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10 Important Steps for Runners

Whether youíre a beginner or a marathon veteran, itís never too late to learn more about the worldís oldest form of fitness and its certain rules.

1. Set goals

Goals are extremely important to keep you motivated; if you donít know where youíre going, how will you know when you get there? Think in terms of benefits Ė whatever your reason. Running will make you healthier (meaning slimmer, with improved heart health and reduced cholesterol), your stress levels will likely ease, and you may find solitude Ė that precious time for yourself. Whether itís to lose half a stone or run a marathon, keep clear goals in mind. Make short-term and long-term goals, but be realistic. Setting unachievable targets for yourself is tantamount to setting yourself up to fail, and youíll be more likely to feel disheartened and give up.

2. Eat right

You wouldnít run a car on empty, so donít make your body. Make sure you start your run fully fuelled and hydrated. Stay off the caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and cola. Water, fruit/herbal teas or juices are a better choice. People who exercise regularly should base their meals around carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and potatoes, but go for the nutritionally superior Ďbrowní or wholemeal variety. The body needs glycogen during running, and this comes from carbs. So if youíre trying to lose weight and on a low carb diet, be prepared to feel too tired and lethargic to run.

3. Warm up

Stretching the muscles in preparation for what youíre about to put them through is one of the most important principles of good training. People who donít warm up before a run are much more prone to injury and Ďtime offí. Your body needs to warm itself up for about 15 minutes before the muscles are ready for the exertion of running.

4. Help your knees

Donít train too hard too soon. If you do, you will increase your risk of injury or plain, simple fatigue. Choose your running surface with care. Grass seems to be the best option as itís low impact. Concrete surfaces are essentially crushed rock and offer no cushioning from the impact of running. Many runners donít have the option but to run on pavements, but make sure you help keep your knee joints strong by taking an Omega-3 and Glucosamine supplement from Igennus Active Nutrition (for example Omegaflex, available at ).

5. Stay hydrated

Even if youíre not thirsty, itís important to keep drinking; if you wait until you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. If your hydration level drops by five per cent, your performance may go down. Sports drinks are not necessary unless you are planning to run for an hour or more, but whatever you drink make sure itís a couple of sips at least every 15 minutes.

6. Stretch

Running causes the leg muscles to shorten, so it is important to end the training session with a 10 minute cool down. Stretching muscles will gently promote flexibility and help to prevent twists and sprains. Remember to stretch all the main muscle groups, most notably the legs, arms and back. Many runners also practise yoga, as the slow movements help to lengthen the muscles shortened by running.

7. Chill out in a bath

Many people like to soak in a hot bath after a strenuous running session as the heat relaxes the muscles. Wrong. A hot bath can actually increase muscle stiffness. Cold bath reduces swelling and tissue damage. It also helps to flush out the toxic lactic acid that forms during exercise. To get the benefits, soak for a minimum of 5 minutes. Itís important to wrap up warm and rest for a few minutes afterwards, as the body needs to recover from the shock of cold water.

8. Eat properly

Eat a normal meal containing a variety of complex carbohydrates and protein after your workout. Aim to eat within two hours of running so that any carbohydrate is used to refill stores of glycogen Ė a type of starch, stored in the liver as a source of energy. Stay off the chocolate, cakes, crisps etc. It is really easy to reward yourself with these foods but you could easily eat more calories than you burnt during the run itself.

9. Keep a training log

Whether itís a notepad or a spreadsheet on excel, keep a record of your run. How will you know youíre improving if you canít remember how long it took you to run 5 miles last month? By recording some details of your every run, youíll be able to see your progress over the weeks, months and even years.

10. Rest

Your body needs time to recover from the previous training session before you put it through its paces again. Itís important to allow a dayís rest in between runs. If you do not allow for recovery time, you will be more prone to injury, and may need to take time off; youíll lose less precious running time by simply heeding this advice.

Author Info:
Dr Nina Bailey is a nutritional scientist whose efforts are concentrated within the role of dietary health and nutritional intervention in disease, with particular emphasis being placed upon the role of essential fatty acids in specific conditions. For more information on Dr Nina Bailey, please visit, and for nutrition and training guidelines and additional information concerning how essential fatty acids could help you , go

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