays at 6 a.m. at Central Park in Southaven for a 3-5 mile run.

-        DeSoto Runners Club meets in front of DeSoto Athletic Center on Saturdays at 7 a.m. for a 4-8 mile run.

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Virtual Groups:

-        RUN365 is an excellent resource for information, news, and encouragement, as well as building relationships with other runners. You might find a new running buddy in your own neighborhood!

-        The Sub-30 Club was founded by and for people striving to run a 5K in under 30 minutes, but is a supportive community open to everyone. You can also join smaller sub-groups.

-        If you’re a Harry Potter fan, run for the House Cup in Hogwarts Running Club! The HRC logs the miles run by each House and holds virtual races (with real medals) year-round. Participation requires a Charity Miles account (St. Jude is one of the charity options), but aside from that, you can be as involved or not as you like.

Running through the St. Jude campus and being cheered on by the patients and their families is an unforgettable experience. Putting in work now toward your best run will make you feel even more inspired and empowered on December 2. Happy running!