People run for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s stress relief, weight loss, training for a race or simply so you can eat that delicious piece of cake guilt-free, it’s important to run smart to avoid injury. However, knowing how to run smart can be overwhelming for runners of all abilities. Here are some tips to consider the next time you go for a run.
How to efficiently and safely train for running:
- If you’re new to running, starting with a run/walk program can help you better succeed. Use whatever time increments best suit your fitness level (example: run for 30 seconds, walk for one minute to recover and repeat.)
- If you’re new to running, start three to four times per week with low mileage and increase slowly.
- Don’t increase your weekly training mileage by more than 10 percent per week to help avoid injury (example: if you typically run three miles and would like to increase this, add no more than 0.3 miles in one week).
- Warm up, typically at least three to five minutes, followed by a gradual increase in intensity. At the end of a run, cool down for an additional three to five minutes to prevent blood from pooling in your legs and to allow your heart rate to decrease.
- You should be able to talk in full sentences when you run. If you’re unable to, you’re most-likely working above your target aerobic zone.
- At least some of your training needs to mimic the event you are training for, such as pace (minutes/mile).
- Allow at least one easy day of training/rest for every hard day of training.
- Strength train to avoid muscle imbalance.
- Stretch regularly following a run making sure not to bounce — hold for 20-30 seconds.
How to best refuel our bodies when we run:
- Sleep. The average person needs 7 ½ to eight hours of sleep per night. Increase this by one extra minute per night for each mile per week that you train.
- Diet. Refuel after a race or workout within 30-60 minutes with a combination of carbohydrates and protein.
- Hydrate. Stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after you run. It’s equally important to stay hydrated throughout the week, not just on the days you run.
Things to consider while training to run:
- General muscle soreness that’s gone in 24 hours is normal.
- Stop running if pain impacts your gait. Pain or stiffness should improve after the first 10 minutes — if not, stop.
- Finish your run feeling strong, not worn out.
- Watch out for excessive fatigue, a higher resting heart rate, sorer muscles, irritability, difficulty sleeping and decreased motivation.
- Cross-train if you’re unable to handle the impact of running on a daily basis — biking, elliptical training or swimming are excellent alternatives.
- Purchasing a good pair of running shoes is important. Make sure to replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles.
Whether you’re new to the sport or an elite athlete, running can be an enjoyable experience. Using these tips can help you become the runner you aspire to be.Leslie Grommersch, D.P.T., Kimberly Olsen, M.P.T., and Desiree’ Essler, M.P.T., are physical therapists at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.