Before You Run..02 March, 2014 0 comments
Before You Run.
Preparation is essential to ensure safety for your run and to maximise performance. Being prepared can be defined as being in a suitable mental and physical state to undertake a (usually difficult –or challenging) task – in our case, running. You need to do the right thing after a run as well, as this will also help boost recovery.
One of the key things to do before any run is warming up. If you don’t warm up, you risk pulling a muscle or damaging a tendon, or injuries which can prevent you from running. Warming up isn’t just about stretching muscles, in fact, some methods of static stretching are often discouraged before a run, because they’ve been linked to injury. Instead, dynamic stretches (involving more movement) are recommended, as they loosen muscles and can increase heart rate and body temperature, which in turn increases the efficiency of your run.
Dynamic stretching can include moving your ankle back and forth in a sat down position, raising and lowering your legs to loosen up your knees, putting weight on each of your hips separately (like slowly doing the hula hoop) and more. What’s your warm up routine? Are your stretches static or dynamic? Comment below!
Movement is essential when warming up, as this is important to maintain temperature of the body and muscles – so even if you feel warm, it’s important to warm up your muscles too. Walking is a simple yet effective way to keep moving; it is low intensity, yet prepares your body’s muscles, joints, and tendons for a run, where it will go through similar motions at a higher intensity. As well as these benefits, walking also enhances the flow of blood to the muscles needed for running.
Being well nourished is important so that you have enough energy in you to run. This is stored in your body as glucose and is released during exercise. Having enough glucose is essential for good running performance, yet should be consumed correctly within a balanced diet.
Many people cannot decide whether it’s best to eat before a run or not, particularly if it’s an early morning run. This is because you need to allow time for your body to digest the food and break it down into glucose. Everybody’s different, but typically you should allow two – 4 hours after a big meal to allow time for your food to fully digest.
However, closer towards the run, it may be advisable to eat energy boosting snacks. These snacks should be consumed in lower quantities, yet are high in carbohydrates. Ideally, they should have a high glycaemic index score. Sounds complicated – basically what this means (also known as GI) is how quickly the food can be digested by the body and broken down into glucose. So, foods which have a high GI are absorbed faster. This is ideal for us runners because the fast digestion means less strain is placed on the gut, which ultimately leads to a better run. Examples of these foods include exercise shake (or ‘Protein’ Shake), banana bread, or fruit flapjacks. Foods with a low GI are best beaten with larger meals as they release energy more slowly.
So there’s what you should eat, but there are also some foods to avoid. These include: alcohol (obviously!) and drinks with excessive caffeine, such as cola and coffee, excessively fatty foods, and foods high in fibre. Of course, energy drinks contain a lot of caffeine, so would not normally be recommended, however these have been developed to contain glucose releasing ingredients, so are fine to drink prior to your run.
We’ve covered a lot here on what to do before a run, and why it’s essential. But people don’t tend to appreciate that what we do after the run is also very important. Warming down will boost your recovery from a run, reduce the chance of injuries, and make you more ready for your next run.
Your gut instinct is to hydrate yourself, so go ahead and have some water, but your gut instinct will also be to sit down and relax – don’t do this, keep moving around as you rehydrate, otherwise your muscles will stiffen and cause aches and pains later. After 5 minutes, have a small recovery snack that contains protein and simple sugars; fruit would be ideal here. Remember to keep moving.
Within around about an hour of finishing your run, eat a meal which contains protein, and low glucose index carbohydrates. Remember, these will release energy more slowly and aid recovery. Try to avoid processed foods.
Once you feel physically recovered, it’s time to mentally recover, because remember, your mental state is just as important as your physical state. Try and relax – watch the TV, but avoid staying motionless for long periods of time, and keep hydrating yourself. Sleeping, be it a power nap, or a full night sleep, is common to recover, and words well, but be sure to go for a walk or other motion activities when you wake, up, as this will help loosen up.
In conclusion, keep in motion before a run with walks and dynamic stretches. Don’t drink too much before a run, as too much fluid may be too heavy on your stomach. After a run, meet moving and rehydrate. With snacks and meals, just remember High GI foods around an hour before the run, and low GI foods around an hour after.