It’s almost that time again, when we’re getting ready to flip yet another calendar page and enter a brand new year. It’s a time for reflection and resolutions, and your running game shouldn’t be left out of this yearly process.
No matter how disciplined or how experienced, there are things each of us can do to run better and improve our overall health. So, what should be on your running resolutions list this year? Here are six resolutions fitness experts say all runners should consider making in 2018.
Too often runners don’t think about their breathing, and bad habits, such breathing only through the mouth happen. Effective breathing, however, can actually boost your overall running performance, says Samantha Clayton, former Olympic runner, personal trainer and senior director of Worldwide Fitness and Education at Herbalife Nutrition.
She says the best way to breathe is in through your nose and out through your mouth, so your nose hairs can capture small particles from the environment and warm up the air a little before it hits your lungs. This technique can be especially helpful when it’s cold outside.
“Practicing this breathing technique throughout the day when you are not running will help to make it become natural when you are on the run.”
Fuel Your Body
As runners, we love the calorie burn, but we also need to make sure we’re taking in enough of them to fuel our runs.
“So many runners run on empty and don’t replenish within 30 minutes which leads them to burn muscle mass instead of burning fat,” says Miriam Amselem, a holistic nutritionist. Fortunately, it’s an easy mistake to fix. Amselem suggests eating a combination of protein and carbs (for example, 1 cup of fat-free Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup of berries) 30-60 minutes before running and then 30 minutes after running to replenish. She says by doing so runners will see tremendous gains as they burn fat but hold onto their muscle mass.
Does the Shoe Fit?
If you’re running in old or uncomfortable shoes, you may want to kick off the new year with new kicks. Not just any new kicks though. Shannon Paula, a celebrity trainer and wellness coach, says most runners wear sneakers which are too foamy and thick.
“While they may add extra cushion and comfort, humans were designed with feet which were intended to move multi-dimensionally with every step, toes should be able to spread as far as possible just like our fingers. Our feet innately desire multi-faceted surfaces with various levels of sloping and terrain. Think sand, earth, rocks and crystal. This encourages more expansion in the toes and feet thus, better performance and less feet, toes, and even shoulder, neck and back pain. A shoe which provides better nerve tactility, space between the toes, and overall movement is the way to go.”
Make sure you consult a professional to get the right pair for you.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
You know you should hydrate, but are you doing it right?
“Many runners suffer from dehydration because they underestimate how much water their body needs during training,” says Meghan Kennihan, a run coach and personal trainer.
She suggests weighing yourself before and after a run and getting your bodyweight back to what it was before the run by drinking plenty of water. Also, be aware of what you’re drinking. RJ Williams, clinical operations officer, FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Center, says while sugary sports drinks are commonly used, they can also be harmful.
“The high volumes of sugar can increase systemic inflammation and at times create more thirst. Water is always a top choice, but there are some companies that provide a simple water additive that uses electrolytes to pull the water into the digestive and muscle tissues faster without the excessive caloric load and stress on the body.”
“If you think about it, running is just standing on one leg one after the other for a short period of time over a long distance. So, if you want to become a stronger runner, adding balance work into all of your strengthening exercises can help,” says Wendy Winn, PT, OCS and director of Custom Performance in New York City.
“Try doing bicep curls on one leg, or close your eyes when you are doing squats,” she says. “Both of these techniques help to strengthen your proprioception and balance.”
Cool down? What cool down? Too many runners simply hop in the car and head home after a run without properly cooling down.
“Possibly more important than a good warm up is bringing the system back down after high intensity exercise,” Williams says. “The muscle and fascial tissues are highly pliable during activity, but getting into a car or bus to ride home will lead to increased stiffness in poor postures.”
He says the cardiovascular system has been shunting blood to the muscles to oxygenate and perfuse tissues to meet metabolic demands while running. Bringing the heart rate down slowly allows for better recovery and circulation of this system and leaves less metabolic waste in the extremity tissues. Nervous system stress needs to be down regulated as well.
“A gentle cool down allows the body to chill back into a safer state to sleep easier at night allowing for better recovery,” he adds.
These are just a few tips to help get your New Year started on the right foot. What are your running resolutions for 2018? Why not start your year off with a new, customized running plan featuring the Gonser Method. Click here to learn more.