Get the Most from Running Training
Running is a key part of many training programs, and the beauty of it is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. Not only is running a cheap and convenient way to explore your city or local area, it’s also an ideal exercise for losing weight and improving your cardiovascular fitness, and it has the added bonus of helping to reduce anxiety and stress.
Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve had a bit of experience and are ready for distances of 10km or longer, you’ll need the right attitude, training advice, goals – and running shoes! So, make sure you read through our tips before you start training.
Why Should You Run?
There are so many reasons to embrace running. Here are just a few:
- Helps you lose weight
- Improves your heart and lung circulation and your digestive health
- Builds stronger bones and joints and helps develop muscle tone
- Improves mental health and wellbeing
- Releases endorphins, which relieve pain and are responsible for ‘runner’s high’
- Running alone can be meditative and good ‘me time’, and running with a partner can be a great social activity
The Importance of Good Technique
Don’t forget to breathe while you’re running! No matter what stage you’re at with your training, it’s important that you focus on full and proper exhalation to achieve a good breathing rhythm. This will help oxygen reach your muscles more efficiently.
Good posture is also really important. Look ahead rather than hunching over and watching the ground. Don’t collapse in on your core muscles – try to keep your back in a straight line.
Relax your shoulders, neck and head, and let your arms and elbows hang freely by your sides. Try not to tense your upper body as you’ll just waste energy.
Increasing Distance and Speed
12WBT takes the guesswork out of the running component of your training program. It will build your training gradually and optimally so that you don’t blast out of the blocks and get injured. Be patient in the beginning and be consistent to achieve your SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based) goals. Here are some tips for building your running prowess:
- Spread your running training days across the week
- Do toning/strength/core stability work in-between running days
- Don’t forget to warm up and cool down before and after each run
- Increase your pace and distance gradually to avoid injury – stick to your program
There’s no miracle way to become better at running. You just have to get out there and do it!
Choosing the Right Running Shoes
Only wear shoes that are specifically designed for running. Running in cross-trainers, tennis shoes or worn-out shoes will increase your likelihood of injuries. Make sure you replace your running shoes every 750km to 1000km – this isn’t just for people training for a marathon or half marathon, it includes any walking you’ve done in them!
You can prolong the life of your shoes by having a second pair to use on alternate days to allow the cushioning material to recover between runs.
Your podiatrist or a qualified running-shoe salesperson can advise you on the type of shoe that’s best for your foot type. For more help choosing the right running shoes, check out our buying guide.
Avoiding Running Injuries
Running stimulates and potentially shortens certain muscles. When you finish a run, those muscles can tighten up. The best way to avoid tightness, stiffness and potential soreness is to perform a cool-down jog and a thorough stretch after your training.
Stretching after running also encourages oxygen to move around the body more efficiently, removes waste products that can cause stiffness and soreness, and minimises blood pooling in the muscles.
Aim to run on softer surfaces like grass ovals, dirt tracks or tartan athletics tracks to minimise injury. But if you plan on running in races, make sure you occasionally run on footpaths or asphalt to accustomise your body to this different level of impact.
You can also self-massage your shins, calves, feet and other parts of your body before and after your runs to help reduce the onset of shin splints and other injuries.
Listen to Your Body
It’s essential to learn the difference between good and bad pain. The discomfort of physical exertion while running and a little muscle soreness one or two days after exercise are normal. However, strains and injuries aren’t, and they can be avoided by not pushing beyond your limits. Also, avoid accidents like ankle sprains and falls by not running on unsteady ground or at night.
If you do sustain a running injury, immediately administer the RICERsystem: rest, ice, compression, elevation and referral. Prompt action can make a considerable difference!
Rest and Recovery
Getting enough rest and sleep is vital for optimal recovery and continued improvements in running performance. Follow these tips for a healthy recovery:
- Self-massage your stiff, tired muscles with your hands, a foam roller, a tennis ball or a golf ball.
- Use a foam roller on your quads, hips, hamstrings and ITB (down the side of your thigh).
- See a physiotherapist or massage therapist to manage any niggles or stubborn knots.
The Importance of Hydration
When your running training is in full swing, sweating is par for the course, so replace lost fluids as soon as you can. Water will generally do the trick, but if you’ve gone for a long run (one that lasts 90 minutes or more) you may want to replace lost electrolytes with a sports drink to restore hydration and aid muscle recovery. You’d need to take into account the extra calories contained in a sports drink if you’re trying to lose weight.
There are so many great reasons to make running part of your exercise regime, but don’t be discouraged if it’s hard at first. Stick to it and it will become easier – we bet you’ll even learn to love it!