Whether you are stepping out for your first run or are already in a regular cardio routine and looking to challenge yourself, here are a few tips you can follow to help you get the most out of your run.
1. Plan it
Write down your daily goals and track your performance! This, may sound like complicating the simple joy of running, however, each step should be positive forward progression. Here’s an example: day 1: Goal – 30-minute run around the neighborhood. Once you’ve done the workout write: Completed. Felt good. When you confirm your goal and commit yourself to a plan, you are taking immediate action. When you go back and see what you have achieved and how you are growing as a runner, you get satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. With so many apps available, tracking and pushing yourself has never been easier. Map my Run is a crowd favourite for this.
2. Footwear is crucial.
Research suggests you should change your running shoes every six months or 500-800 kilometers. Don’t be led by looks. It doesn’t matter how good running shoes may looks with your running gear, it’s about what they are meant to do which is protect, support, cushion, and stabilize your foot when it makes contact with the ground. Choosing the proper sneaker for your foot is so important. Some shoe stores such as Athlete’s Foot now offer foot mapping and specialist advice on the best shoe for your step.
3. Change your route.
As well as keeping it interesting, changing up the terrain you run helps to prevent injury, increase running economy, build strength, and increase speed. Running is all about muscle memory, but your muscles only memorize what you teach them. If you’re only teaching them one thing, they will be less responsive to new courses, distances, and speeds. Variety works new muscles and teaches them how to handle new situations.
Try introducing some hill running. The benefits of hill running are that it makes you faster, builds up your leg strength, builds upper body strength, prevents injury and improves your running economy. Try adding hill repeats to the end of your workout once a week. Once you have built up your strength and endurance, consider doing a whole session on hills. Runner’s World, magazine and website often have great suggestions for running workouts.
4. Turn on those beats
As far fetched as it may sound, the wrong choice of music may actually, physically, hold you back on your runs? It has been found that, when training and listening to music you don’t like your blood vessels become restricted which in turn reduces your aerobic capacity by more than 10 percent. When you listen to music you like whilst training, your blood vessels expand by about 25 percent!! Crazy! Music is a great motivator and listening to the right type at the right time can actually improve your performance. One thing to note though is to be aware of your surroundings and be careful when crossing roads.
5. Fuel your body… or don’t fuel it!
A great way to maximise fat burning is to train on an empty stomach. As long as you rehydrate after your sleep, fasted training has been shown to achieve great fat burn because it enhances your muscle cells’ ability to produce energy.
BUT if you are doing a very intense session, you might want some carbs pre-workout to fuel you throughout! See what works best for you!
A healthy meal with protein and carbs the night before will help give you the energy you need to make the most of your run. NOW… that doesn’t give you license to load up on chips and a greasy burger! For best results, choose a balanced meal with unprocessed carbs such as lentils, quinoa, carrot, potatoes, pumpkin, pearl barley etc.
Magnesium is vital for the conversion of glycogen to glucose – the body’s main fuel during exercise. Without sufficient levels the body switches to anaerobic metabolism, resulting in a buildup of lactic acid and associated muscle soreness and spasms. This means if you are low in magnesium you are likely to feel tired and lack energy. The best way to absorb magnesium is to apply it directly to your skin.
6. Recover, Stretch and Magnesium
The “refueling window” isn’t a myth. So you don’t miss the opportunity to rebuild your glycogen stores quickly, you need to refuel within the magic 15 – 60 minutes after your workout. This also helps minimise muscle stiffness and soreness. The best fuel for your body after a run is carbs but don’t forget to add a little bit of protein to help rebuild those muscles that were broken down during your run.
There is no one golden ticket to quicker recovery but a combination of refueling, stretching and using topical magnesium will get you close. A foam roller is a great way to soften tight muscles. Focus on trigger points, the spots that refer pain, and take your time rolling out all your muscles.
Magnesium is essential for optimal muscle function. A deficiency in magnesium can result in muscle and nerve twitches, spasms and cramping. Heavy exercisers often experience a buildup of lactic acid, shin splints and painful muscles during and after exercise. Having sufficient magnesium helps speed up recovery, reduce fatigue and avoid injuries. The best way to get magnesium directly into your body and to target problem areas is through your skin. Using a Magnesium scrub in the shower provides an easy way to replenish your magnesium levels daily whilst repairing your skin at the same time.