The goal of this Instructable is to enhance a runner’s routine with steps to take before, during, and after a run. We will do this by providing specific tips regarding nutrition, exercise, and apparel. After reading the Instructable, the runner will know what to eat before and after a run, how to maintain proper form and technique, and be as prepared as possible with the right tools. Overall, this guide will prevent injury and optimize the reader’s physical and mental health.
Step 1: Dress for Success...
In order to be properly prepared for a run, make sure you are dressed appropriately. This means runners should select exercise apparel that is lightweight and comfortable for their bodies, as well as, appropriate for the weather. Additionally, purchasing quality running shoes is essential for maximum performance and comfort. A runner should follow these guidelines in order to be dressed for a successful run!
A. Men and women should select tops made from wicking-material.
B. Bottoms should match the weather. If the weather is cold a runner should wear lightweight jogging pants or capris; however, in warmer temperatures, the runner should opt for shorts.
C. Socks are very important to wear on a run. They will protect against receiving blisters and skin irritation while running a long distance. All runners should select socks that are soft, made from lightweight material, and fit firmly around their feet.
D. A jacket or hoodie can be worn if the runner is concerned about the weather; it should be long sleeved, easily removable, and light-weight. *For more information about a running outfit, check out this link. They provide many examples, and even links to buy the clothes!* https://runnerclick.com/best-running-apparel-revi...
E. A quality pair of running shoes should be durable, light-weight, and provide arch support and comfort to the feet. For example, the brand Asics provides running shoes that meet these requirements, and are affordable! For more information on quality running shoes, or a closer look at Asicis shoes, check out this link: https://runnerclick.com/best-running-apparel-revi...
Step 2: Fuel Up Before Your Run...
The American College of Sports Medicine says, “Adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time. Athletes should be well hydrated before exercise and drink enough fluid during and after exercise to balance fluid losses.”
Hydrating and eating the proper foods will give you enough energy to maximize your workout. Between 60-90 minutes before your run try to fuel your body with some high-carb, low-fat, low-fiber meals and snacks. (Remember that everyone is different so you may need to eat earlier, or even closer to your run, to maximize these benefits.) Ideally try to consume healthy carbohydrates like whole grain cereals, whole wheat toast, fat free yogurt, fruits and vegetables.
A banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter...or a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread. The peanut butter offers protein to fight off hunger and the banana provides potassium to fight off cramping. Whole grain bagel with teaspoon of peanut butter or honey to provide you with long lasting energy for your workout.
Animal crackers dipped in peanut butter. The animal crackers are easy to digest and, along with the peanut butter, provide enough carbs to last the duration of your run.
Whole grain waffles with a small amount of maple syrup. Eat this well before your workout. They both offer fast digesting carbs to provide an energy boost. The syrup also offers B vitamins to aid in recovery post-workout.
Step 3: Stretch Before You Go...
Stretching properly and appropriately is one of the most important steps to implement into a running routine.
Regular stretching before and after a run will decrease the likelihood of injury, increase flexibility, improve blood circulation, and relieve tension in your muscles and bones. Before a run, all stretches should be dynamic, meaning that momentum and active muscle effort are used to stretch. Here is a short video that gives a good warm-up, dynamic stretching routine:
Step 4: Stay Comfortable During Your Run...
In order to have the most successful running experience, runners should pay attention to their surroundings and their body during the run. They can do this by:
Throughout the run, glance at your shoes to make sure the laces are tied tightly; if they become untied, pause your run to tie them. This is a safety precaution that prevents the runner from falling during the run. 2. If you become too warm in your layers, pause your run and remove your jacket, or sweatshirt. This will help your body stay at a comfortable temperature. Once you remove the layer, you can tie it around your waist, so you do not misplace it or have to carry it in your hands.
Step 5: Stay Hydrated During Your Run...
In addition to paying attention to your surroundings during your run, you should also pay attention to your body to make sure it’s getting the fuel it needs.
The most important nutritional aspect during your run is hydration. Whether that’s drinking water or a sports drink to provide carbohydrates and replenish electrolytes, be sure to maintain adequate hydration levels for maximum performance. For short runs it’s unnecessary to eat during the run but for longer distances, and more vigorous workouts, try to take in 50-100 calories every 30 minutes by way of fruits, energy bars or energy chews. The advantage of the energy chews is that they’re compact and can easily fit in a pocket or a hip pack yet still provide adequate fuel for your body. Purchase Gatorade Chews on Amazon
Step 6: Keeping Pace...
In order to help you run farther distances and maintain energy, breathe with the diaphragm, which is the muscle below your ribs that helps move air in and out of the lungs.
When you breathe in, your stomach should fill with air, and when you breathe out, you should feel that air release. Breathing while running is similar to singing. Performers often place their hands on their stomachs in order to feel the air move in and out. Instead of singing or running with your chest, use your diaphragm in order to have the fullest and steadiest breath possible.
Try to keep an even pace while you are running. Time yourself using a phone or watch and keep track of how long it takes you to run a certain distance (block, half a mile, mile, etc).
Step 7: Stretch to Prevent Injuries...
Many people forget to stretch after a run because they are mentally and physically exhausted. However, a post-run stretch will keep injuries at bay and may reduce future soreness.
Unlike the dynamic stretches before a run, stretches after a run should be static, which consists of less movement and more elongation of the muscles. Here is a quick video of a cool-down static stretch routine:
Step 8: Replace Nutrients Lost During Your Run...
Now that your run is over, focus on replacing lost nutrients and helping your body recover.
Your number one priority should be replenishing fluids. Try water, or a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade to replenish electrolytes. You can then turn your attention nutrition.
After a long run, and within 45 minutes to an hour of your cool down, eat a balanced combination of carbohydrates and protein. This will help repair and replace the power supply in the muscles and help to prevent feelings of post workout starvation. Potatoes, pasta, bread, and rice are good choices for refueling muscles. Supplement those with a protein such as chicken, turkey, fish or eggs.
If you can’t prepare a meal immediately after your run, a few good options for nutrient replacement include carrots, hummus, an apple or banana with peanut butter, or a protein shake.
Step 9: Get Ready for Your Next Run...
Once the run is finished it is important to properly care for your exercise apparel and running shoes. You can provide proper care by following these steps:
A. Remove your shoes, and if they became muddy from your run, wipe them off with a damp cloth.
B. While stretching you may want to remove your jacket or sweatshirt if you did not remove it during the run. This will help you have maximum flexibility.
C. After concluding your post-workout, be sure to wash your clothes so they will ready for the next run!
Step 10: Stick With It!!
Once you have completed this cycle, it is important to incorporate and schedule it into your exercise routine. Blocking out a time in your day or week to run and maintaining this routine will help you create a habit. As you practice this routine, make sure to adjust and personalize for your own body, and be honest with yourself if you need a break or if you need to push yourself more. Good luck and happy running!