The days are getting longer and you’re starting to plan your 2023 training and racing calendar. As a runner, you’ve undoubtedly dealt with pain or injury before. As you begin your preparations for Shamrock Shuffle, Bloomsday, Hiawatha Trail Run, or any other activity or race, now is the time to adopt highly effective habits that will foster healthy running with more confidence and less pain. Before jumping back into training full-steam-ahead, consider these training and preparation tips.
1) Walk more: Before and after every run, incorporate a 5- to 10-minute walking warm up and cool down. This simple ‘step’ ritualizes your training, improves blood flow to the working muscles, and allows space to mentally prepare for the ensuing run.
2) Slow down: While it may seem counterintuitive, executing the majority of your training (~75-80%) at a pace where you’re able to hold a conversation will improve training consistency, allow for moderation of intensity, and reduce injury risk.
3) Rotate shoes: Now is a perfect time to reacquaint yourself with the friendly faces at Fleet Feet as rotating between two (or more) pairs of shoes during your training week has been linked to a 39 percent reduction in running-related injury.
4) Ditch the headphones: While music and podcasts can be valuable training companions, leaving them at home creates an opportunity for quiet, reflection, and mindfulness. Instead of listening to music, listen to your breathing or the sounds of spring around you.
5) Fuel up: As training volume and intensity begin to ramp up, ensure you’re properly hydrating, eating nutrient-dense meals, and promoting recovery when and where it is needed most. Speaking of which . . .
6) Go to bed: Arguably the single most important piece of recovery is sleep. If your body is unable to absorb the training you’re completing, workouts feel harder, recovery takes longer, and stress levels (i.e. circulating cortisol) increase.
7) Smile: Last but not least, smiling may be the simplest training hack that can immediately improve your mood and mindset while promoting relaxation. Besides, training is something we ‘get to’ do … so let’s enjoy it! (Joel Sattgast)