Running season is nearly upon us, and whether you are planning on completing a 5km or a half marathon, it’s always good to be prepared. Here are ultra-runner and expert Andrew Pap’s top tips for helping you prepare for your first event.
1. Know Your Course
No one likes to get blindsided by an unwanted hurdle when they’re mid-run, so it’s always a good idea to do a little research before you get to the course. Speak to someone who has done the event before, or Google search to find out if there are any surprise hills, uneven terrain, mud or sand that you may have to run on. The last thing you need is a massive hill in the last kilometre of your run that you were not expecting and were not prepared for!
2. Build Up Your Kilometres Gradually
I know that a lot of people show up to the shorter distance events having not prepared at all, but for those of you who want to be responsible, here is a tip for your prep: just because you’ve decided to run a certain distance does not mean that you need to run that distance in every training session – especially in the first weeks!
When training for a running event, particularly if it’s a half marathon or more, give yourself a minimum three-month lead-time so you can gradually build up you kilometres. This also gives you time to focus on specific strength training in the gym, improving joint stability, practicing nutrition/supplementation and seeing how your body responds to running (blisters, friction, what muscles get tight etc). Pushing yourself too far in the initial weeks – particularly if your body is not ready for the amount of volume yet – will just leave you more susceptible to injury.
Regardless of whether you’re creating your own training program, or getting a coach to assist you, make sure you have several intensities with your weekly schedule. Include interval sprint sessions/Fartlek training, hill repeats and one longer day to condition the legs/mind/body for types of stimuli.
3. Spend Some Time in the Weights Room
If you’re one of the many people who love the weights room, the good news is that run specific strength training is great for runners! Being smart and strengthening the specifics will improve performance..
For the lower body, some exercises that you should consider include front and back squats, regular/one legged dead lifts, kettlebell swings, lunges, step ups and box jumps. Try to train your legs in a unilateral fashion – meaning one leg at a time – as that’s exactly how running works. It will allow you to make those muscles stronger as well as pick up on any muscle imbalances or weaknesses.
4. Look The Part
We all love an excuse to shop and – with running particularly – I am a huge fan of compression. It reduces my soreness post run/workout and therefore I don’t have to take two days off to recover, which is very important for me.
SKINS have just launched the new DNAmic range, which features great colours and prints paired with their revolutionary Dynamic Gradient Compression. Basically that means you can look good while still enjoying all of the benefits of compression.
5. Get Your Nutrition Sorted
Regardless of whether you’re running 5km or a marathon, this is key, as the last thing you want is an upset stomach, or fatigue on race day. If this element of your preparation is not on point, you risk becoming dehydrated mid-race, fluctuations in your energy levels or cramps – and this all affects your mental game too.
You want to make sure that you maintain consistent energy levels throughout the run, so the types of food you consume both on the day and in the lead up to the event are very important. If you want to experiment with different foods and supplements, do it in the months leading into the event – don’t change your diet and supplements on race day. Your stomach may not agree mid race!
I tend to have a water bladder with me when I run and I add BioCeuticals Ultra Muscleze and IsoWhey Sports Eletrolyte Formula to my water as it helps with hydration and cramp prevention.
6. Make Sure You Recover
I cannot stress enough how important recovery is. Ignoring it can decrease your performance, potentially leading to injury or, even worse, adrenal issues.
Some of my recovery techniques include:
- Spending time using a foam roller, trigger balls, micro bands and stretching bands to help roll out any tightness, build strength in smaller stability muscles and just stretch it all out.
- See a physio or massage therapist.
- Training in my SKINS compression tights to promote blood flow, support my muscles and boost the recovery process from the get-go.
- Sleeping in my SKINS on the nights I’m very sore. I rub the BioCeuticals magnesium cream on my legs first which helps even more.
- I try to do two yoga sessions per week, because for everything you take from your body, you need to give back to your body.
Good luck with your first run!
Andrew Pap is a SKINS athlete and the owner of Battle Fit Australia. Check out the type of training he does to stay focused on his 2016 goals. [In the video he is wearing the new SKINS DNAmic range].