How much confidence does that title give you in what you’re about to read? Well before you hit the back button, I assure you that the following tips and suggestions, while not a replacement for professional medical advice, are nevertheless backed up by research, experience, and common knowledge. I’m simply stating the fact that I’m not a professional runner.
The Red Rock Relay is quickly approaching and we – the runners of Team BlenderBottle – are starting to feel the heat! With 38 days, 16 hours, 49 minutes, and 17 seconds ‘til race day (as of this writing, that is), the feet are pounding, the sweat is dripping, and, well…the knees are hurting just a bit.
Through my training, I’ve come across some valuable tips that just might help those of you who want to follow our heroic examples and start running a bit yourself. If you’ve got any suggestions, please add a comment below!
The useless acronym above stands for W
arm up, S
ool down, S
tretch. (You see – it would have been too long of a heading had I not shortened it). My point and focus here is the order in which you do these:
Warm Up: Many people think that they should stretch long and hard before they run. While stretching is important, you need to make sure your muscles are warmed up and “expecting” to be used before you stretch them too hard. Lightly jog for a few minutes before stretching to get the blood flowing.
Stretch: Once warmed up, stretching will be easier and far more effective.
Run: This one should explain itself – just put one foot in front of the other and steadily increase your pace.
Cool Down: After you complete your run, don’t just take a seat and pat yourself on the back! Instead, slow your pace down gradually and give your body a good 5 minutes (at least) to cool down.
Stretch (Again): Once you’ve cooled down, take plenty of time for some final stretches. Skipping this part will ensure automatic “you ran long and hard” reminders throughout every physical movement you make for the next few days. You won’t enjoy them.
Do you have good “form” when it comes to breathing? I figured this one out after my first few moderate runs. I noticed that I was breathing more with my chest and not allowing my lungs to fill completely with air. Less oxygen to the muscles means less endurance – makes sense. A simple way to tell if you’re breathing correctly is to place your hand on your abdomen and breathe in. Your hand should rise with each inhale and fall with each exhale. If your chest moves up and down when you breathe, you’re likely not getting as much oxygen into your body as you can. This simple change made all the difference in my endurance!
While walking, the general motion for each step is to hit the ground with the heel first, roll onto mid-foot, and then push off with the toes. The same form in running, however, becomes counter-productive. Each time you hit your heel on the ground you introduce resistance into your stride. Toe running is the practice of skipping the heel-strike and running on the balls of your feet. Think of the last time you had to run up a steep hill – you likely only pushed off with your toes. That’s the type of stride you want to incorporate into all
of your running. Toe running will keep your momentum forward while reducing some of the impact each step takes on your body.
Running puts a lot of stress on your body. For each step you take, your legs take the impact of two to three times your body weight. Mixing up your routine with swimming, biking, an elliptical machine, etc. will allow you to increase your endurance and strength, while giving your joints and bones some much-needed rest.
-Get a Buddy
We’ve instituted “Team Training Runs” each Wednesday after work here at the BlenderBottle company. Committing to run with someone is important to help keep you on track towards your goal – be it training for a race, running to lose weight, etc. Find a friend, family member, or co-worker who is willing to run with you and set up a schedule together. Keep consistent and running will become significantly easier and more enjoyable.