Every runner is different and every run is unique, so here we’ve put together five dos and five don’ts when it comes to getting the best out of yourself as a runner, whether you’re a newbie or experienced.
Here, we kick off with five things you should do…
INVEST IN A GOOD PAIR OF RUNNERS
This doesn’t mean you have to buy the biggest brand and most expensive shoe in the store, but make sure you know your size, foot type (a running gait analysis test in-store can help with this) and pick a pair with good stability and cushioning on the outer and inner sole.
It can be pretty tempting to put on your trainers and hit the roads right away. But, failure to warm-up and stretch can lead to injury and ultimately you won’t be able to run.
Seasoned runners will spend between 15-30 minutes working up a sweat and flexing and stretching the key lower leg muscle groups to get everything in working order before running. Although this a good length of time to get you going ahead of your run, if you’re new to running, stick to a solid five-minute warm-up and loosen up your whole body.
Stretch your hamstrings, lunge side to side, pull-up your quads, rotate your hips and lower back and get your arms moving.
CREATE A TRAINING PROGRAMME
With so many performance-based applications and watches now to record your distances, times and monitor your heart rate, we are often overwhelmed with data. Whatever your end goal or objective, it’s good to use this information as part of a wider programme to enhance your running experience.
By having a schedule, it’s easy to document your weekly KMs, check your progress and see how you can move forward. The myth is that it has to be really in-depth but keep it plain and simple, record some notes on your phone and utilise various apps to help you out.
MIX IT UP AND JOIN A RUNNING CLUB
Interval training and speedwork compliment long and steady runs very well, as does getting involved running in a group. While, of course, we all need to enjoy our individual runs where we can just zone out and relief some stress, running with others can really help your motivation levels. It’s also a great way to meet new friends and there are plenty of options available in the UAE.
When you stop running, the temptation is to just sit down, slouch and eat right away. But, to stop the onset of muscle soreness and build-up of lactic acid, keep walking for a short period after you finish and stretch out your muscles with some dynamic movements and foam rolling. It only take a few minutes, and coupled with rehydrating, will help keep you fresh and injury-free. Recovery is an aspect of running which shouldn’t be undervalued whatsoever. It’s better to be able to run than be on the sidelines with an injury, right?
BUILD UP YOUR VOLUME TOO QUICKLY
It’s a common mistake made by plenty of runners out there who may run long run after long run, and while you might be feeling good, the body is in danger of breaking down when you increase mileage too quickly. It’s better to start off slow, introduce a training programme with weekly targets you want to run and gradually start stepping on the gas more week-by-week, with frequent rest days in-between and even a week off of running.
Running, particularly on hard surfaces, can takes its toll on your body so it’s vital you complete strength and conditioning work, with a mixture of upper and lower-body exercises on alternate days to your running. This will help to maintain your running form and ability to run bigger and better. Short, high-intensity workouts featuring exercises such as planks, pull-ups, weighted lunges, squats, mountain climbers and high and low kicks should form part of your training.
EAT HEAVILY BEFORE RUNNING
An obvious one, but leave it at least two hours after food before you run. Eat light and keep hydrated with water and glycogen drinks, especially in hot and humid UAE conditions.
IGNORE YOUR BODY
If you feel tired and aren’t in the mood to run then take that as a sign from your body that it requires some rest. The more and more you exercise you’ll get a feel for how your energy levels are and how you feel physically. Running on tired legs and a tired mind can actually do more damage than good.
FOCUS ON OTHERS
It’s great to get inspired by fellow runners and friends, but do what feels comfortable and good for you when it comes to training and performance in events. We are all different, work to varying training thresholds and some of our bodies can naturally take more pain and strain than others. Try and establish what is good for you rather than try and copy-cat what works for others.