Whether you are running just 10km down the coastline or 40km around the city, the truth is you will be clocking up many more kilometres just getting to the starting line.

Use these tips to help you put your best foot forward in reaching the finishing line:

1. Give yourself between 16 and 20 weeks to train

The duration of your training plan depends on your current fitness level and the distance for which you are preparing.

Twenty weeks is a sufficient amount of time to let your body and lifestyle adapt to a training schedule. The longer time frame also allows some flexibility should any unexpected events like sickness occur, which may delay your training schedule.

2. Listen to your body before you devise a training plan

It may be common to hear the phrase “no pain, no gain” being thrown around in the gym, but this is really just an exercise myth.

In fact, doubling your usual 10km run on the first day of training will put you at high risk of injury.

Instead, your training plan should start off in a similar way to your current running routine. The mileage you clock up should increase incrementally, especially if you only have a few weeks to prepare for the race.

Stretch before your workout.

It is recommended that you add only a maximum of 10% of the distance you are covering into your regular exercise programme – or a maximum of 2km each week.

If you are a complete beginner and your body is not used to covering more distance than a daily walk to the bus interchange, ease into a running plan that starts with two runs a week and build it up as the weeks go on.

3. Get motivated and gather a support crew

It is easy to fill in a form for a race and pay the participant fee, but it is far more difficult to actually get out of bed or the house to train for it each day.

Instead of attacking the training regime on your own, recruit a friend to join you. Signing up for a long-distance run with a friend will make the whole process – from training to crossing the finishing line – much more enjoyable.

And if you don’t have a willing friend, perhaps join a local running group.

Don’t forget to rally up more sources of motivation during the actual race itself, such as inviting some of your friends and family members. These personal cheerleaders will give you encouragement at certain points of the course with shouts, cheers or signs, which will be immensely appreciated at times when you feel like giving up.

Another small motivation that can make a difference in pushing you forward is a playlist with songs that stimulate your motions, such as those with a high number of beats.

In fact, there are apps available to boost your runs. The right app or soundtrack to your sport can help to distract you from fatigue too.

4. Practise along the real running course

Once you have built up your endurance and accumulated distances close to those you will be running on the day, see if it’s possible to run the race route on your training runs.

These are a rehearsal for the real thing, so test out what will work for you on race day itself.

For example, make note of any difficult terrain, set your pace, see if your playlist needs any changes and decide in advance where you should position your cheerleaders for maximum effectiveness.

As race day approaches, you might feel nervous, but don’t lose your confidence. Think about how you have been readying yourself for the crack of the starting pistol and enjoy the experience.

Trust in your training and you will be ready to take on even longer distances.

FitForLife KL 2017, with the theme “Get Fit. Live Great!” aims to inspire Malaysians to lead a healthy lifestyle by being physically and mentally fit. FitForLife KL 2017 is organised by Star Media Group Berhad with Great Eastern Life as exclusive event partner.

Nestlé Omega Plus is the official wellness sponsor. The fair will be held in Halls 1 to 3 of the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre from April 21 to 23. It is open from 10am to 7pm and admission is free.

For enquiries, call 03-79671388 (ext 1529/1243/1466) or visitfacebook.com/starhealthfair.