Long runs involve increasing your usual running distance. If you run an average of 2km a day, you can take it up to 3 or 5km. Long runs help increase your endurance, and make you stronger as well. The longer you are able to run, the better you get. Remember to increase your distance gradually, and take occasional breaks to let your body rest.
Running on terrains
Running on different terrains, such as roads and hills, helps your muscles to develop. Gravity plays a big role on helping you develop your muscles on elevated terrains, since you use more force to push yourself up. Remember to run on a terrain slowly at first, and let your body get used to it first. This will help you avoid accidents and injuries.
Speed workouts are good intensive workouts for you to try once in a while. In speed workouts, you focus on developing your speed, by performing plyometrics, sprinting workouts or other exercises. Your speed will improve dramatically if you incorporate speed workouts into your running for about 2-3 times a week.
Tempo running workouts basically involves running hard at a sustained pace for a period of time. This type of running workout improves your running power if you gradually increase the time you do the workout. Your muscles are able to adapt to the current tempo, and you are able to exert more force every time you run.
The most common mistake runners make in running down hills is not maintaining proper running form. Many runners want to lean back like they are putting on the brakes. While others will lean too far forward heading down the hill. Leaning too far into the downhill can cause you to lose balance and can actually cause you to fall.
You want to basically run down hills as if you were running on flat ground. Lean slightly forward – keep your shoulders just a little in front of you and your hips under you. Just make sure that you are not hunching over – which can also hamper your breathing.
Also, make sure you are keeping your eyes forward – and directly on the ground in front of you. This is important on all levels and terrain – but especially on the down hills. If you are looking at your feet you will also have trouble maintaining balance.
Make sure that you are not overstriding. Many runners want to take too large a stride and pound down hills. You don’t want to cause your quads to take more of a pounding than necessary. You want to keep nice short, quick strides. This will make you have a quickly stride turnover and get you down the hill efficiently.
Many runners also lose control of their arms and let them fling wildly as they go down a hill. You want to keep your arms close to you and let your arms swing just a little lower. As you want to keep your body controlled – it is important to keep control of your arms, also.
Running hills is a great way to become a stronger runner – but many runners fear them. But, there is no need to. Remember that gravity is your friend. Gravity is helping to pull you down the hill – so use it to your advantage. Hopefully these tips will help you to feel more comfortable when you are coming back down the hills.
Good warm up is the key
When running farther, your mental preparation isn’t actually the only factor to doing it. If you want to run as farther as you can, you need to prepare your body as well. While you don’t really need to do an extensive warm-up and stretching session like if you were to run at your maximum speed, you only need to do a few exercises to prepare your muscles for more strain and to prevent yourself from getting injured (don’t forget to cool down as well after every running session).
Don’t push yourself too hard
I know that most people are impatient because they need instant results. However, if you want to build up a good running endurance, then patience must be in your gear bag. Good runners usually put in very small increments that most people don’t notice. However, after several weeks or even months, these small increments become very obvious to anyone. Try increasing your distance by 5 or 10% each week. When you first start, try to measure what’s your maximum distance that you can’t cross. You should stay in that zone until you become comfortable with it. After a week, try to increase it a little and get comfortable to it and so on and so forth.
I always perform better when I have company with me. The reason behind this is that you get motivated when someone is running with you. Motivation is what keeps a beginner runner away from giving up on running the first few weeks. So try to make use of it.
Shed Weight with Protein
As you know, protein is critical for muscle repair and proper recovery, but it can also help you suppress appetite by keeping hunger pangs at bay. Researchers at the Cambridge University and The University of Sydney found that people who ate a daily diet comprising of fifteen percent protein consumed less calories protein – 1036 fewer calories over four days – than those whose diet is ten percent.
Ditch the Low-calorie Drinks
Low-calorie drinks are popular but don’t let the label fool you. Research from Yale University found that diet drinks can actually hinder weight loss by making you crave sugary foods. These drinks are usually full with artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and saccharin, which boost blood sugar levels thus increasing your desire for unhealthy snacking and the likelihood of overeating.
Banish the Booze
You may like your beer, but in excess it can wreak havoc on your weight loss and training performance. According to a Swedish study published in the journal Obesity, consuming alcohol boosts cortisol levels and diminishes testosterone in men, thus leading to an accumulation of abdominal fat. Not only that, researchers at the University of Helsinki found that alcohol hinders post-workout recovery by cutting the delivery of fatty acids and carbohydrates for the body.
