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6. Get Fueled: Fueling your new activity is very important. Timing is key. It’s a good rule of thumb to eat about 200 to 400 calories of mostly complex carbs and a little protein about 1.5 hours prior to your run. This will give your body time to digest the food and provide your body with the needed energy for your activity. Not eating or not eating enough before your run can make your run feel labored or cause your muscles to feel fatigued. Eating too soon can sometimes cause stomach issues.
Digestion usually stops or slows dramatically when you run, so if you eat just before running, then all the food will just sit there. It will go nowhere and do little to provide you with little energy. What works best for your pre-run snack will vary from runner to runner, but some foods to try include yogurt with granola, an English muffin with peanut butter, or half a peanut butter sandwich and a banana. Post-run refueling is important too. Eating a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein within 30 to 45 minutes after a run is optimal timing to provide your tired muscles with the fuel they need to rebuild quickly. Lowfat chocolate milk actually has the 4:1 ratio.
7. Get Hydrated: Being well-hydrated is just as important as being well fueled. Be sure to drink about 20 oz. of water about two hours prior to running. This will give it time to pass through your system and be voided before your run. During your run, drinking water is fine. Once you’re running more than 45 to 60 minutes, you’ll need to switch to a sports drink to help replace vital electrolytes which are minerals (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus) that play a major role in helping to maintain proper water balance in your body. Electrolytes can be lost though your perspiration. Sports drinks such as Gatorade contain these important minerals.
8. Get Warmed-Up: Before you head out on your run, be sure to warm-up your muscles with a dynamic stretch. A five-minute walk is a great way to do this. This will help decrease the chance of your muscles feeling tight during your run. Save the traditional stretch-and-hold stretches for after your run.
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9. Get In Tune With Your Body: Listen to your body. If you’re feeling something other than regular workout-related muscle soreness, don’t run. Running through the pain is never a good idea. If you’re experiencing pain along your shin, hip, IT Band or any area of the body that’s beyond normal muscle soreness, ice it, elevate it, and use your normal choice of anti-inflammatory medication and rest. When you no longer feel any pain, ease back into your running. If the pain persists, don’t let it linger. Go see your doctor.
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10. Get Rest: Rest is just as important as your workout. Rest allows your body time to rebuild and recover. When you run or do any type of exercise, you actually create little micro tears in the muscle tissue. Your body then rushes in to rebuild and repair the tears. This is the normal muscle-building process that makes you stronger. However, if you don’t take the proper rest, your body may not have time to fully repair before your next run causing you to feel sore, tired, and sluggish. When you first start your beginning running program, it’s a good idea to have at least one day of rest in between runs.
More: How to Avoid Runner Burnout
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