With leaves falling from the trees and crisp, cool air, fall is an ideal time for running outdoors. Whether you’re getting into running, getting back into running, or already a runner, being knowledgeable about the sport is crucial to being a safe and successful runner. Preventing injury and maximizing your workouts will put you on your way to a lifetime of happy running. As with any goal-oriented aspect of students’ lives, approaching running with knowledge and tools to succeed is the key to improving as an athlete and reaching your goals, whether it’s a mile or a marathon.
PACE Only the runner knows what pace is best for him or her. Starting a run too fast tires you out quickly. Running with a buddy can help you keep up a steady pace and it is good to have moral support. Don’t get discouraged if you’re running with someone who is faster than you-every runner is different and whatever pace you feel comfortable at is a good pace. Also, keep your goals in mind. If speed is your main goal, look up a training plan or ask a fitness professional what sorts of workouts will lead to faster times. However, if distance is your goal, you’ll want to train in a different way, and pacing yourself is crucial to hitting your miles goals.
COURSE Where you run makes a big difference in your workout. The surface you are running on, the incline of the ground, and the surroundings impact how challenging the workout is. If you want to have hills as a part of your run, then look for a course with varied incline. Along with making the run harder, incline helps to tone your leg muscles. If you’re looking for something easier, a track is always a good place to start. While the scenery isn’t the most interesting, tracks are flatter and softer than pavement. It also is fairly easy to keep track of distance on a track: each lap on a standard one is a quarter mile. Running on pavement or a track is a personal preference and there are pros and cons of each. Don’t forget that you can work on your running skills in the gym, also. Treadmills are extremely useful tools for runners. Make sure to add some incline and vary your speed to get the most out of a treadmill workout.
NUTRITION A successful run is a well-fueled run. Just as a car won’t work properly on the wrong gasoline, your body won’t run its best without the right nutrition. Running is physically taxing, and eating nutritiously prior to and following your run will help you maximize on your workout. This article from The Starting Line has some easy and useful nutrition advice about topics including staying hydrated and shopping for healthy foods.
SAFETY Outdoor workouts have plenty of benefits, but also pose different safety concerns than indoor workouts. If you plan on running outside, make sure you do so during daylight hours. If you run at night, bright clothing can help you be visible to drivers. Vehicles pose a risk for runners during the day also, so be aware of your surroundings, look both ways before crossing the street, and cross at designated crosswalks when possible. There is also the risk of falling, so always keep an eye on where you’re running and have proper footwear. Also, it is smart to stay in fairly populated areas in case you are to need assistance. Running is a rewarding form of exercise that millions of people love, and is safe as long as you take precautions.
STRETCHING It is important to stretch prior to running as well as after. This Runner’s World article on Dynamic Stretching explains a series of exercises to do before your run. Stretching is often overlooked, but is a crucial aspect of preventing injury and being a successful runner. As for cool-down stretches, check out this article about what to do following a run.
Join the University Recreation Run Club, which meets outside the Recreation Center on Monday evenings at 5:30. There’s the option of a 1-2 mile loop as well as a 3-5 mile loop, both of which are led by knowledgeable staff members who can help you along your running journey. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, UREC is here to help you succeed.
Run with The Pack,