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5 training goals for fall that don’t include a marathon

Running goals for fall that don't include a marathonAs the summer comes to a close, many runners are in the height of fall marathon training — logging 20 milers, taking ice baths, carbo-loading, etc. But if you’re not one of these runners, it can be easy to feel left behind in all the mania. But, as we’ve said before, marathons aren’t the ultimate test for runners, and there’s no need to apologize for choosing to run a specific race distance.

And you don’t need to run a marathon this season to keep up your strength, endurance, speed, and spirits.

Here are five fresh focuses for your training this fall.

  • Weekly track day: Heading to the track each week is a wonderful way to shake up your usual routine. Not only will the change of scenery inspire you to try new things, but you’ll also gain a better understanding of your body and its abilities. Warm up by jogging a warm-up mile. If you’re new to speed training, start with 400 meter repeats at a little faster than 5K pace followed by 400 meters of jogging rest. Begin with 3 or 4 repeats and work your way up to doing ten. (Related: Speedwork for beginners)
  • Half happiness: While it may be too late to register and train for a marathon, there are a plethora of half marathons with their rosters still open. And if you’ve been running regularly throughout the summer, you may have time to train properly for one of them. In addition, there’s a good chance are there’s a half marathon in your neighborhood, and there are clear advantages of running races closer to home. Still not convinced? Check out these 13 reasons you should run a half marathon instead of a full. (Related: Find a half marathon near you)
  • Fast 5K: As the fall rolls on into the holiday season, it seems like 5K sprout up out of every corner. Prepare yourself by starting some training now to smash your old record. Yes, running a marathon gets you bragging points because you’re on your feet for so long. It’s equally impressive if you can significantly drop your 5K time. If 5Ks aren’t your thing, try training for a fast 10K.
  • Regained motivation: It’s OK to run without a goal event in mind. In fact, some of us go through cycles of being super motivated to hit all workouts followed by frustrating months where workouts seem elusive. Take off your GPS watch, resist the urge to otherwise track/time workouts, and just run. Aim to get back into the groove, whatever that means to you. Once you’re there for a few weeks, consider starting a training plan, whether or not you want it to culminate with some running event.
  • Rest and revive: Maybe you’ve been racing your heart out in the heat this summer and find it hard to relax with all the group 20-miler invitations. Thing is, we all need to rest, recover, and recharge at some point — even the elites do it. If you’re skeptical, these are the reasons your body is begging you to take a break from training for at least a little while. And here’s how I took a whole month off from serious running and lived to tell the tale (and run strong again). Make it your goal to come back after your break refreshed. Keep yourself involved by volunteering at local races or cheering your friends from the sidelines.

Written by Ashley Marcin.

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