So the New Year has started and well, congratulations, you've either signed up for the Steamboat Marathon, Half, or 10K (or are considering it)!

You probably signed up right after the New Year knowing that you had quite a bit of time before you actually needed to start training but realizing that it would be a great motivator. Well, January has faded and February is upon us so it’s go time!

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you on your way:

1. Start Slow

This can be a great idea for the seasoned marathoner as well as the newbie. For many seasoned runners, the late fall and holiday season is a great time to kick back and recover after a long year of racing. Make sure that you do not jump right back in and start running your peak mileage again out of the gate. Ease your way back in to prevent injury and focus on some cross training like biking, yoga and swimming. If you live in the mountains hit up spin classes or rent a fat bike and ride some snow packed trails, do some hot yoga, get out on the skate skis or try skinning up the mountain on AT or telemark gear.  These ski set ups afford a "hike" mode in the bindings for uphill travel.

Cross-Country-Skiing

If you are new to all of this then get a good 5-6 month  training program for newcomers and stick with it, these slowly build and are exactly what you need, also heed the cross training advice!

2. Start Running!

If you live in a warm climate well you can run outside all you want; this also goes for the Front Range of Colorado, most of the time! If it's a bit more wintery where you live, do not fall into the treadmill trap. While it’s great to hit the 'mill sometimes, I think running outside in the winter is great and actually makes us appreciate the summer more.

Winter-Running

Ok, so you’re headed outside, what do you need? Footwear. Find a shoe with good traction. My choice for running on slippery roads and icy trails in the winter is a trail running specific shoe. Hit up your local running store to find out what exactly is the right shoe for you. If more traction is needed I recommend the Yak Trax run, microspikes or Ice spike cleats. Your specific terrain will dictate what is best for you. Load up on warm wool base layers (no cotton!) such as long sleeve pullovers, hats, gloves and socks like those offered from local company and Steamboat Marathon Sponsor Smartwool. Invest in a warm pair of tights and a good winter running jacket. If it’s warm enough outside I will even wear capris with high ski socks covering my legs.

If you are carrying a water bottle then many times the heat generated from your hands will be enough to keep the water unfrozen. Do not forget to drink in the winter; the cold often masks the thirst mechanism. If your carrying a pack make sure to get an extra insulated hose on the bladder, there are many great running packs from companies like Salomon, Ultimate Direction and Nathan.

3. Healthy Eating

Ok, what's left? The best and most important thing to stay strong and healthy... food! If the holidays have left you bleary-eyed and a bit lethargic this is a great time to start overhauling your diet. I’ll talk more about specific marathon food intake in later blog posts but for now let’s focus on a few key points. First, get rid of the junk, period. Purge the cabinets of the processed foods and start leaning toward a whole food, plant-filled diet. Yes, we need some sports specific foods but I'm talking about your everyday foods. Oh no, I can hear you saying already, "This woman is trying to make me a vegetarian." I'm not, unless you would like to become one you can and that would be great, but it's your choice. What I am saying is that you need to start making plants a major part of your diet including fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and grains like brown rice. These are all filled with the antioxidants, fiber and nutrients that you need to keep your body working well through the winter.

Healthy Foods

Start getting in the habit of fueling before and after your workouts and stay hydrated throughout the day. It’s winter, you’re going to be around people who are sick, you’re going to be training in the cold weather, and you’re cooped up indoors a lot of the time. Take this as an opportunity to implement some preventative medicine via food!

Ok, happy training! I am so excited for each and every one of your journeys that will culminate with the Steamboat Marathon in our beautiful valley in June!

Guest Blogger: Cara Marrs