Dealing With Pre-Race Jitters

Many runners get anxious because they are afraid that they are going to forget something important. Have a checklist before you leave home with what you need. Type out a checklist, laminate it and actually check it off as you pack. Include everything – shoes, socks, anything that you may need. Even though it may be the middle of summer, I’ll still pack a lightweight pair of tights and a long sleeve shirt. You never know when the weather may turn. Be prepared for anything.

Sometimes your nervousness before a race is because you are afraid of the unknown. A good way to get over this is to be prepared for the race at hand. Get there early and get a map of the race course. Drive over it so that you will know where all the turns, hills, and finish line are located. Familiarity with the course will help you in this area.

Make sure that you get everything ready for race day the night before. I check a weather app to see what the weather will be hourly at the start and during the race so I’ll know what to wear. Then, lay out what you want to wear and pin your racing bib to the front of your shirt. Have your shoes and socks ready and if the race uses a timing chip – get it attached. Having everything ready before you go to bed causes you to be less anxious on race morning.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Many runners get overly stressed out because they feel that they need to run a certain time. Just have the attitude that you are going to run your best and take that weight off of your shoulders.

You’ve trained hard for your race. You know that you are ready. Follow these tips and let the excitement of race day carry you to a wonderful day.

Running After an Injury

Most injuries occur when we try to push ourselves to run too far, too fast, too soon. I actually injured my left hip flexor when I tried to do a 30 day run streak. I was only running roughly 3 days a week at the time, averaging about 15 miles. My so called 30 day run streak only lasted 9 days. And I have since been on and off the sideline since the beginning of November.

Depending on the severity of your injury is what determines just how much time off from running is needed. For a mild muscle strain or shin splints, a few days with proper stretching and ice (for the first 24-48 hours) will typically be enough. A moderate injury such as a strained ankle, knee or even a moderate hip flexor injury, generally requires anywhere from one to three weeks off to heal. And when it comes to a severe injury such as a severe hip flexor injury, a runner could be looking at up to eight weeks to fully recover. Only after you have taken the necessary time to complete some physical therapy, massage, and strengthening for your injury will you then be able to gradually make your way back to running.

Trying to run before your muscles have healed will definitely result in you taking even more time off and possibly even injure yourself even worse. I know this all too well, because I have tried more than once to start running before my hip was ready. And as I sit here writing this article today, I am still feeling the pain in my hip, because just yesterday I went out for a run knowing in the back of my mind that it may just be too soon. And, it was!

It is also very important that when you do go out for your first run after your injury has healed, you must take it slow. You can’t just go back out there and run the miles or the speed that you were doing before the injury. Start off with low miles and a slow speed, and gradually build yourself back to your pre-injury running schedule.

So please learn from me… When injured, take the time to heal your body first. And take your time when getting back into your running routine. Come back stronger and healthier than before you became injured.

Running With Your Dog

First of all, don’t run with a puppy. Your puppies’ bones and joints are growing when they are young – just as humans do. So, you want your dogs to be mature enough when they start running so that they don’t get injured. Smaller dogs can finish growing in 8 – 10 months, while longer breeds may take 16 – 18 months to mature.

In addition, you don’t want to run with your dog if he is too mature. You should not run with a dog that is 7 years or older. Remember dog years are more than human years.

Start running with your dog easily. Just as humans need to ease into a running program – so does your dog. Your first runs with your dog should be slow and easy and then gradually increase your mileage. And, as your feet toughen up to running – so does your dog’s feet – or his pads. They will toughen up – but you need to start easy. Keep an eye on his feet after your runs together to make sure they are not tender or bleeding.

Just as you need to stay hydrated, so does our dog. Make sure that you make arrangement for water stops for your dog as well as for you. It is extremely important for your dog to get water on his runs.

Make sure that you have your dog on a leash when you run. It is so tempting for a dog to run off when he sees another animal. For his safely, please keep him on that leash.

Have something with you to dispose of any waste. You know how annoying it can be to “step into something” when you are out on a run. Don’t be the person who leaves something for someone else to step in.

Make sure that you are keeping an eye on your dog that he doesn’t become overly tired. Watch to see that he isn’t overly panting, slowing down or his down. If he shows any of these signs, stop and try to cool him off immediately. You can water him down and get him inside. He may have gone too far on the run or too quickly. If he still acts funny after working with him for 10-15 minutes, you need to take him to see a vet.

Have Regular Pedicures

One of the best ways to take care of your feet is to get regular pedicures. Having a pedicure does more than just make your feet look nice. Some things that are done during a pedicure are: getting your feet soaked and thoroughly cleaned, your toenails cut and trimmed and a wonderful (and I do mean wonderful) foot and lower leg massage.

The first thing that happens when you go in for a pedicure is you get to soak your feet in a little whirlpool tub. In most pedicure parlors, you also sit in a massage chair. The massage chair and the feet soak is reason enough for me – it just feels wonderful!

