Fit & Fabulous | 7 Things you can do to be a Better Runner
There are many things you can do to be a better runner. From gadgets to gear to training plans. But to get started here are seven things you should do sooner than later.
1. Use a GPS or running app.When I re-discovered running years ago I was literally "winging" it. Went about my run/walk plan with a vague idea of how I was doing because I had my husband drive the route to see how far I had gone. Then I progressed to using gmap-pedometer to track my runs. A friend of mine kept offering to lend me a pedometer with GPS but I kept refusing. Then the day came that changed my mind about everything! I installed the free Adidas miCoach app on my Blackberry. It changed running for me. It tracks my distance, time, calories, pace and charts things like my speed, ascent and splits. I can also choose many programs to help me train. Right now I am using the half marathon program. I am coached through my earbuds the entire way, telling me my stats, where I'm at in my workout and what zone I am in or should be in. The only downside is weather can interfere with it's performance. In the last two years I have had to go back to old tracking tactics... maybe twice. Not bad.
2. Buy GOOD running shoes.I can't even begin to tell you how important this is. Trust me. Every part of your body will thank you later. Personally, I love Asics. I have gone through quite a few pair since finding out the hard way that good shoes are important for cushioning and support. And it isn't just your feet you're helping out here either. Your knees, hips, back and neck will all benefit from good quality, well fitting shoes. Replace your shoes about every 600-800km of use.
3. Set Goals. Track your progress.
Figure out what your goals are. Are you running to lose weight? To be healthier and more active? Is there a specific race or event you want to take part in? If you know where you are going you will have a much easier time getting there. If you are not using an app that allows you to track your progress you can still do so on a spread sheet or with an online community like ITSMYRUN.COM. By tracking your runs and workouts you can see where you can improve but more importantly, you can track your PROGRESS.
4. Fuel your body. Listen when it hurts.
Okay kids, this is really important. You need to eat good foods to fuel your body for these workouts! And you will need some carbohydrates. Feeding your body well will mean that your body can perform well. You also need to help your body recover from these workouts with good food! I know a lot of people buy recovery drinks and I am not knocking that. But you can use food as well. My personal favourite is chocolate milk and peanut butter. Yogurt and bananas is good too. All in all what they say is true... Don't live to eat, EAT TO LIVE. Lean meats, fresh fruits and veggies including lots of dark leafy greens, complex carbohydrates like wholegrain breads, oats, muesli and brown rice.
And if something hurts get it checked out. After a hard workout or as a beginner you may have some muscle soreness. That's not what I'm talking about. I mean real pain. The kind that stops you from working out. Or makes you limp. Limping is bad. Of course you should see your doctor before you start a new exercise program but it is particularly important if you are having pain. Also, don't be a hero. If something happens during a workout and it's getting more and more painful. STOP. Get it checked before it becomes something that will require weeks if not months of recovery.
5. Stretch. Cross train. Do Core Training.
I NEVER used to stretch before I ran. Didn't think I needed it. And I was wrong. It took a pretty bad injury to my calf to learn otherwise. Now I have no issues. I begin every workout with marching on the spot, a light run on the spot and jumping jacks to warm up then followed by a few runners stretches and quad stretches.
Cross training is a good way to change up your workout and strengthen muscles you use for running. I ride my bike frequently. It's fun and works my legs out at the same time. I also do resistance training and yoga.
Core training is essential for EVERYONE. When I added cross training and core training I noticed a huge difference in my running. Both in speed and endurance.
6. Connect with other runners. Learn about running.
Talk to other runners. Join an online community. Join a running club. Read books about running. Subscribe to running publications. You can learn a lot from hearing about others experiences. Being around and talking to people with the same goals can be really motivating. I have been motivated endlessly by my friends who are runners. I recently had a friend tell me that seeing my posts when I log a run motivates them to get up and workout sometimes. Sharing with people and learning about your sport will help you figure out what works for you.
7. Stay Positive. Be Realistic.
Know that you are doing a great thing for yourself. Even on the days that it's hard. Not every workout will go exactly as planned. You are NOT striving for perfection, you are striving for PROGRESS!You are not going to want to workout some days. Do your best. If you have set out realistic goals you should be able to talk yourself into going when you don't feel like it and get yourself through those tough ones. Then pat yourself on the back and say "well done".Your ultimate goal as a runner may be to run a half or full marathon. That's a great long term goal. But have some realistic short term ones as well. If you're a new runner start with being able to run for 10,20 or 30 minutes. Run a 5K. Then maybe a 10K. All of these small attainable short term goals will lead you to your ultimate goal whether it be a distance or pounds lost.