When choosing a pair of shoes that we hope will enable us to run a certain distance, most runners will begin to ask themselves some other questions. These questions may be related to injury prevention, improving performance, specific running techniques, as well as the best way to care for your body both pre- and post-run. Let’s have a look at the most common questions asked by runners.
Those new to running usually start off with high levels of enthusiasm that may drop as soon as they start to run and feel aches in their knees or ankles, leading them to eventually hanging up those brand new running shoes.
If you are worried about knee damage, it is advised that you take shorter steps over short distances, while also being careful not to increase your mileage or speed too quickly.
Each running injury will vary greatly from person to person, while the injured area will also have an effect on the length of time required to make a full recovery. Additionally, some runners will rush back from an injury too quickly. This can result in more severe injuries occurring that do not easily go away, however long someone may rest. For this reason, if you do suffer an injury, it is best to rest until the symptoms of the injury are completely healed. You may even want to consult a doctor before returning to your run training.
Even when not injured, runners should always have a period of recovery to allow the body to repair any damaged cells and increase muscle strength.
If someone suffers from health problems or congenital conditions, they should consult their doctor in order to help keep the disorder at a safe level and to be certain that they will not be at any danger from running. When running a certain distance or wishing to increase distance or speed, runners should pay close attention to how their body responds, including whether or not any irregularities arise. Furthermore, any essential medication should be carried along on all runs in case of emergency.
The simplest way to assess your fatigue is to try and hold a conversation while running. When running at a comfortable pace, you should be able to speak and run at the same time. This is a form of strength and development assessment which can be fun to undertake while running, being sure to take notice of your improved breathing a short while after you’ve begun practicing talk tests. If you are able to hold a conversation, speaking in full sentences while you run at a steady pace, this shows that your fitness is improving.
The brand of shoe has almost no effect on your running speed whatsoever, especially with regard to the most famous brands which are produced to suit the individual requirements of each user. This means they may be worn by a wide range of people, from new runners, to those hoping to win competitive races. Therefore, choosing the right shoe for you depends on your running style and foot shape. Being sure to find the correct size is also of huge importance as this will reduce impact and prevent injuries.
Many runners will probably feel that their legs are quite strong and defined in a muscular sense, so why do many people suggest weight training in addition to running? While running does indeed strengthen the leg muscles, runners who do not undertake regular weight training will tend to feel fatigue in their buttock and hip muscles, which is a sign that the core and lower core muscles are not strong enough, which also increases injury risk. Therefore, when building strength in your leg muscles, you should also be building strength in your core and lower core muscles.
If your aim is to lose weight, you should not be running too quickly, meaning that the intensity of your runs should remain at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. You can work out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220, or by using devices designed to provide you with heart rate information. Alternatively, you could train according to your levels of fatigue, meaning that you analyze how much of a conversation you can hold while running. To burn fat effectively, you should be running for 30 minutes or more, 3-5 times per week. However, these groups of runners should also be thinking about their diet and weight training to strengthen muscles effectively in a way that also burns fat at a fast rate.
Running will firm up the muscles in your legs. As your muscles become stronger, this may make you feel like your legs are also getting bigger. That being said, with regard to women who are worried about this issue, it should be understood that whichever way you decide to exercise your muscles, actually making those muscles bigger is not that simple at all. Firmer muscles are not necessarily bigger muscles!
Drinking too much water immediately before an exercise session may lead to a stitch as the liquid has not had enough time to reach the lower digestive system. However, avoiding water also carries its own risks. Hence, runners should be taking on liquids 30 minutes prior to exercise, in amounts of about 2-4 deciliters per time. Additionally, water should be sipped regularly throughout a longer run, or during exercise that takes place outside in the heat whereby profuse perspiration may increase the risk of dehydration, which is a particularly dangerous condition.
A fun run is usually five kilometers and, as the name suggests, a chance to enjoy yourself while starting out on your running journey in a way that builds familiarity with running. This is also a distance at which you can test your strength and endurance. Nevertheless, some people should merely aim to finish the race in order to build confidence and inspire themselves onto bigger, better things.
Mini marathons tend to take place over 10 kilometers and once you have overcome your fear of running with a fun run, making the step up to a 10 kilometers will not be as difficult as you may have once thought. Nonetheless, regular training is necessary for this distance and various other aspects, including your health, diet, hydration and recovery periods, should also be take into account.
A 21-kilometer race is referred to as a half marathon – a distance that requires serious training, both mentally and physically. Running 21 kilometers means that most new runners will be running for at least two hours. With this in mind, before you apply for a half marathon, you must not forget to organize a professional-style training plan in order to prevent injury.
A full marathon takes place over a distance of 42 kilometers. The official distance is actually 42.195 kilometers. Endurance training is essential before you undertake the huge task of your first marathon, which many professional runners refer to as their own personal battle. A marathon is a serious physical and mental test, so don’t be surprised if you start to question what you are doing while out on the course. All you can do is keep running and see what answer awaits you at the finish line.
M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, 2007.