The Rundown

For long distance Yellowstone Rim Runner Cris Hernandez, 5Ks are “just another day of jogging with a whole mess of people.” For others, 5Ks are the end goal. No matter the distance, planning is important.

Certified strength and conditioning specialist Cherie Straus of Billings Clinic and One Fitness has some advice on how to prepare for race day.

Set a goal

• Identify fitness level

• Record longest run

• Define desired distance

• Decide running location

• Determine preferred budget, climate, elevation and terrain

Mark your calendar

4 to 6 months before the race:

• Get a physical

• Register for a race and make hotel arrangements, if necessary

• Keep a running log

• Talk to a professional

• Utilize online training tools

• Plan training runs

3 to 5 months before the race:

• Break in new gear

• Experiment with running nutrition

• Mentally prepare

2 to 4 months before the race:

• Assess current fitness and adjust training schedule

• Get a massage

1 ½ months to 3 months before the race:

• Examine the race course

• Look for signs of over-training (e.g., elevated heart rate)

1 to 2 months before the race:

• Make sure you’re on track for race day

• Get any necessary new gear

3 to 5 weeks before the race:

• Last week or two of hard training

• Get a massage

1 to 2 weeks before the race:

• Taper

• Sleep well

Determine the taper

After your peak running distance, cut back your mileage before race day. Because training requires calories, decrease caloric intake as you decrease distance and increase your pace.

• 5K – taper off 7 to 10 days before the race

• Half-marathon – taper off 1 ½ to 2 weeks before the race

• Marathon – taper off 2 to 3 weeks before the race

Day before the race

• Relax

• Eat an early dinner

• Visualize success

• Don’t stress about getting enough sleep

Race morning meal

• Eat 1,000 calories 4 hours before a marathon or ultra-marathon or 300 to 400 calories two hours before

• Limit fiber and fat

• Small amounts of carbs stave off hunger

Go the distance

• Don’t drink water every few minutes

• Avoid carb-loading, too much water or fiber, alcohol and new foods

Recovery mode

• Get a massage

• Do short, easy runs

• Make a new goal

“People think you need to be trained for every race,” said Straus. “So what, you walk. Who cares?”

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