Make It Consistent
Though the above eating guidelines can help you lose the pounds for good, what makes the difference is consistent action. In other words, you need to implement what you’ve just learned on a regular basis – at least up to the point where you start getting the desired results. To be consistent with your running weight loss program, you need to take small steps, think baby steps. Seek incremental progress, not perfection, as the famous alcoholic anonymous saying goes.
Gloves are something that runners need for their winter running. Let’s talk a little about it.
You can lose as much as 30% of your body heat through your hands. So, it’s important to keep them covered. On really cold days, gloves will also work to wick away moisture to keep your hands even warmer.
Also, when the temperature dips below 30 degrees, I’ll wear my Gore-Tex mittens. The combination of Gore-Tex and mittens will keep your hands and fingers nice and toasty even on the coldest day. However, and I have found this out through experience, if the temperature is over 30 degree and it’s sunny – stick with your regular running gloves. Your hands will actually be sweating if you wear your mittens.
How cold it is when you put on your gloves is actually a personal preference. I know that my hands are the first things that get cold on me. My fingertips will get cold and then I’m pretty miserable my whole run. So, I’m usually wearing gloves if the temperature is under 45. (Remember, I’m also running in the morning before the sun comes up – so I don’t have the extra warmth of the sun.).
Also, have different gloves for different temperatures. I have my Gore-Tex mittens for when it really cold, a nice compression pair that I wear during temperatures of probably 35 degrees – 45 degrees and a light-weight pair that I wear when it’s a little warmer – but still glove wearing weather.
Some of you may say that when it’s 45 degrees out, you have on shorts. There are many days (especially in the Spring and Fall) when I’ll have on gloves and shorts. Remember, we want to be comfortable during our runs. And that means comfortable for you – not for someone else.
And, I love the fact that gloves aren’t just black and blue. My lightweight pair are bright pink and I absolutely love the pair you see pictured. I have my eyes and them and will probably order them soon! Be fun with your choice of gloves – but make sure that they are moisture-wicking and will serve the purpose you need them for.
When you are starting a training program, you want to make sure that you don’t increase your mileage too quickly. This also applies to runners that are coming back taking time off from their running. You want to increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% from one week to the next. For example, if you are running 10 miles this week, you only want to run 1 more mile the next week.
You also want to make sure that you are giving your body time for rest and recovery after hard workouts. A rest day can be a complete day off, a day of easy and less miles or it can be a day of cross training. Cross training can be a nice walk, strength training, cycling or swimming. Whatever works for you, make sure that you are giving your body days to recover after a hard workout. This will also use different muscles than your running muscles, which will in turn make you a stronger runner.
Another way to help with overtraining is to give yourself a week of rest. Now, I don’t mean take a week completely off. Every 4 weeks or so, when you have been working out hard, give yourself a week where you do about 50% of your usual mileage. This gives your body (and mind) a rest. And, you’ll be surprised how much a rest week will refresh you.
To help with possible overtraining, there are a couple of more things that you need to do. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep. The amount of sleep each person needs is different, but you need to make sure that you are getting the amount your body needs for peak performance. Also, make sure that you are eating correctly. You need to replenish the calories that you are using during your runs. Remember a general rule is to have 60% carbs, 25% fat and 15% protein. This will make sure that you are refueling adequately.
- Running helps your brain age better.
We are all worried about gray hair and wrinkles, but how many of you give a second thought to your brain showing signs of age. In addition to preventing or reversing age-related shrinkage, running affects brain chemicals in a way that sets runners up to have healthier-than-average brains later in life. Researchers proves that athletes’ brains showed greater metabolic efficiency and neural plasticity.
- Running boosts your ability to learn and recall information.
Moderately fit people do better on memory tests than those who were less fit (or not fit at all). There is also a great deal of research that links running to a better ability to focus, to juggle multiple tasks, and to make distinctions. Most runners will tell you that they can focus on tasks way better after they have logged some miles. Personally, I have a hard time focusing if I haven’t had my morning sweat session.
- Running conditions your brain to store more fuel.
Most of you already know that training conditions your muscles to store more fuel, but you might not realize that your brain adapts in the same way. Researchers believe that larger glycogen stores in the brain may be one of the reasons running boosts cognitive function.
