You've penciled in a run and know how many miles you want to do, but have you given thought to how you'll prepare? Everyone has their own unique non-negotiables (pre-run coffee for me!), but there are a few universal things all runners should consider. Devising your exact pre-run routine will depend on a few factors, such as the length of your workout and the weather, but you can use the following tips as a general guide. Tailor it to your own preferences and get ready to run!
For Morning Miles
Many runners hit the roads before the day truly begins, so your pre-run routine will start the night before. If you're setting the alarm early, make sure to top off your tank (a.k.a. glycogen stores) before bed with a carbohydrate-rich snack like cereal and milk. Set your alarm, program the coffee pot and lie out everything you plan to use during the run (clothes, shoes, GPS watch, fuel, etc.). Getting organized the night before will make it so much easier to operate on autopilot and get out the door, even if you're not quite awake.
Once you're up, most runners do well with a bit of a ritual. For me, it's half a cup of coffee, a few bites of banana (or more depending on how long I'm running) and a stop in the bathroom. Other runners prefer to simply brush their teeth and get out the door. It all depends on how early you set your alarm and how much "waking up" you need before you start running.
Regardless of whether you hop out of bed and hit the roads or need two cups of coffee to function, it's a good idea to ease into a morning run. Consider making time for a few minutes of foam rolling or dynamic stretching before you hit the pavement.
If You Have a Mid-Day Jaunt Planned
Whether you run during your lunch break or just like to sleep in, mid-day runs can be a little trickier to plan. The most important thing is to make sure you're well fueled. Eat a balanced breakfast a few hours before your workout (think something like a banana with toast and peanut butter) and think about a small snack about 60 to 90 minutes before you start running.
If you'll be running from your office (#LunchRun), make sure you plan out what you'll need to change into and how you'll clean up afterward. And of course, you'll need something to eat at your desk if you decide to run during your lunch break. Planning out these little details will help you enjoy your miles more and feel refreshed and energized (not stinky and hungry!) for the remainder of the day.
When You're an Evening Runner
Running in the late afternoon or evening can be a great way to relieve stress, but it can also take a bit more planning. When it comes to food, focus on easily digestible carbohydrates at lunch (like a turkey sandwich and a baked sweet potato), and try to avoid overly fatty or fibrous foods. The last thing you want is a gut bomb during your evening run.
Some runners find themselves dragging, mentally and physically, by 5 p.m., so make a plan for how you'll pump yourself up. Personally, I like to sip a bit of iced tea, have a few graham crackers and listen to a running podcast for a few minutes to get my head in the game. If you're worried about life or work (or laziness) interrupting your evening workout, consider making plans with a running buddy. Having someone depending on you will make you less likely to bail!
Whatever time of day you decide to log your miles, give a little forethought to nutrition, gear and a good warm up. With the basics taken care of, you'll be well on your way to a successful run.
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