Sunshine, longer days and outdoor races might seem a long way off but in reality, the summer race season is just around the corner. In fact, we are just about 16 weeks away from marathon weekend in Fargo. Whether you plan to run the 5k, 10k, half or full marathon there is no time like the present to begin preparing. While there are plenty of training plans online, it takes so much more to keep your body healthy and injury free than just 16 weeks of running a prescribed amount of miles. Below you will find our top six tips that we recommend keeping in mind in addition to whatever running plan you are following:
Don’t neglect strength training. Of course, the idea of adding strength training to an already busy running schedule can be daunting but finding one or two days a week to focus on strength and resistance training will make a world of difference in the way your body feels and performs…and it is even backed by science! Strength training is key to maintaining muscle mass, which will improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury. If you are not sure where to start or just want the help of an expert, Courts Plus offers several personal trainers who can write you a plan specific to runners and encourage you along the way.
Invest in good shoes. Wearing the wrong size or shoes that are worn out from too many miles is one of the easiest ways to cause injury. We recommend visiting a local running store to be fitted by an expert. They will be able to evaluate your foot type and stride to make a personalized recommendation based on your needs. Most experts recommend replacing running shoes every 300-500 miles, so try not to pull your old high school shoes out either. While it feels like a big investment now, your body will be thanking you down the line.
Focus on good nutrition and stay hydrated. The food you consume is just as important as the miles you run. A good nutrition plan will help increase your energy level, prevent dehydration and optimize your recovery. Remember that as you get into your longer runs later in your training plan you will likely be burning far more calories than your body is used to. It is important to refuel with a balanced diet of the three basic macronutrients including carbs, protein and fat. It never hurts to eat a carb heavy snack prior to a run too as this will fuel your body for the extra push.
Never skip a warm-up. As tempting as it is to just jump right into your run, a proper warm-up will reduce your risk of injury and set you up for success. The best forms of warm-up is dynamic stretching, which involves the active movement of joints and muscles to their full range. Foam rolling is another form of warm up that you can use to increase blood flow and loosen tight muscles. The personal trainers at Courts Plus would be happy to help you plan an effective and safe pre-race warm-up routine.
STRETCH. We get it… you’re busy warming up, running, weight training, eating a balanced diet and drinking enough water and electrolytes. The last thing you have time for is stretching. However, regular stretching improves flexibility or the range of motion for your joints. The more you stretch, the more flexible your muscles and connective tissues will become. Caring for your muscles and joints in this way will minimize your risk of injury and help your recover after long runs or lifting sessions. The mind can also derive important benefits from stretching. Regular stretching helps release tension from muscles which can help will stress management. If you don’t know where to start, hop into a yoga or complete stretch class. Complete stretch classes are particularly good for busy runners as they are offered through out the week and are only 20-minutes long.
Whether you’re a competitive runner or just trying your hand at your first race, Courts Plus is here to support you. For any help with individual programming, we encourage you to schedule a session with a trainer. Whatever your goals, we wish you good luck, train smart and run free!