Are you a runner looking for ways to stay healthy? Whether you’ve just started pounding the pavement as a new hobby or fitness regime, or whether you’re an established pro athlete, these tips will optimize your skills as a runner and help you get the most out of your workout.
Eat and Drink Smart (Not Necessarily Less)
Professional runners know that the key to staying fit, active, and healthy isn’t starving yourself. Running burns off a lot of energy, so it makes sense that you need to stock up on that energy beforehand, right? You wouldn’t take your car for a long drive with an empty tank, nor don’t do the same to your body. High-energy carbohydrates an hour or so before your run will give you the healthy boost that you need to power through without depleting your body’s resources. Try to choose carbohydrates that are low in saturated fats, and have a low level of trans fats and cholesterol. Remember that food doesn’t have any moral value: there aren’t ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, but certain foods will give you stamina for your run, and certain foods (like sugary treats) run the risk of causing a sugar crash and making you feel tired. Be sure to read around the different food groups and their effect on your body, enjoy everything within balance and moderation, and be sure to play hydrated with plenty of water each day (before and after a run).
Invest in a Physical Therapist
You should definitely invest in the services of a skilled physical therapist near you to address any aches or pains you may experience. Even if you feel completely fine, a physical therapist can help keep you improve your flexibility while preventing possible discomfort before it even happens, and generally provide a reassuring professional opinion about your progress.
Diversify Your Exercise Routine
Running is very good for you, but can put stress on joints like your knees. To counteract this and stay in top condition, make sure you participate in a varied exercise routine. If you run twice a week, why not consider going swimming, or joining a Zumba class? Alternating between the parts of your body that you’re working out (especially with high-intensity cardio) will prevent repetitive stress injuries, strains, and sore muscles. It will also keep you entertained and less likely to get bored of your exercise regime and give up – get creative, and mix things up! And remember it’s okay to take gentler days with a lower intensity, on which you take a relaxing stroll or go through a Pilates sequence.
Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene
Good sleep is essential to our mental and physical well-being. It might surprise you that even runners, and others who are doing intense physical work throughout the day, sometimes have insomnia or interrupted sleep patterns, due to poor sleep hygiene. To ensure you have a full night of rest, make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, clean, and comfortable enough to help you drift off. It also helps to set yourself a specific time to go to sleep and get up, and not vary it by more than an hour each day. Consistency is key!
If you’re a runner and you want to bring your a-game, why not implement the above tips and tricks into your routine? The compound effect will make a huge difference when it comes to lowering your heart rate and improving your overall times and pace.