Are you, your children or grandchildren looking to get a running start? Even if it's only a short run, here are some basic steps to follow to make training for an event safe and effective.
Check with Your Doctor. Although you're in it to have fun, training for an event needs to be safe. So, make your plan (below) and before you begin training, get the green light from your healthcare provider.
Start with a Training Plan. Match the starting level with your current ability, even if it's just a 1/4 mile a day, and push yourself a little more each week (experts advise 10 percent). How? Take the end goal – date and length of event – and subtract backwards from there to figure out when you need to begin training to guarantee a gradual increase in how much you can handle.
Next, schedule your runs into your week, just like you would a medical appointment. The most important piece of a successful training program is consistency; find a consistent time of day to train when there's very little chance of conflict with your training, such as early in the morning.. Training can result in injury if you're not consistent. Four to six days per week is a good frequency for training. Here's a sample Training Calendar.
Plan to train in the same shoes you will wear on race day to make sure you avoid injury. It’s best to go to a store that specializes in running shoes to make sure you get a good fit. Ask the salesperson to watch you while you run and evaluate the shoe that will best fit your running style. Try on shoes with the same socks you’ll wear while running.
Go shoe shopping later in the day, when your feet are at their largest. The shoes should fit snugly but not tightly. Experts say shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles, so keep track of how many miles you run in them. You may need to buy two pairs to ensure you have a pair that is not worn out come race day: one for training and the other for the run.
As for clothing, forget cotton and buy running clothes made of synthetic materials help to wick away perspiration. Again, an athletic clothing store is your best bet.
Stay Hydrated. The American College of Sports Medicine advises that, while individual needs vary, most people should drink about 8 to 16 ounces of water in the four hours before exercise. For vigorous exercise that lasts over an hour, sports drinks that provide small amounts of carbohydrates can improve your performance. The best choice is usually water.
Stay Fueled. Studies also show that people are able to put more effort into a workout and get more benefit out of it if they have eaten within three or four hours before exercise. If you exercise too early in the morning to eat beforehand, you might experiment with sports drinks, 100% percent juices and light snacks like a banana. And be sure to refuel after your workout to prepare your muscles for the next workout. Choose a snack with carbohydrates and some protein as soon after your workout as you can tolerate; your muscles will replenish fuel most efficiently within the first 30 minutes following a workout.
At meals, eat healthy: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and lean animal protein.
Get Enough Rest. Scheduling downtime is as important as training. Make sure you give yourself some extra sleep and relaxation during your training.
Listen to your own body – if something doesn't feel right, such as a sharp pain, dizziness or severe shortness of breath, stop, rest and consult a health professional. What's right for you isn't necessarily right for others, so don't measure your capacity by what you see others doing.
Good luck and have fun!
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