Health 101 for Runners

The good news is it does not require a lot for a person to become a recreational runner since all you need is a good pair of running shoes and a strong desire to reach the finish line. Running is a great form of aerobic exercise. It triggers runner’s high (a general sense of well-being and fitness because of regular physical activity).

Some of the additional benefits of running include:

  • Bone development and muscle strengthening since it’s a weight-bearing exercise
  • Heart muscle and lung improvement or cardiovascular fitness
  • Weight loss and weight maintenance as running enables the body to burn plenty of calories

There are, however, some drawbacks to running in marathons as running in long distances can make your feet and muscles ache. A study on marathon runners revealed that 77 percent experience exercise-related injuries while training.

The injuries result from many factors and differ for every person. Repetitive motions, extra stress while running uphill or on an uneven terrain, a mistake in the training routines, improper shoes, or being generally flat-footed could set off running injuries.

Some of the most common include:

  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Ankle sprain
  • Blisters and chafing
  • Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS)
  • Patellar tendinitis (kneecap)
  • Plantar fasciitis (feet or sole)
  • Broken toes
  • Pulled muscles
  • Runner’s knee
  • Shin splints
  • Stress fracture

To keep your body in tip-top shape while training for a marathon, observe and follow a few of these safety suggestions.

Prepare and start at a slow pace.

Get a clean bill of health from a physician or discuss and receive advice from a trainer before starting a running program. Pace yourself and intensify your training gradually so as not to over-exert your body. Ideally, an 18-mile run (30-kilometer run) per week reduces the risk of running injuries, as per a study. Your body has to learn to adapt to the new routines first.

Acquire good running shoes.

You might be overwhelmed by the choices of footwear available for runners. Comfort should be your number one priority in picking out good shoes, no matter how technologically advanced its design is. You’ll need a few pairs to use alternately. Research shows that changing your running shoes often reduces injury risks to your feet, legs, hips, and back by as much as 39 percent.

Ensure that your shoes have sufficient padding and cushion to prevent your skin from rubbing against the shoe material and forming blisters and bunions. As an additional precaution, you can likewise keep your toes and toenails protected by wearing toe protectors for shoes.

Dress appropriately.

Cotton material will hold the moisture from your sweat and keep you wet. Instead, wear clothes made of polypropylene or nylon material that will allow heat and moisture evaporation faster. If you’re training during cold days, add another layer made of fleece material for insulation.

Plan your routes carefully.

Avoid running near busy roads so you won’t inhale the fumes from cars. Run during the early mornings or early evenings to avoid air pollution and high UV rays.
Always warm-up.

Before you hit the pavement, do dynamic stretching exercises like jumping jacks or squats to avoid pulling a muscle. You can also walk at a brisk pace to get your heart pumping so you won’t wear yourself out too quickly. Do this at the start of every training. Also, don’t forget to cool down following your run.

Include strength and endurance exercises.

Running is a form of cardio exercise but you’ll need to include strength training, such as yoga or Pilates, to sustain your workouts. Doing so will help minimize the soreness in your legs, knees, and back. Likewise, endurance exercises will help improve your ability to run as well as increase your stamina during a long-distance marathon.

-By Joe Flemming

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