Fall is a popular time for running as lots of races and marathons pop up in an effort to take advantage of gorgeous weather. As you prepare for any endurance runs you may be doing in the greater DMV area, consider these basic tips and exercises for before, during, and after your run to help with your performance and decrease your risk of injury.
1. Warming up vs. stretching
Stretching was always seen as the best way to get ready for a long run. However, research is now showing us that the best way to improve your performance and decrease injury is to focus on the warm-up.
According to William O. Roberts, MD, in “Should I Stretch Before My Runs,” stretching is used more to increase flexibility, when “What is important for athletes is to have the functional range of motion needed to perform an activity, so functional range is more important that flexibility.” Therefore, dynamic warm-up activities are best to increase performance, instead of the standard stretching. Activities such as high knees, grapevines, and core stability exercises can help get you set for the long race.
2. Carbo Loading in the Beginning
“The best prerace breakfast consists mainly of carbohydrates, since they’re digested most rapidly and are your body’s preferred fuel source,” says Penny Wilson, Ph.D., in “Perfecting Your Pre-Race Food Strategy.”
According to Ryan, “research shows that consuming 1.5 to 1.8 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight is ideal for improving performance.” This should be done three to four hours before the race if splitting it into two smaller meals, or two hours before if eating it all in one go.
3. Refuel during the race
Walk into any running store and you will see rows full of gels, gummies, and liquid packs for quick fuel. Pamela Nisevish Bede recommends you “start taking in fuel within 30 minutes of hitting the pavement,” in How to Eat During Long Runs. All these products you find in the store are used to “… supply badly needed carbohydrate, which fuels your muscles and keeps blood sugar levels steady, and electrolytes, which help retain fluids to maintain hydration, prevent cramping, and perform a host of other functions in the body.” Therefore, for longer runs, try consuming small amounts every 15 minutes. Typically, you will need to add 30-60 grams of carbohydrates for each hour that you run over 75 minutes (Nisevich Bede).
4. Protein and carbs for recovery
In addition to getting proper hydration after a hard work-out, make sure to consume about 20 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbohydrates within 30 minutes of finishing. “Sports dietitians say protein helps speed muscle repair after hard workouts, leading to faster recovery. The key is taking the right amount at the right time, and not skimping on fluids and carbohydrates in the process,” Post-run Recovery Starts with Protein
5. Drink water to your thirst
For years it was common for runners doing long distances to think they would be under-hydrated. However, it turns out a good rule of thumb is actually to drink according to your thirst. If you sweat more, your body will crave more.
Dr. Ali Perez, DC, ART®
Associate Doctor of Chiropractic
Certified in Active Release Technique
“To be the trusted leader in enriching the health and well-being of the public, one life at a time.”