People that love to run tend to train pretty hard, and some even verge on overdoing it. While regular, high-intensity training can help you reach your running goals and get you in great shape, it can also lead to a variety of different injuries.
If you love running or rely on it as exercise to stay in shape, chances are you aren’t going to stop, and you don’t need to. You do need to be careful with your body, however, and make sure you do as much as you can to prevent injuries that can hobble your running schedule and your body.
Every athlete in the world knows the importance of stretching; however, it’s pretty easy to get in the habit of skipping your stretching routine, especially if you’re in a hurry to get your workout going.
Ideally, you want to reserve about 10 minutes before you go running to stretch. Stretch your whole body and do running-specific stretches like high-knee drills and bounding arm circles. If you’ve had any recent injuries, taking a few minutes to make sure that area is loose and warm is important as well.
You should also take a few minutes to stretch after you’re done running to prevent muscle soreness. This is particularly important if you run every day because muscle soreness can cause you to alter your gait the next day, which could result in an injury.
Add Strength Training to Your Routine
Many runners don’t think about strength training, but it can have some vital benefits. Strength training regularly improves overall athletic ability and physical power in your running, but it also strengthens muscles, helping them to fight off strain-related injuries.
For runners, body-weight strength training exercises are ideal, and heavy lifting really isn’t beneficial. If you’re going to lift weights or use machines, choose lower weights for more repetitions instead of heavy weights for fewer repetitions.
Heavy weight will increase bulk, which won’t make you a more efficient runner.
Take Rest Days
As much as training the right way is important, taking rest days to allow your body to relax is essential. When you just start out, taking a day off after a workout is ideal.
As you progress or if you’re already an experienced runner, taking two rest days off per week is beneficial for some. If you’re training for a marathon or other goal, taking only one rest day per week is fine, but you need to be careful when it comes to listening to your body and any growing injuries.
On your rest days, try doing something beneficial for your body like getting a massage. Massage therapists who use aromatherapy, or practicing self-massage in conjunction with aromatherapy, can be helpful for easing sore muscles and relaxing after a workout.
You don’t have to wait for a rest day to get the benefits of massage and aromatherapy, however. You don’t need more than a free hour to unwind and relax after working out.
In addition to stretching, strength training and using massage and aromatherapy to rest, it’s also essential that you eat right and drink plenty of water when you’re training. It is also very important that you take the necessary daily vitamins to keep performing at your best.
Doing all of these things together can help you reach your training goals and keep yourself free from injuries in the process.
Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer and active runner whose writing offers tips and advice to those seeking help to improve their own running. With a balanced diet, enough rest and daily yoga, she is always improving her performance.
*If you’re interested in snagging a spot for a guest post, please e-mail me at email@example.com. I’d be more than happy to discuss details! Topics can be success stories, tips, recipes, etc. as long as it’s related to healthy living.15 notes
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As requested, I’ve compiled a post of my most favorite running related things.
Garmin 610 - I’m an avid Garmin user, and I absolutely love this watch. It’s expensive ($399.99), but completely worth the investment if you’re a dedicated runner. You can read my full review on the 610 by clicking here.
Garmin 10 - I briefly owned the Garmin 10, and then I decided that it wasn’t for me. I quickly realized that I needed more training data and technicality in my running watch. However, this is the watch that I always recommend for beginners and casual runners. It’s much less expensive at $129.99, reliable, and it’s very user friendly.
Left: unlocked position // Right: locked position
Yurbuds for Women - I used to avoid all ear bud headphone models because no matter what, the buds would either fall out or cause me a lot of ear pain. But then I decided to give Yurbuds a whirl after hearing nothing but good things. I ended up loving them, and I now refuse to wear anything else. You can read my full review on Yurbuds for Women by clicking here.
Brooks Ravenna 4 - Since being struck with a severe case of iliotibial band syndrome back in November, I’ve been on the prowl in figuring out what will best aid in my recovery. I decided that switching to a more supportive shoe would help with muscle stability and guidance, so I chose the Ravenna 4. These shoes don’t feel nearly as heavy as I had anticipated them to be, and there is obvious improvement in both my form and stride. And hey, they’re cool looking too!
Brooks PureFlow 2 - When it comes to racing, I’m immediately drawn to bright, speedy looking shoes because they give me a confidence boost. However, common sense says that I also need to make sure that they will suit my needs as a runner. I’m a huge fan of the entire Brooks PureProject collection. But my favorite model is the PureFlow because it’s the perfect balance between support and minimalism. The best of both worlds.
Zensah Compression Socks/Sleeves - People always ask me if compression socks/sleeves are worth the investment because they can be pricey. Ever since I’ve owned a pair, it’s very rare that you’ll see me without them on race day. I’m also known to sport them ever-so-discretely under my pants on a normal occasion to help speed up recovery.
