I hope fall is treating you well. I’m gearing up and getting ready for the half marathon training program I’m going to be offering starting in late November. I’m super excited to help folks get ready for the Oakland half marathon; it’s one of my favorite races! I love the energy of the city, running through many different neighborhoods of Oakland, and the way so many people come out to cheer. This is the 4th year of the running festival, and it just keeps getting better each time.
Whether you’re training for an event, or setting out to go running for the first time, here are some tips to help you meet your running goals smoothly and effectively.
Build up gradually and consistently
Running is hard on the body! Many people are daunted to run because they experience pain in their knees or soreness. Some of this is inevitable. However, many folks make the mistake of trying to do too much too soon. Start with running and walking intervals (run 1 minute, walk 1 minute) and work your way up gradually. When this begins to feel easy, you can decrease the time of the walk interval by 15 seconds and increase the run interval by 15 sec.
The second part is consistency! Many people run, and then they hurt, and then they don’t run again for a long time. Sound familiar? Your body needs to get used to the increased and particular demands of running. Being consistent about running will allow your body to build up the muscles and stamina gradually, which will decrease your risk of injury in the long run. Try running at a slow pace (or doing run/walk intervals) for a short period of time 3 days a week. Eventually, you can increase your distance or pace. (But, don’t try to increase distance and pace at the same time! Pick one or the other)
Train with intervals
No matter what your experience with running, interval training can expand your capacity greatly. Interval training is when you push yourself to go really hard for a short bout of time and then back off; it is a short, high intensity effort that is repeated with breaks of lower intensity in between (aka, active recovery).
Some sample interval workouts include:
– Warm up for 5 min. Run 1 minute, walk 1 minute. Repeat 10 times. Cool down
– Warm up. Jog 2 minutes, Run fast 1 minute. Repeat 10 times. Cool Down.
– Warm up. Run 2 minutes, sprint 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times, cool down.
There are endless permutations. You can look at running websites on the internet, or contact me, to help you find an interval workout that is best suited for you.
Intervals help build your muscles’ and heart’s capacity for exercise by challenging them to go harder than they normally would in short bouts.
Take rest days
Rest days are essential for your body to recover and build up muscle strength. If you are a new runner, you might find that running every other day is good for you. If you are more experienced, you might find that you can run 4 or 5 days a week. Every body is different. Cross training such as cycling, dancing, or walking can be a great way to stay aerobically active while giving your running muscles a break.
Find a fueling plan that works for you
When you’re running, you’re literally shaking your guts around as you move. Our stomachs can get very sensitive when we run. I like to eat before I run and allow about an hour to digest my food before hitting the pavement. I’ve learned through trial and error which foods are good running foods, and which are more likely to lead to stomach cramps. Every body is different, but it’s important to find what works for you. Keep a food log of what you ate (or didn’t eat) before and after running, and how your body felt. Experiment, too, with post-run fueling. Many studies show that eating something sweet and high in protein after a long distance run can aid in muscle recovery. (Chocolate milk is a favorite among many runners)
Every body is different, and each day is different. Through developing a routine with running and staying attuned to how your body feels, you will figure out what works best for you.