By Caroline Giddis This fall’s inaugural 30A Half Marathon and 5K on October 23 is coming up fast, but now’s the perfect time to sign up and start training for this beautiful race along Scenic Highway 30A. Whether you’re a couch-to-5K beginner or a regular triathlete, we know training and preparing is what will get you through to the finish line. So we asked Donna Harris, owner of Run With It, a running and fitness store in nearby Fort Walton Beach, for some tips for how to prepare for this great fall race. 1. Get fitted in proper running shoes to help prevent injury. The right shoes will keep you from suffering from shin splints, knee pain or lower back pain. 2. Pick the right program. Choose a half marathon training program that fits your schedule and stick with it. If you’re starting at the end of August, you will need an eight-week program or less. Try to train on a course similar to the one you will be racing on. The 30A Half Marathon will run from Gulf Place to Watercolor and back, along the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, past several pristine coastal dune lakes and, yes, over a few slight hills. Review the course map and try to train under similar conditions. 3. Incorporate cross training into your schedule. Cycling, yoga, swimming and walking are all great ways to cross train. The best thing to do is keep challenging your muscles in different ways. 4. Hydration is vital, especially in the Florida heat and humidity. While the weather should cool off by late October, highs can still be in the upper 70s and low 80s and the Florida humidity can rear its head pretty much through any season. Drinking plenty of water and electrolyte drinks will ensure that you don’t get dehydrated. We recommend Nuun hydration tablets and coconut water as low-sugar options. 5. Don’t forget nutrition. We suggest eating something before your run to help sustain energy so you won’t “bonk” or feel drained. Toast, bananas or an english muffin with a little peanut butter seem to work for a lot of people. Try some different foods before several of your training runs and see what works for you. Other forms of nutrition are gels, gummies, energy beans and waffles. You can find these at your local running store. Practice with some of these products before race day, there’s nothing worse than a “gut bomb” at mile 10! 6. Socks matter. Remember, cotton socks are the enemy because they trap moisture and don’t dry out, leaving your foot vulnerable to hot spots. Moisture-wicking synthetic-blend socks will help you rock the half blister-free! 8. Don’t forget to stretch. Always warm up with walking or light stretching, but post-run stretching and foam rolling your muscles are the most important steps in preventing injury. Don’t forget to take rest days, either. Giving your body a break is just as necessary as running. 7. Protect your skin too! Sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses are a must in our area. You don’t want to end up sunburned AND sore. 9. Plan ahead to prevent race day jitters. The night before, set out everything you will need: your race number, safety pins, your outfit, shoes, socks, water belt, sunglasses and nutrition. Run through your morning routine in advance. Remember, nothing new on race day! 10. Enjoy your run! This race’s route goes by some of the most beautiful scenery in our part of the world. Take time to enjoy it and be proud of your accomplishment. It’s a gorgeous spot to run a half marathon, so don’t forget to look around and have some fun! Donna Harris is the co-owner of Run With It in Fort Walton Beach and a proud sponsor of the 30A Half Marathon and 5K, which will be October 23 in Santa Rosa Beach. Sign up now at 30AHalf.com!