SPIbelt with Water-Resistant Pocket - The runner’s fanny pack. I’ve tried hydration belts and other various running belts, but the SPIbelt is the only one that doesn’t drive me banana sandwich. It stays put and doesn’t bounce at all. I really love that the belt is discrete, but can still hold essentials like your phone, keys, and any form of identification. They also sell belts with loops along the band to stash your gels for longer runs. There’s a ton of options!
Road ID: The Wrist ID Slim - If I’m running alone, I never leave the house without my RoadID bracelet. It has my full name, emergency contact numbers, and medical alerts (for me, it’s asthma). RoadID does exactly what it says it does; “It speaks for you when you can’t speak for yourself.”
Chica Bands - Out of every single non-slip headband that I’ve tried in the past, Chica Bands are the only ones (for me at least) that completely stay in place. That includes freshly washed hair, dry hair, and the ever-so-attractive sweaty hair. Heck, I’m sure it’ll even stay put on hair covered in baby drool and Cheerios for you mamas out there! ;)
Below, I go from top to bottom.
Basic Foam Roller - This is a perfect recovery tool, especially if you’re on a tight budget. I strongly recommend that all runners use a foam roller on a weekly basis to prevent common muscle-related injuries and to aid in the recovery process following a tough workout. I found mine at Walmart for $14.77.
RumbleRoller - I use this crazy-looking device shown above for really stubborn muscle knots. It doesn’t exactly feel ‘good' per say, but it's highly effective. The massage from the RumbleRoller is deep enough to cause some bruising - just a little warning.
Tiger Tail - I love this tool because it allows you to have more control over the pressure along your muscles, especially in some hard to roll areas such as your calves. It’s also very portable, so it’s perfect for race day or for stashing inside of your gym bag!
R8 Roll Recovery - Out of all of my muscle massager tools, this one is my absolute favorite. It’s a huge time saver because it allows you to roll two sides simultaneously as it self-adjusts the pressure to your legs. You can read my full review on the R8 by clicking here.
Yoga - In the past, I wasn’t much of a fan of yoga. I recently jumped on the wagon, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m really starting to love and appreciate my incorporation of yoga within my running regimen. I can’t believe that I didn’t make this discovery sooner! I have several DVDs, but my absolute favorite is P90X: Yoga X!
Dailymile - I use this website to keep track of my progress, whether I’m in training mode, recovery mode, etc. Think of it as the ‘Facebook’ for runners and athletes alike. It’s also a great tool to keep yourself motivated, and it can be a means of seeking advice or helping others. Click here to add me!
Hal Higdon’s Training Plans - When people come to me for advice on training programs, I typically direct them to Hal Higdon’s website. He’s created plans that range anywhere from Novice 5K all the way to Multiple Marathons. I used his Intermediate 1 Marathon training program when I trained for the Wineglass Marathon.
A Strong Support Team - As a runner, you’re going to have triumphant moments and defeating moments; it comes with the territory of the sport. Joining my local running club is, without a doubt, a decision that I will never regret. The hundreds of members of the SCRR have become my extended family. I don’t have enough fingers or toes to count the number of people whom have touched my life in one simple way or another. They have been with me through the best of times, the worst of times, and everything in between. If you’re fortunate enough to have a local running club in your hometown, please consider joining! Or find a few running buddies at the very least! :) Okay, okay…I can’t forget Sean.
He always listens to me when I go off on a tangent about running-related things. And just look how happy it makes him! ;) He has also been putting up with my excessive whining and grumpiness ever since I got injured. He’s my rock and best friend. I’d be completely lost without him.
A Mantra or Two - I’ve come up with two personal mantras that keep my mind strong.
1.) Fear less. Do more.
2.) Chase fear. Transcend limits.
It is important to fuel your body as an athlete (of any kind) before a race or competition. Endurance runners need to be specifically thoughtful about what they are eating in order to keep their bodies light and lean.
Before a run or race, you want to eat food like chicken, walnuts and raisins since they have lots of carbohydrates, which will fuel your energy levels. Healthy fat and fiber will keep you full on a light meal so you feel lean and not bloated while running.
Carbohydrates like whole wheat pasta, brown rice and whole grain breads and natural protein shakes are best for recovery, after an especially grueling workout.
About an hour after your workout, you want to eat fruits like raspberries and blueberries, especially when you combine them with yogurt.
The fruit is full of antioxidants that will help build any DNA broken down during the race, while the yogurt has more extra protein your body will need to rebuild your muscles the quickest possible.
Although sometimes even a diet rich in vitamins and minerals does not always replace the nutrients lost during athletic training. This is why it is also important to consider matching your diet to your specific exercise, and for runners, adding supplements like the ones below:
Celadrin. Joint health is incredibly important to runners. Celadrin works at the cellular level to lubricate the cell membranes that help cushion joints. This improves flexibility, making celadrin great for your muscles and tendons. It can be taken as a pill or as a cream applied directly onto your sore, tired muscles.
Whey Protein. The more you run, the more muscle mass you may lose. Whey protein ensures that you keep that lean muscles in the recovery stage after a hard workout. It also helps your sore muscles heal faster than they would without a protein supplement.
