Sometime the SIMPLEST advice for runners is the best…
Consuming water is vital.
And lots of it and you should do it little and often. Don’t make the same mistake as many people do and think that it’s ok just to stop off at the garage on the morning of the race and just buy a few bottles of water and think that it will help you.
That’s not how it works. You need the water in your system as of a few days before to be really correct. Don’t drink water in big volumes, you need some sleep the night before any “fun run” and the last thing you want is to be up and down to the toilet all night.
Same is true in the morning, although as you get closer to the start, maybe an hour or so before the race, switch to isotonic drinks. But definitely not the caffeine style energy drinks. If you WANT muscle cramps and early fatigue, then drink energy drinks. It’s the fastest way to achieve that. If not, water and isotonics.
Next, your warm up.
You might be thinking how do you warm up for a run? Because isn’t it true that to warm up you usually go for a jog? Correct. And in this instance what you’ll need to do is to jog on the spot for 6-7 minutes so that you’re a little out of breath. After that, you’re good to begin stretching.
But when it comes to stretching, don’t find the nearest metal railings and hold your hamstring or calf muscles in a “static” stretch against one.
You should be stretching on the move. To do anything else is dangerous for the muscles and to be honest, you’d be better off doing no stretching at all that to just be standing there and holding muscles in a stretched position.
Why? Just doesn’t replicate what you’re about to go ahead and do. How many times in a race will you need to stand there and stretch? But, how many times will you legs kick through to propel you forward whilst you’re running? A LOT… because that is running and so what you need to do is replicate is as much as possible.
What to eat before a run?
Well the night before, things like pasta, chicken, chilli and rice, low fat lasagna, boiled potatoes. They are all the types of things that you should be cooking for your self to make sure you’ve got plenty of energy in the form of “carbs”. In the morning, scrambled eggs or porridge will be perfect and maybe take a banana or two with you for the start line.
It’s too late to switch your trainers at this point too.
Don’t rush out and buy new ones immediately before any run or race. That’s the last thing you need as blisters are guaranteed and more aches and pains in your feet that you should NOT be coping with, are sure to come if you do.
What to do at the end of a race?
Cool down properly. Finish with the traditional “static” stretching (that’s the type most people get wrong and do at the start of a race) and a 10 minute ice bath, and you will feel much better for it the next day. If not, say hello to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning aches.
Written by Paul Gough and published in the Paul’s weekly fitness column in The Northern Echo Newspaper, summer 2014.
More tips for runners are waiting here: www.paulgoughphysio.com/sports-injury
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