Published June 16, 2017 — Share
One of the easiest ways to stay in shape is to get your heart pumping and heartrate up by tying up your laces and going for a run. After being cooped up in the colder months, there’s nothing like ditching the treadmill for the sunny outdoors. Whether you’re winding through a park, along a ravine or on the sidewalk, running outside not only helps you get your daily dose of vitamin D, but you can’t deny that the warmth of the sun feels good after a long winter.
As an avid runner, I try to get in 5K a day early in the morning before work at least three to four days a week. However, I didn’t just wake up one day and jump into this routine. We all have our physical limits, and it’s important to be mindful of them. Pushing ourselves too hard too fast can do more harm than good.
Today, I want to share with you some tips to make the most out of your outdoor run, so you can continue to increase your endurance, speed, or whatever you’re aiming for.
Be reasonable with yourself and start small
If you rarely run but have now decided to make it a regular part of your exercise regimen, give yourself a pat on the back for making that big step. Dedication is required in making any changes to your healthy lifestyle, and running is a great start because it requires no equipment other than a quality pair of running shoes. But while the adrenaline makes you want to give it your all immediately, that’s not always the best method to lead to improvement.
Advice that everyone from new joggers to advanced runners can take is to not push yourself to the breaking point. Listen to what your body is telling you. Before running, always do a warm-up, which can include stretching, fast-walking or even a light jog before speeding up.
Also, remember that exercising isn’t a race. If you feel like you need a break at any point but aren’t finished your workout yet, slow down and walk for a few minutes before starting back up again. Alternating between running and walking will give your body the chance to slowly build up strength and endurance you may have lost over the winter. As running becomes a more regular part of your routine, decrease the amount of walking you do and increase the amount of running. Before you know it, you’ll be running for longer intervals and greater distances overall.
Getting enough fluids is one of the most important things you can do for your body overall. If you’re running for less than an hour, water will satisfy your hydration needs. If your run begins to exceed an hour or you’re sweating a lot more, you’ll need to replenish those important electrolytes you’re losing.
Coconut and maple water make great natural sports drinks, as they’re rich in electrolytes. Electrolyte powders are another option that’s becoming more popular. You can find these at your local CHFA Member health food store — click here to find one near you.
It’s also important to drink throughout the day, not just before and after a workout. Drinking eight to 10 cups of water a day is a good rule of thumb, but this number can vary depending on a number of factors, from your sex to age, whether you’re pregnant, and if you have other health issues to consider. A simple way to tell if your body is hydrated, especially if you’re a runner, is by taking a look at the colour of your urine. Clear to light yellow urine means you’re hydrated, but dark urine with a strong smell is a sign of dehydration and is your body’s way of telling you that you should be getting more liquids. Consult your health care practitioner if you often feel dehydrated, as this is something that should be addressed immediately.
You’re probably familiar with the feeling. Even though you weren’t really hungry before exercising, you feel like you could eat an entire feast after your workout. If you’re just getting back into your routine, you may start to crave carbs right after the workout. This happens because carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source, but that doesn’t mean you should load up on simple carbs like white bread and sugary snacks, especially right after having run it off.
Throughout the day, focus on complex carbs instead, like brown rice or pasta for sustained energy release, or chia seeds, which also provide protein and omega-3 fats. Chickpeas are another great energy-rich food for runners, being packed with protein for an added boost. Having adequate stores of carbs and replenishing during an extended workout have been shown to improve performance and delay fatigue.
Want more tips to help you enhance your workout? Click here to learn more about sports nutrition.
Michelle W. Book is the in-house holistic nutritionist for CHFA. As a busy professional with a young family, Michelle strives to spread the message that small changes in our everyday lives can have significant, positive effects on our health and happiness.