I wrote this post a while back as part of a post exchange with Running in T-shirt. He chronologs his training schedule and talks about different races that he is competing in. Good stuff! Since one of my clients is currently training for a half-marathon and I had a stellar run this morning, I thought it was time to share with all of you these tips on how to stay healthy, and get faster in your running endeavors whether you are a beginner, or a seasoned veteran.
1. Run on Soft Surfaces
Have you ever been plagued with shin splints? (Great tip to deal with those: freeze little dixie cups of water and tear enough paper away enough that you can rub the ice on your shin.) Chances are these were caused by running on hard surfaces. Sometimes it is hard to avoid, but if you are going for a long run, try to run on some dirt trails or on grass for at least part of the run.
2. Invest in Quality Shoes
Those Nike Frees may look cool, but when it comes to support, they are definitely lacking. Try on a bunch of different kinds of shoes, and don’t be afraid to spend a little extra. It will be cheaper than the overuse injuries you will sustain from having sub-par shoes. Everyone on my team in college ran in Asics so that’s the brand that I stand behind, but going in and trying some shoes on in person is of vital importance to making sure that you have good shoes. Conventional wisdom says to replace your shoes every 500 miles or so, so try to keep track of mileage, and replace accordingly.
3. Spend Some Time on Flexibility Training
We all think about building muscles and getting stronger. But if you have no range of motion, what is all that strength going to be worth? Even worse, tight muscles can lead to injury which will take you away from running (exactly what you want to avoid!). I wrote a post a while back on the importance of flexibility training and I made a video with a 10 minute stretching routine that provides a quick way to work on that.
Another form of flexibility training is rolling out. This is a (sometimes painful) process that breaks up tension in the muscles. This can be done with a PVC pipe or a rolling pin. I have a post on what rolling out is, some equipment you can use for it, and a video on how to use it.
4. Interval Workouts- You can benefit from speed work too!
You don’t have to be a sprinter to benefit from some simple speed work. After you have built a base of longer distance running, doing a little bit of speed work can be a great way to get a new PR! Some suggestions include strides, fartleks, hill repeats, or track workouts.
5. Leg Swings, Leg Swings, Leg Swings
This goes back to the whole flexibility thing. Improving the flexibility of your hips can do wonders for your times! Watch this great video from Somax Sports for a little bit more information on the bio-mechanical advantages of loose hips. So grab a hurdle, a table, a tree, really anything and swing those legs!
6. Ice Bucket Challenge! Well kind of…
Throwing it back to the summer of 2014, lets talk about getting in some tubs of ice. Icing after running can do wonders for preventing injury and flush harmful chemicals from your body. It will also reduce soreness and swelling allowing you to train more frequently. Runner’s World had a great article on the benefits of icing a while back. Plus, sitting in a tub of ice for ten minutes at a time is bound to do wonders for your mental stamina.
7. Don’t be afraid to take time to recover!
Stress fractures and burnout are a very real danger. I know everyone likes to have high streaks, but be smart and know your body. If you feel an injury coming on, take a rest day! Whether that means taking the day off, just taking a short, slow run, or even cross training like swimming or biking. You don’t have to macho man your way through injuries, because that will inevitably end up with you having to take EVEN MORE time off of running to recuperate from a major injury.
I hope some of this advice is helpful to you! If you have any more questions I would love to hear from you! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also like my page on Facebook or follow me on Instagram to keep up to date.