- Running keeps your brain full of feel-good chemicals.
Exercise promotes the release of the feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Additionally, like many antidepressant medications, running helps your brain hold on to mood-boosting neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. It does matter where you run. Studies show that best results are achieved when running out in the open, in nature – like in a park, on a trail, or on the beach. Quiet, serene spaces are better than crowded city street, and far better than the treadmill at the gym. Several studies found people in parks experienced brain activity similar to that seen during meditation, while people on streets experienced frustration.
Stretching before running is a little different than stretching after running. You need to warm your muscles up a bit before stretching by running in place for about sixty seconds. Even then, before running, stretches should be milder than after running stretches. Be gentle with your muscles, remember you are only trying to “wake them up” and get them prepared for running. However, you should never try to push through resistance or pain whether stretching before or after running.
While opinions vary on what the best stretches actually are, here is a list of those stretches that most experienced runners consider to be the best.
- Wall Pushups, there are a number of wall pushups that you can do and these different exercises are intended to stretch different muscle groups. There are wall pushups for stretching calves, shoulders, hips, lower back and legs. You should do a combination of wall pushups before and after running.
- The heel to buttock is self-explanatory. Place one hand on a wall and raise and grasp one foot and bring it as close as comfortably possible to the buttock. Then switch and alternate with the other foot. This will stretch your quadriceps.
- One of the more colorfully named exercises is the Back Scratch. This is done by crossing your arms, grasping your elbows and gently pushing up over your head until your hands are in a position to reach down and scratch your back.
- The Hamstring and Back Stretch is a simple exercise where you lie on your back, bring your knees up to your chest and hug your legs for about thirty seconds.
- In the Groin Stretch, sit down and put the bottoms of your feet together, then lean forward with your elbows on your knees and gently push your knees toward the ground.
Aside from the normal running stretches, a moderate yoga program is also a good idea. There are yoga exercises that stretch every muscle involved in running and more.
- Plan your run so that you start out heading out facing into the wind. This gives you a little extra work-out with the resistance heading out. Doing this will also help you on the way back. You’ll be a little tired from the extra energy exerted – so the wind will help push you on your way back.
- Lean into the wind. If you lean into the wind – it will help deflect it a little. Think car racing. If you’re not running totally upright, you ‘ll have some resistance against the wind.
- Relax your shoulders. Many runners want to run tense up and lift their shoulders when running during windy days. Keeping your shoulders will help keep you from having muscle soreness in your neck and shoulders after your run.
- Remember that your pace will be slower with the wind in your face. But, then, you’ll be faster once you turn around! Studies show that your pace can increase by about 5% with the wind at your back, but when you are running into the wind your pace can decrease by about 8%. This was done at 10 mph winds – so imagine the workout you’re getting at 25 mph winds! Just know that it’s OK if you’re running slower – but remember you may be getting a better workout with the extra resistance.
- Drink your water. On windy days – the wind will dry the sweat from you. Remember that sweat on your skin in a good thing for cooling your body. So, be sure you’re keeping up with your water intake.
Having a running streak is excellent motivation to get out the door to get your run in. All of us have days where we’d probably like to stay in bed that extra hour, but we know that we need to get our run in. So, having the streak makes it easier. And, all runners know that the hardest step on those days is the first one out the door.
Running every day keeps you healthier. Personally, I have had few colds in my life and rarely anything worse. One year, I came down with a case of the shingles. I still made myself run a mile each day – and was over them in a week. I firmly believe that running got the nasty stuff out of my system a lot quicker.
If you think you may have an inner streaker in you wanting to get out – there are some things that you want to remember. First of all, you need support of your family. My husband knows that I’m going to get my run in each day even if nothing else gets done. And, he’s alright with that – and supports my running in so many ways.
Being a streaker doesn’t mean running flat out, long distances every day. You need to take easy days, also. There are days where you may just run a slow mile or two when you are recovering from a longer run or speed work. These “rest” days are very important.
Also, you need to listen to your body. This is truly the way to keep running through life, if you’re a streaker or not. If your body is telling you to take an extra easy day – make sure that you do it.
Now, I know that everyone is not cut out to be a streaker. But, I know that I enjoy my running each day – and can’t remember a day when I didn’t get the run done. It works for me – keeps me healthy, energetic, positive and full of life.