First and foremost, keep your safety in mind. Here's a few tips: Run with a buddy; carry ID with you (tuck it in your shoe or clip it to your shorts); run unplugged--no IPods or MP3s--be alert to your surroundings; if running at dawn or dusk, wear reflective gear.
Stretching is an important component of any exercise program but it’s one that we often overlook when we just want to get going or when we’re too tired after a workout. Here are some basic rules of stretching:
- Try to warm up before stretching. Stretching muscles that are cold can cause the very injuries you’re trying to avoid. Jog or walk for a few minutes, or try some of the crazy activities we do on Monday nights!
- Most people don’t hold a stretch for long enough. Hold a stretch for about 20 seconds. However, back off if you feel any pain. Stretching should not be painful.
- After your workout, spend a few more minutes stretching, and focus on any areas that may have tightened up. Icing these areas is a good idea.
- Remember to stretch: Torso, Hips, Hamstrings, Quads, IT band, and Calves.
Running or walking at a comfortable pace is important in training, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. We often start at a pace that is too fast to maintain, and as a result we burn out and either cut the distance or slow down too much. Start out slowly, however far you’re going, and you’ll be able to maintain your pace or even speed up later on.
Keep a Log
A running/walking log is a great way to track your mileage and performance. You write down your mileage, time, and note the conditions and how you felt. It’ll also help you track the mileage on your shoes (more about that later.)
Follow the 10% Rule
Don’t increase your mileage by more than 10% from one week to the next. This means that if you ran 10 miles this week, you shouldn’t run more than 11 miles next week. Building up mileage gradually will help you avoid injuries caused by doing too much too soon, and it won’t seem so hard, either!
Track Shoe Mileage
Keeping track of how far your shoes have carried you and replacing them when they’ve expired is vital for staying injury-free. Your shoes should last around 300-400 miles, but factors such as foot strike do have a significant impact on how quickly your shoes break down, so you’ll need to pay attention to wear.
Eat healthier, and more colorfully. Need a healthier diet? Try scheduling a trip to a local farmer's market or roadside fruit stand. Variety is the way to go - the more colors in your basket, the more antioxidants you take in.
Women and Carbs
Women need more carbohydrates for optimal performance than men. If you are tapering for an upcoming race, increase your overall carb consumption by adding an extra piece of fruit or a bagel into your daily diet.