Running is an act of balance, invigorating yet exerting, liberating yet competitive. Whether you are a seasoned runner completing another half marathon, a casual jogger looking to take it to the next level, or a professional, there are always key components to making each run increasingly successful. Planning, training, the right gear, the right mindset, etc. are all extremely important in reaching that final satisfaction of completion, but what of the things you might be overlooking that your body needs?
While there are many important components that go into having a successful run, proper nutrition is one of the most important. It’s easy to fixate over how we can best reduce the risk of injury, but illness can hinder a training plan just as quickly as an injured knee. Be sure to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, at the very least, and look to get a variety of colours on your plate to ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy during a demanding training plan.
That extra boost of energy plays an important role also. The active ingredient in your morning cup of coffee is one of the most reliable endurance supplements available without additives. Caffeine prolongs the length of time you can perform at a high intensity (90 minutes or more of physical activity) and it also reduces your perception of fatigue, which means you feel as if a particular physical task is less demanding than it truly is. This in turn allows you to keep performing at maximum intensity for longer periods.
Lastly, ensure you eat enough carbs over the last 24 hours before the run so your muscles’ glycogen capacities are completely full. This is essential for longer, more intense runs so that your body has all the easy-to-use fuel it needs to perform consistently well for either a marathon or entire running season.
Hydration is important always, however, beyond the recommended daily amount, you’ll want to drink 16 ounces of water two to three hours before a run so that you start well-hydrated. Then, drink several fluid ounces right before the start of your run. Be careful and make sure you don’t drink too much water; this could dilute the number of electrolytes in your body.
You might even consider tossing ice in your water or drinking a glass of cool water before you run, as recent studies have found that runners who drank colder water ran better. Cold water helps lower the body temperature and the perceived effort that a runner has to exert, meaning that you can run longer.
The length of your run or race also can impact how you should hydrate not only the day of, but also the days leading up to it. If you’re planning to run more than 10 miles, you should make sure that you have been properly hydrated the week prior to your run. This amount depends on your body’s individual needs.
Regardless of how experienced of a runner you are, rest days and recovery times should be honored. The work and sweat you put in during tough sessions will only pay off if you give your body the chance to recover from that work. Warming down after each run and resting might seem like wasted time, especially while you’re still riding the adrenaline rush, but not doing so leads to fatigue, fatigue can lead to injury, and injury leads to weeks or months out of training.
A warm down provides a period of adjustment between exercise and rest. It’s probably the most neglected part of a training session, especially at an event, like a marathon. Adhering to a proper warm-down will improve muscle relaxation, remove waste products, reduce muscle soreness, and bring the cardiovascular system back to resting levels. Spend 10 to 15 minutes jogging, gradually reducing your speed every couple of minutes. This way you can then enjoy the festivities as well as upcoming training sessions. Once you are completely warmed down, we recommend rinsing off, if you do not have access to water right way, try Simpleaf body shower wipe made with Vitamin E and Natural Tea Tree oil to help cool off. It’s a great way to clean and sanitize after an intense sweat session.
Finally, refueling your body after a strenuous run. Refueling correctly after your run is likely the most important step in a seamless session, especially if you choose a fasted run (less than 90 minutes). Your post-run meal will aid recovery so if you do run fasted, it’s vital to eat a proper meal containing carbs for energy replacement and a good source of protein for muscle repair as soon as possible. For non-fasted runs, you should still replenish the fuel your body just used to help you cross the finish line.
We congratulate all of this year’s contestants of the Skyline Run and our thanks goes out to everyone who made it happen, including Adrenaline Shoc, Curis Functional Health, Beyond Meat, Chameleon Cold Brew, Hint, Pickle Juice, Pint Striders, Dallas-Fort Worth Running Company, Half Fanatics and Racing Systems. In a particularly difficult time, we at Simpleaf relish the freedom to get out and run whether it is to get some fresh air or hone your running techniques. We encourage you to stay mindful of personal sanitation during this time and invite you to try one of our many products including our shower wipes which you may find at the event. Let’s make this the best Skyline Run yet, Dallas!