With gyms and studios closed and many people having more time at home these days, running has become the go-to way for many to stay fit and busy. In a world where nothing seems normal, ticking off a daily run can help you cope. Plus, it doesn't require a ton of gear and can be done safely outside (with social distancing) while getting some fresh air. Just lace up and get your sweat on!
If you've find yourself running more over the past few months, keep these six things in mind to continue to go the distance.
Wear the Right GearWhile running does require minimal equipment, having the right gear makes things much more enjoyable. Be sure to run in shoes that are just right for your foot and running style. Ditch cotton anything and invest in sweat wicking material for socks, shorts, shirts, tanks and tights. Your skin will thank you!
Don't Get a Case of the "Toos"Too much, too soon can lead to stress fractures and other injuries. Play it safe with gradually increasing one factor at a time. Don't increase speed and distance together. The last thing you want to be dealing with right now is an injury.
Check Your ShoesWith the increased weekly mileage, you might need new running shoes sooner than usual. Look out for blisters and achy feet after a run. That's usually an indicator new shoes are in order. Depending on the shoe brand, most shoes have a running life of 300 to 500 miles. Need ideas for your next pair of kicks? Check out our spring running shoe guide.
Don't Push Yourself Too HardThese are stressful times already. Don't push too hard if you are feeling pulled in other areas of your life. Your body can't tell the difference between workout stress and life stress. Keep things at a moderate intensity and most importantly, listen to your body. If you are feeling more fatigue, give yourself some extra rest days.
Be Aware of the Signs and Symptoms of OvertrainingThere's a fine line between recognizing the difference between general soreness and fatigue and overtraining.
Here are 12 warning signs from your body that you are overtraining:
- Feeling exhausted, even after getting enough sleep
- Heavy legs before, during and after runs
- Emotional highs and lows
- Appetite changes
- Consistently higher resting heart rates
- Lack of motivation for usual workouts
- Easy workouts consistently feel harder than usual
- Persistent achiness, stiffness, or pain in the muscles and/or joints (beyond the typical delayed onset muscle soreness felt after a workout)
- Frequent headaches
- Drop in athletic performance
- Not able to complete your normal workout
- Lowered immune system
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, take some extra rest days. Missing a few days of workouts won't kill your fitness levels, but it will prevent you from sliding into even deeper trouble.
Remember to Recover Properly
Recovery is just as important as the actual run. To gain strength, speed, and more, muscles grow and become stronger when they are subjected to forces that cause tiny tears in the muscle fibers. It's during recovery that the body repairs these fibers and builds new blood vessels to the stressed area.
One of your first steps post workout should be to eat. For runs over 1 hour, you have about a 30-minute window to refuel to avoid insufficient glycogen stores for your next workout. Try to aim for the recommended 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein in whatever you eat.
Foam rolling and stretching post run are an easy way to prevent soreness and to loosen up any "junk" that can add up with more mileage.
And don't forget rest days. You can still head out for a walk, bike ride or some other form of low impact exercise to make your rest day active. Just be sure to keep it super easy.
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