As the snow melts and warm weather nears, we as runners tend to get excited about the upcoming season and can often forget the basics. Here are nine reminders to help keep you healthy as we embark on this race season.
Whether you’re picking back up after a long break, coming back from an injury or brand new to running, it’s easier than you think to do too much too soon. We get it, you’re eager, injury free and the endorphins are flowing. But trust our advice to take it slow and follow your training plan. Doing so will help you stay on track and avoid overuse injuries.
Make time to plan your post-workout meals so you’re not gobbling up everything in sight. If you don’t make it easy on yourself by prepping your meals ahead of time, eating the right way can be more difficult than it needs to be. Focus on metabolic efficiency, which means training your body to burn fats more efficiently as fuel (they last longer than carbs).
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, and running outside increases your chances of being exposed to harmful UV. Up to 20 minutes of sun can be healthy, but too much exposure can cause serious damage and discomfort both short and long term. Lather up generously, even on the cloudy days.
Sure, sometimes we wish running was enough too, but it isn’t. You need to train your whole body for optimal running performance, including your brain (yes, mental training is a thing!). From yoga to track workouts to intervals, there’s really no shortage of activities to ensure you can properly cross train.
Even experienced runners can make this rookie mistake. The start of a race is exciting. For one, you’ve been standing around for an hour or more just waiting and you’re ready to go! All the more reason to practice patience. Letting the adrenaline get the best of you at the start can make a big difference in your outcome. Remember, it’s slow and steady until the pack disperses a bit, then find your stride and dominate!
Running hard causes lactic acid and other waste products to accumulate in your muscles, this waste can result in stiffness as it pools in the muscles like coagulating butter. If skipping your cooldown becomes a habit, the stiffness can become a chronic, injury-causing condition that can seriously hamper the enjoyment derived from running. Cooldowns help to flush the waste from the muscles, promoting faster recovery and much less hobbling around like someone who just ran an ultramarathon. Which, maybe you did just finish an ultramarathon, but you get the point.
Did you know there are different types of stretching? And that it’s important which order you do them? We’re talking about static stretching vs. dynamic stretching, and they both have their place in a runner’s life. Dynamic stretching helps elongate muscles, prepares the body for movement, enhances kinesthetic awareness, increases balance, improves mobility, coordination, joint range of motion, strength, and flexibility and athletic potential while decreasing the chance of injury.
Sleep is a valuable tool for optimal running performance. It can seem difficult to fit a solid eight hours into a busy schedule, but not impossible. Consider it a part of your training program, along with nutrition and physical training, because it’s just as important. Human growth hormone repairs muscle and bones and is secreted by your pituitary gland during deep sleep. The longer you go without the amount of sleep you need, the more you feel the effects. Tired, achy, jittery and more injury prone, all things that can really mess up your motivation and endurance. Don’t slack on sleep!
There’s a reason your training plan has rest days included. They’re important, and you need them. Period. Rest days do a few things that as a runner, you can’t perform without. They prevent overuse injuries, restore glycogen stores and prevent mental burnout. Ignoring your rest days puts you at risk of overtraining, which could have you sidelined for months.