After the cleaning, then your toenails are trimmed and shaped. For many people, it’s hard to reach down to cut your toenails properly. It’s nice to have someone to do this for you – and to make sure it’s done correctly. Since it is hard to do on your own, sometimes they are not trimmed correctly and can cause ingrown toenails – which in turn can cause pain on your runs. Also, having your toenails trimmed will keep them from jamming into the toe box of your shoe – which can cause pain and black toenails.

The pedicurist will also buff off the rough spots and calluses from your feet. Make sure that you tell them that you are a runner and to do that gently.

Then comes another marvelous part of the pedicure. When all this is done – you will get a foot and lower leg massage. I’m sure that I don’t need to tell you how great this feels after you have completed a race or a long run!

Now, don’t think that you can only get a pedicure if you are a female. There are several men who come in where I get mine done. They know how great it feels, also!

There are many podiatrists that suggests regular pedicure for runners. They feel that many calluses, blisters and black toenails could be prevented with pedicures. I’ve been having regular pedicures for years – and I can tell you from experience that it feels absolutely wonderful after a long run!

Running For Overweight People

Believe in yourself

Running is not an easy task for overweight people because they are being out of shape. Nevertheless, believing in yourself can produce miracles. Your beliefs are like the set of rules that dictate your mind. Therefore, if you strongly believe that you can become a slim, healthy runner, then chances are that you will be able to reach that goal.

You can use visualization to develop your self confidence, motivation and performance throughout your running program.

Build up slowly

You should not try to do too much running too soon. This is a big mistake and can lead to a lot of injury and health problems. If you are running too much during your first days of training, then you will be burned out and disappointed. You should be able to accept the fact that you might not be able to run at all at first due to your overweight and out of shape condition.

You should start slowly and develop on the intensity as time goes by. For example, you might only need to walk for 25 minutes three times a week in your first month and then you begin to add 30 seconds of running and one minute of walking during your workout days in the second month and so on.

Regularly check your heart rate

You need to check your heart rate to make sure that you are not doing too much running too soon. If your heart rate in the morning is too high – between 6 and 12 beats per minute – than its regular level, then this means you are doing too much.

You should check your heart rate in the morning and log down your data on your running journal. As your training progresses, your pulse will also improve. Your heart will become more efficient to pump blood and work on your muscles.

Log your runs

You need to log your runs so that you can analyze what you need to improve. A running log can help you to track your progress and doing this is crucial for your success and constant improvement.

On your running log, you need to track your distance, pace and the type of workouts that you have completed on a regular basis. Additionally, you can clearly see the progress of your fitness and weight loss goals so you will never lose sight of them. This is a great tool to boost your motivation as a runner.

Support For Runners

The people that we tend to talk about running the most are to our spouses. They have to hear about the good training runs, the bad training runs, that little glitch that we feel in our foot and so on and so on. And, as good significant others – they listen intently and show interest. But, do you show interest in what they are doing?

That’s something that I’ve found very important in my relationship with my husband. He is definitely a non-runner. I’ve known that from the day that we met and I also knew with his bad knees and bad back that he never would be. And, I never tried to turn him into one. His passion is cars – he restores and shows classic muscle cars.

So, in return for his listening to me go on and on about running and being there at the finish line of races holding my “stuff” – I go to his car shows to support him. We travel to shows, set up the cars, etc. However, I also get to go on my daily runs and see areas that I may not have seen if I hadn’t been there to support him.

Do you support the special person in your life? It’s so important that you both support each other in your interests. If you want to have their support – you need to support them in what their passion is.

I hear from many runners who are upset about their partners not supporting their running. However, when I ask them if they do things non-running related with their spouses – many times the answer is no. How can we expect them to support our running and to listen to us talk non-stop about running if we don’t return the favor?

Think about it – do you like to listen to someone talk about themselves all the time, but they never have the time to listen to you? Don’t be that person. Especially with the special people in your life. Give the running talk a break every once in a while.

Cool Free Running Moves

The Kick the Moon/J-Step

The Kick the Moon, sometimes known as the J-Step is one of those free running moves you can combo into loads of other moves, including the cork. The Kick the Moon involves doing a three step motion to form a letter ‘J’ – hence the name J-step. You kick your left or right leg, whichever your prefer, as high as you can and going slightly over your right or left side pushing your chest up to gain more height and the leg swing to get you round. This technique is also used for the Cork.

The Wall Flip

Sometimes known as the Wall Back Flip, this ultra cool move is basically a back flip that is mastered after you take anywhere between one and three steps up a vertical surface, such as a wall. Don’t worry if you can’t find a vertical surface, as an almost vertical one will do!

If you really want to wow your crowd, engage in the Wall Flip 360, which was created by 3 Run team founder Chase Armitage, and involves performing a full twist after stepping up the wall.

The Ariel

Another essential free running move, the Aerial is a cart wheel motion, although unlike a gymnastics cart wheel, with the Aerial, your hands can’t touch the ground. Once you’ve got the Aerial down to a fine art, you should endeavour to master the Aerial Twist, which is an Aerial performed with a 180 degree twist where you land on either both feet or just your take off foot.

With all of these cool free running moves, the more flexible you are the smoother and more flawless the moves will look and good flexibility is the core behind inspiring free running showmanship.

