Tanya Boyer, publisher of Rocky Mountain Running and Triathlon Magazine shares spring running tips to help you emerge from winter hibernation!
Snow-vembersent many runners off the streets into hibernation earlier than usualwith the third deepest snowfall on record. In December the rains came down and the floods came up with precipitation near 200% of normal. February began with an arctic blast. As spring approaches many of us are ready to just get out and run. However, with warmer weather and more hours of daylight, the biggest enemy may be our own energy and enthusiasm. Follow these five simple running tips as you emerge from the winter slumber to stay strong and healthy.
#1 – The 10% Rule
For runners/walkers who took the winter off, realize you can’t start up again where you left off last fall. For new runners, start with very short distance outings. And for both, only increase your weekly mileage by 10% each week. This rule is one of the most time-proven principles in running; those who try to skirt around it may experience burn-out or an overuse injury. For example, if you go out three times this week, two miles each outing (6 miles total for the week), next week you would only increase the total weekly mileage by .6 of a mile. Or, if you run 10 miles this week, next week you would run 11 miles total. While this may seem like an agonizingly slow increase, it allows the body to build a solid base which results in a stronger and more fit runner later. Slow and steady wins your race.
#2 – Strength Train
During the winter slumber we probably lost a little strength. Runners often neglect strength/weight training because they think it will add unnecessary weight and bulk, or they just don’t recognize the benefits. Strength/weight training increases muscular endurance and mass (not the mass of bodybuilders!), builds bone density, and reduces the risk of injury – important for all runners but especially for women and especially as we age. Weight training doesn’t have to be done at the gym; it can be done at home while you watch Studio 5.
Legs: Runners obviously need strong legs to propel the run, but lower leg weight training also helps with shin splints and knee pain. Good exercises include rocket jumps, single leg squats, leg extensions.
Core: Your core, or midsection area, is the foundation from which all movement is initiated. A strong core encourages good posture and running form and enables a strong finish-line kick when you feel tired. Good exercises include plank, superman, stability ball jackknife.
Arms & Shoulders: Non-runners might wonder why a runner needs strong arms and shoulders, but as any runner will attest, they both get very tired when running. Arms help propel the body forward. Shoulders stabilize the neck and back and need to be strong and loose so they don’t tighten up during a run. Good exercises include tricep dips, forward raise, shoulder press.
#3 – Cross Train
Cross-training exercise – swimming, cycling, snowshoeing, stair climbing – supplement and reinforce your running. They also give variety to your exercise program and keep it exciting. If you pound the pavement every day, you may find you loose the thrill and love of running. Cross-training exercises will strengthen muscles not normally used in the run, but those that will ultimately make you a better runner.
#4 – Stretch
During the winter inactivity we also lost some flexibility and range of motion. There has been much debate over whether stretching actually benefits runners, but that fact is a flexible body is more efficient, has a larger range of motion, is injured less, recovers quicker, and simply feels better. New research encourages dynamic stretching (such as lunges) or stretches that mimic running movement (such as butt-kicks) over the traditional static stretching (bend over to touch toes or knee bent and pull foot into buttox). Those traditional stretches may actually cause the muscles to tighten, and should be done after a workout or at the end of the day, not before a run.
Visit www.runnersworld.com to see 6 great pre-run stretches. Yoga is also great for runners as it stretches muscles in the whole body and also the ligaments, tendons and joints around them.
#5 – Proper Nutrition
My favorite phrase regarding nutrition is “Eat to run, don’t run to eat.” Many of us have spent the winter months eating comfort foods and home-baked goodies. Now it’s time to focus on nutrition that will fuel our running, walking, and exercise. Here are three simple “don’ts” to help guide your nutrition.
• Don’t skip breakfast. Your body needs that fuel to survive the day. A previous segment on Breakfasts for Runners can be found here: studio5.ksl.com
• Don’t let all your hard work and persistence go to waste by feeding your body junk. Make the effort to feed yourself high quality, non-processed, whole foods. Eat lean proteins (poultry and fish), quality carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables), and dark greens (iceberg lettuce has very little nutritional value). The healthiest foods are those as close to their natural state as possible, such as raw vegetables, packed with nutrients needed to fuel and repair the body in training.
• Don’t forget water. Drink at least 64 ounces of water each day, more if you can, and skip the sugar-bomb drinks. Every system in your body depends on water – it flushes toxins, carries nutrients to cells, and gives you energy.
While this isn’t a tip to keep you strong and healthy, most runners find that training for a specific event can be highly motivating. Pick an event, register for it, and enjoy the journey. Both the preparation for the race and the race itself are very rewarding and beneficial to your health. The Pink Series (www.thepinkseries.com) will host a ladies only 5K in March and a half marathon in October, both great events to push you out of hibernation.
Tanya Boyer is the publisher of Rocky Mountain Running & Triathlon Magazine and race director for The Pink Series. Her main job, however, is that of mommy to three young children and wife to the most patient man in the world. Running and triathlon are her way of staying young and mobile.
Rocky Mountain Running & Triathlon Magazine is an information source for runners and triathletes in the Mountain States. To subscribe for home or office delivery, visit www.rockymtnrunning.com and enter the coupon code STUDIO5.