Running is not only a great way to get in shape, but also a fantastic way to improve your overall mood! We believe anyone can become a runner, and these six tips will help push you get started in the New Year.
You’ve probably heard of people loading up on carbs before a big run or other extended fitness expeditions.
If you are hitting the treadmill for a mile or two there is no need to load up on carbs. You’ll stay light on your feet by keeping a well-balanced and clean diet. For long runs, we suggest an extra serving of complex carbohydrates for a few days leading up to the long run.
It’s important to choose complex carbohydrates, because they provide long-lasting energy for your body. Here are some examples of foods you could eat before and after your run.
Pre-run: Sweet potatoes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Post-run: Apple slices and nut butter; eggs and toast or fruit; vegetables and hummus; lean protein wrap, and the best for last, protein smoothies.
WARM UP & COOL DOWN
There are mixed opinions floating around about stretching before running. What most researchers agree on is that dynamic stretching, not static stretching, is beneficial to do before you run. Dynamic stretching uses controlled body movements to improve range of motion and loosen up muscles. Once you have completed your running workout, take some time to stretch out your muscles to an elongated point and hold each position for at least 30 seconds. If you’re looking for examples, contact a personal trainer at your Snap Fitness location.
EASE INTO IT
When you first start out running or revisit running after a long time period (maybe you took the holidays off), your body needs to slowly ease into it. Listen to your body. If you are in physical pain, switch to intervals of running and walking. Gradually increase the time you spend running. Muscles soreness and aches are highly likely, but any sharp pains are a red flag that you must not ignore.
SWITCH IT UP
If you really want to improve your running ability and keep it fun, adding variety to your workouts is crucial. Try doing intervals that alternate between sprints and jogs. Running uphill will strengthen your body while increasing your stride length and speed over time. Another variation to try is off-road running. Not only is the change in scenery exciting, but the uneven terrain is a great challenge for your body.
WATCH YOUR FORM
One way to prevent overuse injuries while running is by improving your form. Take note of your posture and alignment while you run. Relax your face, neck, and shoulders to avoid excess tension. This is where those mirrors in the gym can come in handy, keep an eye on your form while using the treadmill to make slight adjustments before hitting the pavement or taking on a longer run.
Cross training is the combination of different exercises other than that of the athlete in training (in other words, anything but running). Cross training helps balance your muscle groups by strengthening your non-running muscles and rests your running muscles. It also helps to maintain or improve your cardiovascular fitness, not to mention the variety prevents boredom and burnout. Some beneficial cross training options for runners include biking, water running, swimming, and the elliptical machine at your Snap Fitness club.