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Fit to Run – How to Properly Prepare Your Body for Running

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • If you start exercising incorrectly, it can actually cause harm to your body, be it through physical injury or as damage to the heart and circulatory system, which can eventually lead to death.
  • Anyone who is at high risk of acute heart failure or disease, such as those with a history of certain types of heart disease, diabetics, patients with high blood pressure and/or those with cholesterol, should always receive a special assessment and examination before commencing an exercise routine.

 

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How should you prepare before running?

  • Running is one of the simplest forms of exercise. It is a natural, basic movement of the body in our everyday life and activities.
  • Nowadays however, due to the prevalence of technology facilitating greater convenience in our lives – whether in terms of travel, transportation of goods, access to food, etc. – many of us are lacking the opportunity to run. Thus, our overall physical condition, including our muscle structure, our joints and heart and lungs, are often weaker than they should be. Many people also suffer various diseases or disorders as a result of the body deteriorating due to a variety of other causes.
  • In these cases, if you start exercising incorrectly, it can actually cause harm to your body, be it through physical injury or as damage to the heart and circulatory system, which can eventually lead to death.
  • Therefore, if you have never exercised before, but you intend to start running, you should consult a doctor ahead of time in order to prepare and discuss the details of your exercise routine together, so that it is appropriate and in concordance with your individual needs. This will help to ensure that you exercise safely and achieve the best health results possible.

How important is one’s choice of running equipment and gear, such as running shoes and clothing?

  • For healthy running, you should wear shoes designed especially for running with a good support system to cushion and absorb the impact of running. You should opt for shoes that fit your particular foot structure, are of the correct size and feel comfortable while you run. Avoid wearing shoes that are already worn out or worn down.
  • Running clothes should be lightweight and appropriate for the weather and climate in which you will be running. In Thailand, as the weather is quite hot, you should select running clothes that are of a good, breathable fabric.

Is it necessary to warm up your body before running?

  • Warming up before a run, such as speed walking for those who are just starting out at running or light jogging for those who already run regularly, will help you gradually increase the heart rate and blood flow to the muscles involved in running. This is a healthy necessity because it reduces the chance of injury while running. Combine it with about 5-10 minutes of muscle stretches before running.
  • Cooling down after you have finished your run is just as important as your warm-up, and should be carried out in a similar manner to your warm-up routine. The benefits of a cool-down are that it gradually removes noxious waste products from the exercised muscles and helps avoid cramps and dizziness or fainting, which can result from blood pooling in the large muscles after a run.

What kinds of injuries or illnesses should keep you from running?

  • Anyone who is at high risk of acute heart failure or disease, such as those with a history of certain types of heart disease, diabetics, patients with high blood pressure and/or those with cholesterol, should always receive a special assessment and examination before commencing an exercise routine. This is known as an exercise test and is carried out by a cardiologist, who will help to ensure that the patient can exercise safely.
  • Another group of people who should not use running for exercise are those who have chronic diseases of the skeletal structure and various joints, such as the ankle, knee and hip joints, as well as those with spinal diseases. In these cases the body’s shock absorption system is abnormal and does not work as it should, which may cause increased injuries from running.

In what ways should you prepare for the run itself?

  • For those who have never run before, start calmly and slowly. Do not race with or run along with someone else. Be aware that those who can run continuously like that have been practicing already for months or even years.
  • After warming up with fast-walking and a good muscle stretch, jogging for just 2-3 minutes on your first day should be enough before you cool down. After this, the various systems in your body will gradually improve. In the days to come, you can gradually increase the length of time and speed at which you run. Your goal should be to eventually run for at least 30 minutes per day, 3-5 days a week.
  • This does not mean, however, that you must continuously run for up to 30 minutes at a time. You can split your running sessions into sets, with a minimum of 10 minutes per set. The health benefits of running this way are almost the same as running continuously for longer periods.
  • In addition, it’s important to make sure you drink water periodically throughout your run and after your run as well.

If an injury occurs during a run, should you stop running or not?

  • Generally speaking, for healthy running, if you experience a running injury, you should stop, rest, apply first aid and wait to recover from your injury before resuming your running.
  • If you experience a severe or acute injury, such as a sprained ankle, a severe fall or intense pain in the muscles or joints, you should stop running immediately, apply first aid and a cold compress, and seek medical attention from a doctor right away.
  • In cases of minimal pain during a run or a race, if you feel that you are okay to continue to the finish line, it may not be urgent that you stop running and rush to a doctor immediately. After the run, however, you should take a break from running for a while, apply correct first aid methods and see a doctor if the symptoms persist after 2-3 days.
  • In addition to injuries, other important conditions or symptoms to look out for include symptoms that may be related to heart disease, including angina (chest pain or pressure) which may involve pain in the left arm or upper neck, heart palpitations or acute irregular heartbeat, and dizziness or feeling you are about to faint while running. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should stop immediately and see a doctor as quickly as possible.

How should you care for yourself after running?

  • Runners should make sure they are eating all the recommended food groups, drink enough water and get sufficient rest. This will help to ensure the body recovers more quickly, adjusts properly and becomes stronger in order to support future exercise and running.

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