- Before we start any form of running training, we must first ensure that our body and mind are prepared. This helps prevent running-related injuries.
- Identifying your maximum heart rate will provide you with a clear individual picture of your exercise capabilities. It also helps prevent overtraining, which can be dangerous.
- You should be drinking around 200-400 ml of water about 30 minutes before running or exercising. Additionally, liquids should also be taken on in small sips while exercising to avoid dehydration.
As we enter the cool season and the weather becomes a lot more comfortable in Thailand, the number of marathons organized also increases. You’ll also notice more running enthusiasts eagerly train for their races. They are used to this and seem to know what they are doing. However, what about some of us who are new to running? What should we be doing to prepare ourselves for an upcoming race?
Build a firm fitness foundation
- Warm-up: Before exercising, include 10-15 minutes of dynamic stretches, such as running with high knees and sidestep jogging. You could also add 10-15 minutes of low intensity jogging. This helps your muscles warm up. Consequently, it prepares both the muscles and vital organs to support your body during exercise. Moreover, the stretching routine will ensure that your muscles are not strained during a workout, thereby preventing exercise-related injuries.
- Identify your exercise capabilities: Find out your maximum heart rate. This ensures you exercise at the correct intensity, reducing the risk of overtraining. The easiest way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to simply subtract your age from 220. For example, a 30-year-old person would be able to endure a maximum heart rate of 190 beats per minute (BPM) for a certain amount of time.
- Train to increase endurance: Generally, this can be increased by managing your heart rate so that it falls within 60-70% of its maximum while running. This means that you can still breathe comfortably and blood is circulated to the muscles efficiently, thereby increasing your endurance. Practice this for 15-30 minutes.
- Cool down: Static stretching exercises help cool down. Avoid stretches that rely on constant muscle movements. Spend as much time cooling down as you do, warming up. This helps the heart rate to gradually decrease until you are able to breathe comfortably again. Hold each stretch for at least 10-20 seconds to make sure the muscle cells are effectively stretched.
- Give your body time to recover: Often this is overlooked, hence becomes a major cause of injury. Give your body enough time to repair damaged cells and recover. This will simultaneously help strengthen muscles. Get enough sleep, eat a healthy, balanced diet, and drink sufficient amounts of water to speed up the recovery process.
When training for an event, have a clear, outlined training plan in place. Not only will this prepare your body for the race, but the regularity of such a plan will also make it easier to achieve your objectives.
- Run 3-4 times a week, taking days off in-between each session. The training should include one long run per week to increase efficiency and endurance.
- On the days you are not running, you can alternatively between rest days and cross-training. This means that you get sufficient amounts of rest as well as strength training through various other forms of exercise, such as swimming, cycling or yoga.
A healthy diet is more than half the battle
Eat a healthy diet consisting of food that provides you with sufficient energy. Additionally, drink enough water 30-60 minutes before training. Both of these will help you have enough energy to exercise, while also effectively reduce stress and muscle fatigue.
- Water: Drink at least 1-2 liters of water a day and consume around 200-400 ml of water about 30 minutes before you exercise. This is especially important when training at high intensity. Moreover, try to sip small amounts of water while you exercise to avoid dehydration.
- Yogurt: These contain essential proteins and amino acids. Choose naturally-flavored yoghurts, and be careful to avoid overconsumption.
- Fruit: Avoid those which are overly sweet. Berries are particularly beneficial due to the high levels of vitamin C it contains. They keep you feeling refreshed as well as reduce fatigue. Bananas are also a great choice. They provide energy as well as potassium, a mineral which can reduce muscle tightness.
Running alongside weight training: The perfect fitness combination
We recommend that you combine regular weight training alongside your run training to increase muscle mass and strength. Cardio or run training should make up the main body of your training plan, while weight training should be supplementary. You may even train in both formats on the same day. Just make sure that you give your muscles enough time to recover in-between sessions.
Whether your goal is to run a half or full marathon, training and preparing your body is of the utmost importance. It prepares you physically and mentally for the race, and reduces the risk of injury. With these key points in mind, all your races can be relaxing, fun and inspiring. Afterall, no event, if done rightly, is too great a challenge!
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