A Simple Guide to Running

By: David Osgathorp

At last the winter is drawing to a close, the days are getting longer and we can start stepping up our exercise routines, whether it is for that long awaited summer holiday or for a personal goal such as the marathon.

For many of us this means one thing, Running!

For those of you training for the marathon, the weekly mileage and speed training will now be mounting up as you enter the last couple of weeks leading into the big day.

For those of us just training for that ever elusive beach body running may form an important part of our regular training programme.

It can be difficult running in a major city like London. The traffic, pollution and lack of real open areas can cause problems running outside and pounding away on a treadmill just does not deliver the same feeling of achievement as running outdoors.

Here in Highgate and Hampstead we are very lucky. The Heath is an ideal place to run. The open access gets you away from the traffic and the ranging terrain can act as a great training tool for things such as hill running, interval training and sprint training.

If running is a big part of your training routine then it is important to remember a few simple things before you lace up your running shoes.

Hydration - It has been shown that 2 percentage dehydration can lead to a 30% drop in performance. This can lead to injuries and illness. When you go out running, take enough fluid to last you the entire session. It is also important to replace your fluids and electrolyte levels when you have finished your run. You can do this with sports drinks or through a simple mix of fruit juice and water e.g.one quarter orange juice, three quarter water.

Footwear - Your footwear is the single most important piece of equipment for a runner. You should ensure that your footwear is sturdy enough to protect your ankle joints, cushioned enough to limit the impact every time your foot strikes the floor and light enough to allow your feet to breath.

A simple check for your footwear is firstly the age of the trainers. Anything over six months old really needs replacing. This can be expensive but the long term benefits will be worth it. The next check is the sole of the trainers. Do they still have the same flat shaped sole as when they were bought or are there now odd shaped wedges worn into the soles of the shoes? If this is so once again it is time for a new pair of running shoes. Take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you!

Warm up and cool down - A good warm up should last around five minutes and should include simple stretches of the major muscles being used (hamstrings, quads, calves) and a gentle exercise to raise the heart rate (fast walking, slow jog). This prepares the body for the stress that you are about to place on it.

A cool down should include the same things as a warm up; Stretches for the major muscles (hamstrings, quads, calves) and a come down exercise that allows the body to return to its normal resting state (slow jog, fast walk).

You could also include a cold shower as part of your recovery process. This is a simple five minute session where you run a cold shower over your legs to help the blood flush out any of the waste products and lactic acid that has built up during the running session. This is similar to the ice baths that professional athletes use but is not as intense.

If running is a big part of your training routine then no matter how many precautions you take, you may at some time or another succumb to one of the inevitable injuries that all runners suffer from. These may include a simple muscle strain or more serious conditions such as shin splints, plantar fasciities, Achilles tendonitis or runner's knee.

Injuries are regular occurrences in runners, the constant pounding through the joints and the demand placed upon the working muscles can become too much for some participants. By taking on board some of the information in this article you will decrease the risk of injury occurrence, enjoy the activity a lot more and get the results you desire from the hard work you put in.

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