Many of us start the beginning of each New Year with a resolution. Whether it be a resolution to lose 20 pounds this year, do something good for others, develop a healthier lifestyle, pay off debt or quit smoking we set out on the road to success and by mid-February, we are floundering! This year, I want to hold you to those resolutions, especially the one you made to run that 5k, 10k or half-marathon.
This weeks tips are aimed to help keep your running legs hot, propelling you through the winter season toward achieving your goal!
1. Make sure to always warm up and cool down.
With any exercise routine, and especially while training for that race you’ve resolved to complete, warm up and cool down sessions are a must! The warm up allows your muscles to prepare themselves for the workout ahead, decreasing your risk of injury such as muscle strains and sprains. Try 10 minutes of walking or light elliptical training and a stretching session. It is especially important to stretch the muscles in your legs, including hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles, as those muscles will receive the highest demand over any other muscles in the body while running. Cooling down is also important, with 5-10 minutes of walking and a full-body stretching routine. This helps prevent build-up of lactic acid in the muscles decreasing the amount of “muscle pain” you will experience the following day.
2. Invest in a good pair of supportive running shoes.
Think about it: you run on your feet, your feet are supported by shoes, and those shoes transmit your body’s weight through to the ground. Do you really want all that force traveling through a worn-out pair of running shoes that could significantly increase your risk of foot and ankle injury? When you head to the shoe store, make sure to bring with you a pair of socks that you would normally run in. Also, if you have orthotic devices that you wear, bring those to try on with your potential new running shoes. Have your feet measured for accurate size and don’t be afraid to run around the store in shoes you are considering buying.
For more buying tips, check out the American Podiatric Medical Associations (APMA) website: http://www.apma.org/MainMenu/Foot-Health/Foot-Health-Brochures-category/Learn-About-Your-Feet/Footwear.aspx
3. Start off slowly.
It’s important that at the beginning of any exercise routine or new running workout, you advance your distance, pace and level of resistance slowly. If you advance too quickly with your body not apt to handle such an increase in activity level, your risk of injury skyrockets! Things like muscle strains, stress fractures and plantar fasciitis become real threats. Take it slow, gradually increase your pace and your distance over the weeks leading up to your race, and abide by tip #4: Enjoy rest days off.
4. Enjoy rest days off.
Taking rest days from your training routine, at least one day per week (two if possible) is very important for reducing your risk of injury and overloading your body. Your body needs days to recover from intense workouts and you feet need a break too!
Before starting any exercises or training routine it’s important to be evaluated by a physician to make sure you are in good physical health and able to handle the demands that will be placed on your body. In addition, you should be evaluated by your Podiatrist who can identify areas in your lower extremities that might lead to injury, while providing solutions to prevent such injuries. They can also suggest warm-up and cool-down exercises specific to the lower extremity that can be included in your routine. The APMA also suggests some lower extremity stretches. Check them out at: http://www.apma.org/MainMenu/Foot-Health/Foot-Health-Brochures-category/Sports-Medicine/Running-and-.aspx
Hit the trails while following these simple tips and you’ll be well on your way to accomplishing that New Years resolution to complete your 5k, 10k or half-marathon this year. See you on the road!