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Novice Runner Tips

With lockdowns and gyms closed during the pandemic, many people all over the world to up the sport of running. There’s no indoor requirements, no fancy equipment or expensive memberships to worry about, you just lace up your sneakers, open the front door and hit the road. And while running has amazing mental and physical benefits, as a newbie or experienced runner, you might start to notice some not so great side effects: achy muscles, blackened toenails, plantar fasciitis and tight muscles. As your UESCA Run Coach, I am here to give you the proper tools to run effectively and efficiently.

Even if you’re an intermediate or experienced runner, these run tips will improve your running game, keep your body safe and make running a healthy activity you can enjoy for years to come.

Warm up. You're all set to hit the trails, but, have you warmed up yet? Failing to do so before a run can lead to a pulled muscle, not running to your full potential and various other injuries. A dynamic warm up would be best. Try a routine that will raise your heart rate, activate your muscles, mobilize your body and potentiate your body. Add some dynamic movements like three way lunges, toe to heel walks, A skins, high knee hacks sack and light jogging.

Set a goal and be consistent. Keep in mind that you want to set goals that are realistic and achievable, especially when you’re just starting out. Going from the couch to a full marathon in two months is not a realistic or good goal. But going from the couch to a 5k in that time is doable. And to become a more effective and efficient runner, consistency is key. So following a program or booking your runs ahead of time is beneficial.

In regards to increasing mileage, in general, I don’t recommend increasing your mileage or running volume by more than 10 percent a week. Increasing speed and / or mileage too quickly may lead to injury and burnout. Our bodies aerobic system advances much faster than our musculature system, so we have to adapt properly.

As great as running is for the body and mind, it shouldn’t be the only type of exercise you do. A major running tip is incorporating other types of workouts, or cross training, so that you’ll strengthen muscles that aren’t used when running, helping prevent injury and give running muscles a chance to recover. Make sure to alternate cross training on days when you’re not running or add it onto shorter running days. If you’re a long distance runner, risk the temptation to sneak in cross training activities during rest days. Your body does need those days to fully recover.

Pre and post workout fuel. Your body needs the best foods for athletes before and after a run. The right mix will keep you energized throughout your workout session and help your muscles recover faster afterward. If you’re running a long distance or have an intense workout, I recommend getting something with a 4:1 carb to protein ratio beforehand. For instance, a banana and nut butter, toast and nut butter, an all natural energy bar, granola, etc. I also recommend keep that to about 45 minutes to an hour beforehand. And post run you will want to make sure you replenish your body properly with macronutrients, especially protein for muscle recovery.

Listen to your body. Your body is constantly speaking to you, but it’s up to you to listen. When something is in pain, please don’t force yourself to power through. Take a rest or see a doctor. Remember that what works for others, whether it’s a training program, a shoe, a time of day to train or even when to eat, might not be the same for you. Resist the urge to compare yourself and your running to others. Focus on keeping your own body happy.

Stretch. After a workout your muscles deserve a decent stretch. With running primarily focusing on glutes, hamstrings, quads, IT bands and feet. The IT band runs along the outside of each leg and can be prone to tendonitis if you don’t take steps to keep it supple. Also, don’t neglect your feet! You just put them through a tough workout as well, so be sure to stretch out the entire foot, calves and toes.

Choose the right shoes. This I can't stress enough as well! A major tip also pertains to the type of shoes you use when you exercise, it can make a huge difference on your comfort and ease while running distances. I recommend going to a running store, being fit for a shoe and experimenting with different types. A decent running shoe is worth all the money. Depending on your foot’s shape and any previous injuries, you might find one style or brand suits you best. Also with running shoes, you’ll want to choose a shoe that’s 1/2 to one size up from your normal size because as you run, your foot swells and you’ll want room to accommodate your feet, not to mention you are pounding the ground so you want enough room for your toes to be comfortable. I prefer a natural foot-shaped shoe.

If you love running, or want to get in to running, I hope these tips help! And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me, and if you are looking to start running along side a strength training routine, as a suggestion, follow my beginner Commit guide 4 days a week (upper body, lower body, core & mobility recharge, and full body) and start by adding in 1 running day a week, then gradually add in a second day.

Xoxo, MK

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