Q: I have recently quit smoking ...I started running 1 mile at a time everyday. A month later I went to 2 miles and one month later 3 miles. I ran my first 10k, never have I ran a race before. I finished that badboy!!! I came in 75th time 46:13 . My question is this, how might I improve my speed for the next race? I don't run with anybody so the carrot relay is out of the question...I am 28. I smoked for 15 years. My next race is in June of this year. Thanks.

A: Congratulations on your new discovery, but a couple of observations: You are still building base, my friend, so don't let the racing bug get you before your body is ready for it. My advice is to continue with the excellent, gradual approach you have been doing. Aside from the concern about coming off a decade and a half of smoking, I have another big concern about you jumping the gun: Injury. These six letters are the most powerful force I know to put one back on the same couch they just spent months coaxing themselves off of. If you start pushing too hard too soon, you will soon experience your first injury. Gauranteed. If you start racing before you are ready, it's channel changer time, baby.

Most of what I have read calls for a base-building period for a year before starting a structured speed work program. I started running when I was 37. My first race was a 10k scheduled for my 20th high school re-union. I started running in the fall with a classmate for the mid-August race the following summer. I'm glad I waited. I finished in 40:30 and I was hooked. If you are patient and focus on base building first, you will stay injury free and your body will be ready to take on the rigors of a race. I highly recommend you buy a book called "Jeff Galloway's Book On Running." It has a great section on the evolution of a runner. I bought it when I started that fall when I started running and I continue to use it as a reference today, seven years later.

Good luck,

The Rage

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10kTruth.com is a place for runners who have the attitude to train harder and smarter, who want to race faster and stronger, to better their race times and lower the chance of injury. The Rage and Manciata answer running and training questions with their own unique insight and spew. You'll also find running advice and inspirational quotes by sports legends and others who epitomize the spirit of 10k Truth.