How Much Should You Run?
More Is Not Better
Many runners, especially individuals who are new to running (<2 months of running) often get excited and extremely motivated about running, and as a result they run too often and increase their daily/weekly mileage too quickly. As a consequence, they often start to develop common overuse running injuries, such as shin splints, runner’s knee or ITB syndrome. Runners who tend to believe that “more is better” also tend to become discouraged and burnt out faster. To decreases the risk of injury and burn out, be conscious and tend to be more conservative when it comes to how often, how long, and how much you run, especially early on in your training programs. Increase your mileage gradually. Don't let your weekly mileage increase by more than 10%. Pay attention to aches and pains. Listen to your body for injury warning signs and know when not to run through the pain. If a pain gets worse as you continue to run, that's a warning sign that you should stop your run.
Take at least one complete day off from exercise each and every week. Do not neglect your rest days. Rest days are just as important as training days aiding in your recovery and injury prevention. Try to incorporate activities other than running such as biking, swimming and lightweight training into your training programs to help your body recover and improve your running.
Many runners underestimate how much fluid they lose during runs and don't drink enough because they're worried about the side cramps. As a result, they suffer from loss of valuable fluids often referred to as dehydration which can be detrimental to your performance and health. Runners need to pay attention to what and how much they're drinking before, during and after exercise.
Follow the simple guidelines regarding hydration:
- An hour before you start your run, try to drink 16 to 24 ounces of water or other non-caffeinated fluid.
- To make sure you're hydrated before you start running, you can drink another 4 to 8 ounces before beginning the race
- Try to consume 6 to 8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes during your runs. During longer workouts (90 minutes or more), some of your fluid intake should include a carbohydrate fluid (like Gatorade) to replace lost sodium and other minerals (electrolytes).
- Don't forget to rehydrate with water or a sports drink after your run. You should drink 20 to 24 fl oz. of water for every pound lost. If your urine is dark yellow after your run, you need to keep rehydrating. It should be a light color.
Day of the Race - Nutrition & Pace
The day of the race is exciting. Runners feel energized and their bodies feel great - all your hours of hard training are about to pay off. Keep in mind the pace that you have trained at. Establish your pace from the start to avoid the crash and burn effect during the final miles of the race.
The best way to avoid the temptation of going out too fast is deliberately run your first mile slower than you plan to run the final one which should feel painfully slow. This is often tough to do, since you'll most likely feel really strong in the beginning and you will have adrenaline pushing you. Keep in mind that for every second you go out too fast in the first half of your race, you'll lose at least double that amount of time in the second half of your race. Try to make sure you're in the correct starting position. Don't start yourself with faster runners because you'll most likely try to keep up with them.
Start your race at a comfortable pace and make sure you check your watch at the first mile marker. If you're ahead of your anticipated pace, slow down. It's not too late to make pace corrections after just one mile.
Many beginning runners underestimate the importance of nutrition, for both their running performance and their overall health. What and when you eat before, during, and after your runs has a huge effect on your performance and recovery. Try to eat a light snack or meal about 1 1/2 to 2 hours before a run. Choose something high in carbohydrates and lower in fat, fiber, and protein. Some examples of good pre-workout fuel include: a bagel with peanut butter; a banana and an energy bar; or a bowl of cold cereal with a cup of milk. Stay away from rich, high-fiber, and high-fat foods.
If you're running more than 90 minutes, you need to replace some of the calories you're burning. You can get carbs on the run through sports drinks or solid foods they are easily digested, such as energy bars, gels, and even sports jelly beans designed for long-distance runners. A basic rule of thumb is that you should be taking in about 100 calories after about an hour of running and then another 100 calories every 40-45 minutes after that.
What to Wear on Race Day - Shoes & Clothing
One of the trickiest parts of running for beginners is how to outfit themselves to be comfortable through a long run. Below are some basic tips to help.
Have the Right Shoes
Wearing old running shoes or wearing the wrong type of running shoes for your foot and running style can lead to running injuries. Go to a running specialty shop, such as Running for Kicks, where a knowledgeable salesperson can evaluate your foot type and running style. Once they determine whether you over-pronate, under-pronate, or have a neutral foot landing, a professional can make a proper shoe recommendation for you.
Wear the Right Clothing
Runners can wear the wrong type or too much or not enough clothing for the weather conditions, leaving them uncomfortable and at risk for heat-related or cold weather-related illnesses. Wearing the right type of fabrics is essential. Many of the sporting good companies now have clothing lines specific to meet the runners needs. Most brands offer clothing lines to which offer runners technical fabrics such as DryFit, Thinsulate, Thermax, or CoolMax. This technology allows sweat to move away from the runner’s body, keeping them dry. It's very important to make sure that cotton is not worn as a first layer. Once cotton is wet the fabric absorbs the water/sweat and the runner stays wet which can be uncomfortable in warmer weather and dangerous in cold weather. The wrong fabric may also cause chaffing which can be very painful and may cause bleeding while running.
One of the most common injury-causing running form mistakes is over striding, or landing heel first with your foot well ahead of your body's center of gravity. Many runners believe that longer strides will increase their speed and improve capabilities, but that's not the case. Over striding tends to use more energy since it means that the runner is breaking with each foot strike, making the lunging forward motion not mechanically sound. This is especially true when running downhill. Runners should focus on landing mid-sole, with the foot directly underneath your body with every step.
Poor mechanics does not refer only to the lower body, but also the upper body. Your arm swing should be a forward motion, from your chin to your pocket, avoiding crossing your body. Runners sometimes tend to swing their arms side-to-side, which makes the runner more likely to slouch and not breathe as well. As runners get tired, they have a tendency to hold their hands way up by their chest while tightening their shoulders. The swinging/holding of the arms tends to use more energy and runners will become more tired in addition to feeling tightness and tension in the shoulders and neck. Sound advice would be to seek the help of a professional to help you with your technique. Professionals can help determine and correct improper mechanics and improve your running.