10 Tips to Keep You Running Strong

10 Tips to Keep You Running Strong

During this turbulent and uncertain time, heading outside for a jog is a healthy way to burn off some calories, relieve tension and anxiety, and combat cabin fever. As long as you’re running solo right now, it’s safe to do so outside. When encountering others on the roadways, trails or elsewhere, be sure to follow the CDC’s social distancing guidelines, too.

Running on Inspiration

While many races have been postponed or canceled, you may still be thinking about how to go about running your first 5K or hoping to prepare for your next marathon. No matter the distance, your level of experience or when that next race happens, these tips can help you stay inspired and on track for success:

  • Check in with your health care provider. Before you begin training, or if you’re new to running, it’s a good idea to check in with your primary care doctor or a sports medicine doctor, as he or she might have some additional tips and advice for you.
  • Choose a race (or goal). Find a race, sign up and put it on your calendar. “Deciding on a race will help you focus and stick to a running schedule,” said Dr. Matthew Hilton, a family medicine and sports medicine specialist at Holland Hospital Family Medicine – Zeeland. “And with planning and enough time for training, beginning runners can easily run a race, too.” (Even if you don’t have a race on your radar, setting a personal goal like tracking and increasing your mileage each week can keep you motivated.)
  • If the shoe fits, wear it. Before you start running, you need good shoes. Work with your local running store to ensure you find a shoe that properly fits your body and running style.
  • Prepare. Decide on a formula for training.

Here are some basic suggestions to get started:

  • Train three days per week
  • Two days a week, run or run/walk 20 to 30 minutes (or less, if you need)
  • On the weekend, work your way up to a longer run or run/walk (40 minutes to one hour)
  • Cross train; activities like biking, swimming, doing yoga or lifting weights are important to avoid overuse injuries

“Be sure to run at comfortable, conversational pace and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration,” Hilton added.

  • Take it easy. Don’t add miles too quickly. Raise your mileage by no more than 10% per week.
  • Plan. Weigh different fueling options. For example, do you need to eat a nutritional bar before you run? Will you need additional fuel during your race? Should you carry your own water? What you wear matters, too. Certain fabrics can irritate the skin, so you’ll want to experiment with various types of running clothes. Don’t try out something new on your race day.
  • Hydrate. Proper hydration is essential for optimal performance and recovery form workouts. A good starting point is 20 ounces of water one hour before and right after your workout. You should drink about half your body weight in ounces of water per day (e.g., 150 pounds = at least 75 ounces of water). Drink even more on workout days.
  • Sleep on it. During your training, and as a general rule of thumb, aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Start slow (whether in a race or just going for a jog). Don’t overdo it the first mile out. Begin slowly, settle into your stride and run at your normal training pace.
  • Stay positive. “It’s normal to have a bad or sluggish run now and then,” Dr. Hilton said. “It’s also normal to have days when you simply don’t want to run. I’ve found that almost every time I ignore that negative voice and go for that run, I’m so glad I did.”
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  • Matt Hilton, DO

    Matt Hilton, DO

    Dr. Hilton received his undergraduate degree in Nutrition Science at Purdue University. He graduated medical school at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO. He completed his family medicine residency at Metro Health Hospital in Grand Rapids. He then went on to complete a sports medicine fellowship at Metro Health Hospital.

    Outside of the office and training room he enjoys staying active with triathlon training, cooking healthy food, exploring West Michigan with his wife and two young boys and catching a concert if he ever has a chance.

    Dr. Hilton welcomes patients of all ages at Holland Hospital Family Medicine  Zeeland and Holland Hospital Sports Medicine.

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