10 Rules for Effective Running
Mike Lemus – USAT Level 1 Coach
1. Find Proper Footwear – This can be one of the most frustrating and time-consuming aspects of running before you even take your first step. We all have slightly different bio-mechanics and, luckily, modern running shoes do an amazing role of accommodating them. Develop a relationship with your local running store and have them fit a shoe to your body type and running form. Your feet and legs will thank you.
2. Make Your Warm-up Count – The goal of your warm-up should be to loosen up your muscles in a low stress manner and prepare them for the movements that they will be doing during the workout. Doing dynamic stretching before your run will facilitate the range of motion your body will undergo during the main run. Five to ten minutes of this will save your legs the shock of going straight into a sustained workout effort from a sedentary state. It also serves to increase the amount of quality workout time you will receive when you start with warm muscles as opposed to cold, tight ones.
3. Know Your Workout Before You Start – If you can have a predetermined workout planned before you begin running, you should do so. Knowing the time, distance, and/or speed you will be running before you begin will allow you to concentrate on the goal of the workout.
4. Keep Form In Mind – Running form and efficiency are things that everyone can improve upon. These are the chief methods by which runners gain speed and endurance. It’s important then to actively think about them during your workout. Many runners tend to “zone out” during their workouts via music or their own wandering thoughts. As a result, you may lose focus on implementing improvement points that may increase performance during a workout.
5. It’s Not A Race (Yet) – Many of us run in groups or share a track when we have our speed workouts. Often, this will fire up our competitive sides and make us want to keep pace with or beat that person that’s just in front of us. As tempting as that may be, there is a time and place for it. Remember, you are doing YOUR workout and they are doing theirs. Don’t risk being gassed on the rest of your intervals because your pride got in the way. Run your pace and run it consistently. The speed will come.
6. Stay Hydrated – The quality of your sessions can only go as long as you can so replacing fluids that you’ve lost via sweat is of utmost importance, especially as your sessions increase in volume. Bring an appropriate amount of water/electrolyte drink with you for your workouts to avoid dehydration and bonking.
7. Be Safe – Running outdoors inherently has risks whether it be traffic, terrain, other runners, or wildlife. Always make yourself as visible as possible and be mindful of your surroundings. If this means you have to wear a funny headlamp and reflective vest at night, do it.
8. Make Your Cooldown Count – Similar to your warm-up, you should cool down properly after a run session. This could entail 5-10 minutes of walking and shaking out your legs as well as stretching. If you do anything after a run, make sure it’s stretching. Doing so will increase the quality and reduce the time of your recovery for the next session.
9. Recover Safely – Along with stretching, addressing any sore muscles after a workout can cut down on your recovery time and reduce the chance of an overuse injury. Using a foam roller on the affected muscles or getting a massage are two ways to accomplish this. Effectively time your run workouts over the course of a training period to allow yourself adequate recovery time between sessions.
10. Evaluate Your Workout – Whenever you complete a workout, you should ask yourself how you think you did. Was the goal of the workout achieved? How did your body feel during the session? What did I gain from this session that I can bring forward to the rest of my training? This mental exercise may help you to find ways to improve your training in ways you never realized before.