The Shoes

Of course to be a free running maestro you’ll need the right shoes and not just any footwear will suffice in getting moving with the fluidity and rolling over any obstacles that may get in your way. As well as having to provide us with bounce, fluidity and spring, a free runner’s shoes need to look great; after all we are making a statement.

Essential Items For Runners

The main thing that a runner needs is a good pair of running shoes. This is the one area that you don’t want to skimp. Go to a running store and have a salesperson there fit you for a pair of running shoes. He will be able to fit you and will help you choose the shoe that you need for your foot type. You want to make sure that you are wearing the correct pair of shoes that properly fit so that you will run comfortably and without injury.

Running socks are another essential. You don’t want to just pull on a pair of cotton socks. Runners need a good pair of moisture wicking socks to keep their feet dry. As you run, you feet sweat and if not wearing the proper socks – your feet will get wet and stay wet. This will cause blisters to form.

And, while we’re talking about moisture wicking materials, you also need running clothes made out of this material. They will keep you dry on your runs as you sweat. If you wear cotton shirts, they will get wet from your sweat and stay wet. This will cause you to just be uncomfortable and actually cause you to get chilled – even on a warm day. You will especially appreciate these technical fabrics as you increase your mileage. Running apparel made of moisture wicking fabrics cost a little more – but are worth every penny.

Runners also need a watch to time their runs. Now, if you are just getting started with your running program, a nice simple running watch will do. You want to be able to measure the amount of time that you are running. And, if you are doing the run/walk method, you will need to be able to know when to walk and when to run. As you increase your mileage and put in longer runs, you will probably want to invest in a GPS watch. But, a regular running watch with a chronograph is perfect to get started.

Run Efficiently

Shoulders down

This does not mean slouching your shoulders, but think about ‘pulling your shoulders away from your ears.’ Keep your shoulder blades to neutral, not too tensed or not too slouched down. This helps your arm swing and trunk rotation when you run.

Hands to your pockets

Don’t put them inside your pockets, but when you swing your arms keep them to the level where your pockets are or where your hands might slightly brush your hip. Keep your elbow at a 90 degree angle and point your hands forward. Remember that you want to move forward so you should swing your arms forward as well, not bringing your hands in front of your chest to keep your trunk from twisting too much.

Hold an egg

You can observe that a lot of runners tend to clench their fists. This small movement causes tightness around the arms and even tension on the neck and shoulders. Imagine holding eggs with each of your hands – you don’t want to break them so gently cup your hands and relax.

Land comfortably

I once went to a department store in the Philippines to look for a pair of shoes. One salesman ambushed me with his trivia to convince me to buy his shoes. He said that runners should ALWAYS land on their mid-foot. I disagree with this notion because runners have significant individual differences from one another. Most runners would be comfortable landing on their mid-foot but if you have a high arc, it’s a different story. Also in terms of technique, if you want to sprint then you’re better off landing on your toes. Some people will be more comfortable landing on their heels and then rolling their foot, as long as they have enough heel cushioning. What’s more important is your ‘stride length’ – you would not want your leg to be way ahead of you unless you are sprinting. Your feet should land directly underneath your body and as your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly bent naturally upon impact.

Running to Burn Body Fat

Ditch the Steady Cardio

Though a long running session at a slow pace has its benefits, for maximum belly fat reduction, opting for this training approach is futile and a waste of time. Instead, if you’re looking to get rid of belly fat in the shortest time possible, then interval running is the way to go. Also referred to as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT for short) in the fitness circles, this type of training is ideal for burning body fat in the shortest time span. In fact, doing running intervals burns 3 times as much fat as running at slow and steady pace, according to new research from the University of New South Wales, in Australia.

In addition, interval training boosts metabolism levels through the roof, builds muscle mass-especially core muscles-and improves speed and endurance levels like nothing else.

Interval running combines intervals of high intensity running (80-90% of your maximum cardio capacity), with low intensity jogging breaks for recovery and rejuvenation. The on/off pattern is key for burning colossal amounts of calories without risking injury or overtraining.

A 35-Minute Interval Running Workout

Here is how to proceed with an interval running session:

  • Start with a warm-up. Jog slowly for 10 minutes to loosen up your muscles and get your cardiovascular system ready for the intensity ahead. A decent warm-up improves blood flow and helps you prevent premature fatigue and injury.
  • Increase your running pace to perform your first high intensity interval. Your first high intensity interval should be at no more than 80% of your max for one full minute. Your breathing should be heavy at the end of the 1st interval.
  • Take your first recovery break for 1-full minute. Jog faster than your warm-up pace and get your breathing under control.
  • Repeat the cycle 7-8 times.
  • End the session with a cool-down. Make sure to gradually reduce your running pace into an effortless jog, breathe deeply and stretch afterwards.

The length and intensity of each interval depends mainly on your fitness levels and training goals. If the one-full minute is too much, shoot instead for 30-seconds and build on that. Trying to run in someone else shoes will only get you injured and discouraged, instead find your own sweep spot and gradually progress forward.