Presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
Congratulations! If you are visiting this page, it probably means you are preparing for a race…hopefully one of ours! We have compiled this information from our network of avid runners and trusted industry resources. While all of these tips may not be perfect for everyone, we certainly hope they help answer some of your running questions. Good luck training!
Your body is stronger than your mind. Run with your heart and your body will do the rest! #LiveFearlessNC
- How do I pick the right running shoes?
- Picking out the right shoe is essential to enhancing running performance and helping to avoid some common running injuries. It is best to visit a specialty running store when purchasing your shoes. The staff will be better equipped to help you select the optimal shoe and, on top of that, a good store will let you bring shoes back if you get home and realize they aren’t working for you. Try on multiple pairs and jog around to see what feels most comfortable. Your shoe fit should be snug, but not overly tight, to give your feet room to spread when you’re running. A good note to remember: running shoes aren’t meant to last forever! A good pair will last you between 400-500 miles and then you should look into retiring them. Cushioning will begin to flatten and it can cause strain to your knees and back, causing a lot of discomfort, and even injury.
- What should I wear when running?
- Keyword: BREATHABLE! As you move and sweat, you’ll want to wear materials that are going to wick moisture from your body. Technical running gear, made from synthetic fabrics will do just that. Coolmax and Dri Fit are some key phrases with which you should be familiar when picking out new exercise clothing. Same goes for your socks. Try to avoid cotton materials, this will help to avoid blisters.
- How should I dress for a winter run?
- When it gets colder and you’re tackling your outdoor runs, dress in thin layers. When you begin to sweat, you will be able to move more easily through thinner layers than if you were wearing a thick jacket. A running rule of thumb: dress as though it is 15 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. You will be chilly during your first mile, but as your heart rate begins to rise and your body temperature goes up, you won’t be stuck running uncomfortably or having to carry all the extra layers that you’ll end up shedding.
- What are some other great running tools?
- There are tons of great smartphone apps that can help with run routines and training programs. Some great apps to consider, just to name a few: Nike+ Running, RunKeeper, Strava and Endomondo. If you’re looking to make an investment into your running gear, you could consider purchasing a GPS or heart-rate watch. These can definitely help enhance your training by recording distance, pace, and your calories burned during a workout. You can find some top rated watches here.
- What should I eat before a run?
- You don’t want to run without any fuel! You’ll want to pick things that will be easy to digest so it will be gentle on your stomach. In turn, stay away from things that are processed and full of sugar. Depending on the intensity of your run, some smart snack options before a run would include: oranges, bananas, low fiber cereal, hummus and carrots and oatmeal. For longer and more intense runs take in foods with carbohydrates such as pastas, breads and legumes. Consuming carbs before and after a long run will stock the body with the energy it needs.
- Should I be adding anything special to my diet?
- Filling your body with mineral rich foods should be a rule of thumb with any lifestyle. With heavy amounts of cardio into your routine, eating well is particularly critical for energy, endurance and recovery. Consuming lean proteins, healthy fats (almonds and other nuts), fruits and vegetables will give your body what it needs. Incorporating a wide range of nutritious food options in your diet will help you perform your best.
- How much water should I be drinking?
- Proper hydration is critical for peak performance. A healthy water intake is 8 glasses a day. When you’re incorporating running into your day, a safe bet is to take in another glass of water for every half hour of cardio.
- How can I stay fueled during a race?
- You should drink water during runs, especially longer ones, but be careful how quickly you consume it as it may cause cramps. For longer, more intense work outs, replenish your energy by consuming a quick carbohydrate snack such as Sport Gels. They’re easy to carry and they give you an extra energy boost. Though they may not be as easy to transport, bananas and raisins are wonderful options as well.
- Can I walk during my runs?
- Yes, actually it is recommended! Walking is a great way to warm up your body, and you never want to push yourself past your limits. Walk briskly to keep your heart-rate elevated and mix in running to a comfortable level. This kind of interval training will help you slowly build your endurance. Try starting with one minute of walking for every three minutes of running. You will begin to see how easy it is to start adding more minutes to your running as your muscles become stronger!
- How fast should I run?
- For a beginner it is best to ease into your running pace. Pushing too hard will cause injuries. The goal of a workout is to feel better afterwards! Your run should be at a relaxed and comfortable pace, you should be able to jog and talk without being completely out of breath. If you’re gasping for air then you are pushing way too hard, take it easy!
- What’s the difference between running outside and on a treadmill?
- A treadmill can offer a low impact and convenient option for running, especially if outside weather conditions are poor. Also, the treadmill track has more ‘give’ than pavement, so it is a little easier on your joints. However, running outside can bring more intensity to your workout. Battling against wind, weather conditions, and natural inclines can help spice up a bland indoor running routine. Not to mention the fresh air and sightseeing can do us all some good!
- How should I breathe while running?
- Pay attention to your breathing and try to keep a rhythmic pace that coincides with your steps. Your muscles need plenty of oxygen when working out, so be sure that your breathing is deep and consistent.
- How can I stay motivated during my training?
- Buddy system! A wonderful way to keep up and continue a healthy lifestyle is to incorporate those that you love into your passion! In doing this, you can help hold each other accountable for your goals. Joining running clubs is a great way to meet new friends, learn from other runners, and maintain a consistent training schedule. Keeping logs of your training goals and accomplishments will also help you stay motivated and on track toward meeting your race day target!
- Should I mix strength training into my routine?
- Developing a strong core to your body can noticeably improve performance! Mixing up exercise routines is very good for muscle development. In addition to your running routine, incorporate things like sit ups, push ups, and squats – all exercises you can do in your own living room!
- What should I do before and after a run?
- Before the run, warm up by doing 5 – 10 minutes of dynamic stretching where you incorporate muscle stretches into strength activities like lunges or squats (see Runner’s World website for videos). Static stretching (e.g., touching your toes for 15 seconds) actually weakens muscle and should be saved for after the workout. Then, start your run slowly and increase pace as your heart rate begins to rise. As you begin to wrap up your run, walk off the last 10 minutes to normalize your breathing and prevent cramping from an abrupt stop. Then of course, stretch again! But this time, static stretching is fine.
- What should my running form be?
- Do not force your body to imitate how you may see others run. Do what feels comfortable to you. Try to keep your head up, back straight, and arms in close. It shouldn’t feel unnatural to you, and forcing it can cause discomfort after your run.
- What should I do if I start to feel pain while running?
- Slow down or Stop! Running through pain will only make things worse, no matter what others may tell you! If you feel that you are experiencing pain frequently then you may need to rethink your training and take it back a few notches. If you develop an injury, take some time off to properly heal. Don’t come back from an injury too fast or you run a higher risk of re-injury. Your body will let you know if something is wrong, so be sure to listen to it. Consult a professional if stretching, rest, ice and/or heat don’t fix the problem.
- What is the best running surface?
- Easy, all of them! This is all up to runner preference! Trail running gives the perfect balance between firm and a soft impact running surface. The same is true for grass. However, running on road and concrete surfaces is sturdier and could provide better ankle support. Any surface can present obstacles, so keep your eyes open and be safe!
Source: Runners World- Complete Book of Beginning Running
Running in a road race is a potentially hazardous activity. Please consult your physician to ensure that that you are medically able and properly trained for the event.
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