Magnesium. If you’re running long distances, chances are your magnesium levels are being depleted. This supplement aids in giving you enough energy to finish your marathons and races. It helps your muscles contract faster, therefore helping your overall time in a competition.
Zinc. This supplement promotes a healthy immune system, losing too much can sometimes compromise your wellness and hinder you from racing. Zinc may also improve your recovery time and you only need very small amounts of it to be beneficial.
Fish Oil. It’s good for your blood vessels, helping it flow freely through your veins. It’s also good for your heart, which is a great benefit, since you want to keep it extra healthy as an athlete. Fish oil is full of a ton of Omega-3 fatty acids that you probably wouldn’t receive the same amounts of by just eating fish alone.
Overall, it is important to be aware of what you need to be putting into your body as an athlete to properly fuel yourself. Healthy food choices and added supplements are the perfect way to ensure spot-on performance.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area. She has written on everything from health & wellness, marketing, and technology. Her exercise of choice is yoga, but she loves getting outside and running or taking walks with her three kids.
*If you’re interested in snagging a spot for a guest post, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be more than happy to discuss details! Topics can be success stories, tips, recipes, etc. as long as it’s related to healthy living.31 notes
While there’s no doubt that running offers huge benefits to health, aiding everything from weight loss and fitness to reducing your risk of a range of diseases associated with inactivity, if you do not take precautions it can bring with it its own problems. Here we look at some of the dangers of running if you don’t take a sensible approach and how you can ensure you stay problem free.
Injury to Soft Tissues
Sense dictates that if you’re going to run for more than just to catch a bus you need to warm up before you take off. However, not everyone does, which increases your risk of pulled muscles, sprains, strains and damage to tendons and ligaments. Sustaining these injuries is frustrating, as they can set your training and fitness back, which is especially disappointing if there is a race looming. If you just plan to do an everyday run, walk a block or two and do some stretches to loosen up and increase blood flow to your muscles and joints. However, if you’re looking at getting up to speed during the session, start by alternating walking and jogging for 10 minutes or so, then follow this with another 10 minutes of stretching and drills such as skipping and high knees. Incorporate some resistance exercise into your training, as this will strengthen your joints – examples include use of weight machines, resistance bands, squats and lunges. Additionally, avoid training on hard surfaces, as this increase the impact on your joints.
Dangers of Over-hydration
You’re probably more than aware that you risk dehydration when you run a distance, particularly if it’s a hot day. Consequently you ensure you drink plenty before you set out, take your water bottle with you, perhaps even refill on the way round and then drink more when your session or race is over. However, did you know that drinking too much can be even worse for your body than dehydration? This is especially an issue if it’s simply water that you’re drinking to top up your fluid levels.
When you drink more than your body is losing, which might be the case if you overestimate how much you are sweating, this dilutes your body’s salts, which you are already losing in sweat. Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride are essential for processes in the body such as maintaining muscle function and heartbeat; an imbalance of these can be fatal. Signs to be aware of that you have taken too much fluid on board are extreme tiredness, dizziness, nausea and muscle weakness; if allowed to progress you may lose consciousness or experience seizures. While these electrolyte disturbances can be treated if recognized, prevention is always better than cure. To avoid this happening to you, only drink according to thirst; this way you can ensure that you only provide your body with as much fluid as it needs. Then if you will be running for more than an hour or will be pushing yourself hard on a shorter training session, swap your water for a sport drink, as this contains added electrolytes.
Increased Stress on Your Heart
Running will help you to achieve a lower blood pressure and pulse while at rest, so on a day to day basis your heart will be under less strain. However, if you push yourself hard and run for extended periods of time on a regular basis you might be doing more harm than is good. A study published in the British Medical Journal’s Heart publication last autumn found that intense activity in the longer term didn’t provide greater benefits for heart health and could affect both the structure and electrical activity of the heart; they concluded that people were best to keep vigorous activity to under an hour each day.
Reduced Immune Function
Although regular moderate activity can provide your immune system with a boost, taking part in frequent strenuous exercise can make you more susceptible to infections. There is some research that suggests just 90 minutes of intense activity can hamper your immune system for the three days following the exercise; this might relate to the release of adrenaline during such activity, which places a stress on the immune system. If you can’t avoid long strenuous training sessions, make sure you build in rest days each week to allow your body not just chance to physically recover, but to reduce your risk of developing colds, flu and chest infections, which will interfere with training and your performance. However, managing stress in your life, not smoking and eating a varied diet rich in fruit and vegetables will also help to ward off infections.
Don’t let these potential problems put you off running, simply take some precautions to guard against them and remember you can do too much of a good thing, so build up gradually and don’t try to run too far too soon.
Written by freelance writer, Eve Pearce
*If you’re interested in snagging a spot for a guest post, please e-mail me at email@example.com. I’d be more than happy to discuss details! Topics can be success stories, tips, recipes, etc. as long as it’s related to healthy living.19 notes