Some people are hesitant to start running because they're worried about getting injured. The good news is that most running injuries are preventable. Follow these steps to keep yourself healthy and comfortable.
- Get the right running shoes. Be sure that your shoes aren't worn out and that you have the right model for your foot type and running style. The wrong shoe can actually aggravate existing problems, causing pain in your feet, legs, knees or hips. Wearing shoes that have lost their cushioning may also lead to injury. Go to a specialty running shop where you can be properly fitted for running shoes, and replace your running shoes every 350-500 miles.
- Avoid the "terrible too's". Many running injuries are a result of overtraining: too much intensity, too many miles, too soon. It's important to use a gradual approach when adding mileage or intensity to your training. Don't increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% each week. If you're adding speed, don't make a big increase in distance at the same time.
- Do regular strength-training. Some running injuries, especially knee and hip-related problems, are caused because of muscle weaknesses or imbalances. Doing core and lower body exercises two times a week can help keep injuries at bay.
Get more ways to prevent running injuries.
I can't think of any better way to stay motivated than running with other people. Who could possibly sleep in on a Sunday morning when you know your running buddy is going to be waiting at your favorite running trail? Besides more motivation, you'll get lots of other benefits of group training, from improved performance to expanded social circle.
The new year is a great time to resolve to find some running buddies. Not sure how to go about finding people to run with? Follow these steps -- and soon you won't be hitting the road by yourself.
This weekend is a big one for racing, from 5Ks to marathons. Whether you're running for under 30 minutes or over three hours, you'll need to be thinking about the race and preparing in the days leading up to it. For example, it's important to make sure you're getting decent sleep and not doing any intense or lengthy workouts. Here are some other tips for what to do in the next couple of days:
- What to Do Before Your 5K Race
- What to Do the Day Before Your Half or Full Marathon
- Should I Run the Day Before a Race?
Did you sign up for a 5K that's a month from now? You still have plenty of time to get ready for it. Check out these one-month 5K training schedules:
- 4-Week Beginner 5K Training Schedule
- 4-Week Intermediate 5K Training Schedule
- 4-Week Advanced 5K Training Schedule
If you've recently started a new running routine, you may be noticing that your stomach is growling more often than usual. It's normal to feel hungry when you get started with running or you increase your exercise frequency or intensity. You're burning more calories, so your body needs to take more in. It's one reason why some people find themselves not losing weight when they start running or even gaining weight when training for a long distance event, like a marathon.
Here are some ways you can avoid feeling hungry, with overindulging, and hopefully lose weight in the process:
- Get lots of healthy, high-fiber foods in your diet. Most high-fiber foods require more chewing, which helps to satisfy hunger. High-fiber foods are usually bulky so they fill up your stomach faster and can also delay the time it takes your stomach to empty. Also, many high-fiber foods are low in calories, so you can satisfy your hunger with fewer calories.
- Try eating five to six small meals as opposed to three large ones during the day. Eating more frequent, smaller meals helps keep you full, and lets you stay in control.
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can make you feel hungry, so if you get some hunger pangs, drink a glass of water. Then wait 15 minutes and see if your hunger subsides.
- Slow down when you're eating. If you eat quickly, you'll eat extra calories while your body is figuring out whether it's hungry. If you eat slowly, your brain will start sending signals to stop eating at the right time.
- Tips for Healthy Weight Loss
- Secrets of Skinny Runners
- Ways to Boost Your Metabolism
- How to Avoid Mindless Eating
Reader Whitney emailed me recently with the following concern:
"I am starting to run again four months after giving birth to my first baby. I'm now at a point where I have about 15 to 20 pounds to go. I ran for the first time today. It was scary! The jiggle wasn't as bad as I thought but it was just not what it used to be! Any advice for someone in my shoes?"
As a mom of two young kids, I have been in Whitney's shoes so I can empathize with her. I lost fitness during my pregnancies and I was discouraged and frustrated during my first several runs post-partum. But every week I felt stronger, more energized, and grateful to have some time to myself. So it's important to be patient -- it will eventually get easier!
If you recently gave birth and are ready to get started with (or return to) running, check out these post-partum running tips to stay safe, comfortable, and motivated.
At every marathon I've either run in or watched, I've always seen at least a few people walking during the last few miles, complaining that their legs are cramping. Some runners also experience muscle cramps towards the end of their long training runs. The culprit is often dehydration, so it's important that you hydrate properly before, during, and after your long runs and races. To prevent those painful muscle cramps, you need to replace sodium and other electrolytes lost through sweat, so it's especially critical that you make sure you consume sports drinks if you're running longer than 90 minutes.
Get more information on prevention and treatment of muscle cramps.
If I head out my front door and go for a long run, I can't avoid running on a busy, main street that also happens to be a giant hill. But I'm willing to suffer on the hill for a bit so I'm not stuck running boring loops around my neighborhood. Inevitably, a day or two after I do a long run, I bump into someone who says, "I saw you running the other day!"
It doesn't bother me that people see me slogging up a giant hill, or that they feel the need to tell me about it. I guess my issue is that I never know quite how to respond to the "I saw you running!" comments. I'm always tempted to say something like, "Did my butt look fat?" or "Eyes on the road, please!" But what usually comes out is something awkward like, "Oh, was I sucking wind going up the big hill?" Then they just nod or laugh (which I think also means, "Yes, that's what it looked like.").
How do you respond when someone proudly declares, "I saw you running!"? Take the poll or share your responses in the comments section.
New runner Jackie asks: "I just started a beginner running program. I feel like I'm slow, so I want to improve my speed, but I still can't run for very long. Should I first work on getting faster or running farther?"
It's definitely better to first increase the distance (or time, if you prefer to measure by time) of your runs. As you build up your endurance and strength, your speed will gradually improve.
Beginner runners shouldn't rush into formal speed training, such as interval workouts. Doing too much too soon is an easy way to get injured. After you've been running for about two months and have a nice base established, you can start by adding strides into one of your weekly runs. Or, try picking up the pace towards the end of one of your runs. But wait until you've been running consistently for at least 3-4 months before you start to add tempo runs, fartlek runs, or interval workouts.
Ask any running mom what she wants for Mother's Day and I'm sure "some time to run" is somewhere near the top of the list. Sure, a massage or pedicure gift certificate also makes most moms who run (and those who don't) happy, but sometimes the offer of some help can feel more luxurious, and be more valuable and meaningful than any present bought at a store.
If you want to treat a special running mom in your life, tell her you'll watch her kids for an hour or two, so she can go for a stress-reducing, mind-clearing run without having to push a jogging stroller or listen for a crying baby while running on the treadmill in the basement. When she gets back, she'll be so relaxed, you'll think she was really at the spa.
Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!