As just about every doctor will tell you, running regularly can help you lose weight and keep trim. Runners as a rule sport lithe, slender bodies and they don’t quite have as much body fat as your average person. If you want to run, you may want to consider joining a race so you have a goal to motivate you to train. But your preparation for a race must be properly thought out, because if not you may just end up performing poorly or even injuring yourself.
So what do you have to do? To help guide you on your running adventure, we’ve come up with some tips to help you out:
Preparing for a Race
You can’t just race without preparing for it. If you don’t train and go running regularly for the race, you will perform abominably. Here are some FAQs with the answers you need:
- What should you wear? Most people just use cotton shirts and pants, but if you’re serious, they won’t do at all. You should buy gear made of specially-designed fabrics to help you remain comfortable during your training and your race. You can dress in layers, depending on the season and the weather of your training days and race day.
- What about the shoes? Here, the most important factor is the fit. You’ll have to test run your shoes wearing your training and racing gear, including the socks. Check that the shoes fit your feet snugly, but not tightly. There should be enough space in front for your toes to wiggle so you don’t injure your toes. And your feet should not come off from the footbed, so that you don’t rub against the heel and get blisters.
- At what time of the day should you run? If you’re running a race, then your training schedule should match your race time. That means you run in the morning if your race starts in the morning. Your body slowly adapts to the time you usually exercise.
However, if you’re running regularly just to maintain your trim figure, you may want to run in the afternoon instead. This is the ideal time for running for both early birds and night owls. In the afternoon, your aerobic capacity is at its peak. Your body is in its strongest and most flexible state at this time.
Just make sure you set a schedule, and then you must stick to that schedule. It’s best if you get a running partner, because we’re motivated not to disappoint that person so we don’t give up.
- What kind of exercises should you do? Obviously, you’ll have to run a lot to get your body used to this form of activity. But you can’t limit your training to this kind of workout. You should consider cross training, so you may want to put in some time swimming, weightlifting, and even yoga.
- What should you do when you get side stitches? This is the pain in your midsection you may get when you run. When this happens, just slow down and take slow deep breaths. But you should continue training regularly, because over time your ligaments will get used to the training and you won’t get this pain as frequently.
The Importance of Recovery
Post running exercise/recovery is crucial for your training. When you set your schedule, just make sure you get some rest days for your muscles to recover from their exertions. One day should be reserved for total rest, another day for just weight lifting and stretching, and another day for a minimal half-hour run.
Before each run, always warm up and start slowly. And after each run, you need to stretch your muscles when they’re still warm. This keeps you limber, and you’re less likely suffer an injury. You may even want to try an ice bath after a run for about 5 to 10 minutes.
You also need enough sleep, and you may want to increase your sleeping time when you run to give your tired body more time to recover. One rule of thumb is you need an extra minute of sleep each night for every mile you run in a week. So if you run 12 miles a week, then you need an extra 12 minutes of sleep at night.
Diet/ Nutrition for Runners
When you run regularly, you expend a lot of calories. Your diet and nutrition will depend a lot on your fitness goal. If you’re running to lose weight, then you may be on a lower-calorie diet so you burn more calories than you consume. But if you’re just trying to maintain your figure, then you may have to increase your calorie intake to match the higher needs of your new training regimen.
Either way, you need complex carbs, lean protein, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are perfect because they contain very little calories, and you’re going to have a major appetite soon after a run. So with fruits and veggies, you can sate your cravings without going overboard with your calorie intake.
You also need to focus on your hydration. You’ll need to hydrate to replace the fluids you’ve lost by sweating so much on your runs. You may even want to practice drinking and running at the same time, especially if you’re training for a marathon. To determine how much water you need, you can find out by weighing yourself right before and right after an hour of running without drinking water. You’ll need to drink 16 ounces of water (or a sports drink) for each pound you lost.
On the day before the race or a long run, reduce your fiber and high fat consumption so that you won’t get that feeling of needing to go to the bathroom while you race. Just get your 3 tested meals that offer adequate nutrients, and you’ll be fine.
So in conclusion, we commend your new-found enthusiasm for running. Just get the best running shoes you can afford with the perfect fit, get a running buddy (preferably who’s more experienced than you), and make sure you eat right. Good luck on your race!