Guest Post by:
Stephanie Davey, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
MUSC Sports Medicine
So you’ve decided to run a 5K or 10K race. There are a few things to consider before you start your training. First, select a quality running shoe. Find a reputable running store to have your foot properly fitted. Many shops have treadmills and will let you run in them prior to purchasing them. The shoe should fit you and your specific foot needs.
Second, you need to decide when and how long you need to train. If you’re new to running, you should start you’re training program eight weeks prior to the 5K race. There are many training plans available online to help guide your training. Every good running program should include running, strength training, stretching, and rest. Depending on your fitness level, you can start with a run/walk program. These programs slowly increase running while decreasing the walking until you’re running the entire time. Strength training should be balanced between lower extremity, upper extremity and core exercises. A proper strength training program will not only make you stronger and faster, but it will also aid in injury prevention.
Stretching should happen both before and after your workout. Start your workout with gentle dynamic stretching to warm up your body. These stretches should not only warm your muscle, but should also start to slowly raise your heart rate. After your workout, plan on at least ten minutes of gentle cool down stretching. Give special attention to your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, and gluteus muscles. These muscles do most of the running work and are the most prone to injury.
The last part of your training program is rest. Depending on your mindset, it could be the most important part. You should have one to two non-running days built into your program. If you do two days, one of these days can be easy cross training such as cycling, the elliptical trainer, yoga, or Pilates. The second day could include some gentle stretching. Rest helps keep your body fresh and injury free.
Unfortunately, injuries are part of running. While not all are preventable, most injuries can be prevented with a proper training program. If you start to have pain, listen to your body. You can modify any program by adding cross-training or rest days. If an injury lingers, consider seeing an orthopedic doctor for a diagnosis and specific plan to rehabilitate.
Hopefully, you enjoy your training. If you don’t, find a way to modify it. That could mean finding a training partner, or finding a new location. If you normally run on a treadmill, try running outside. Running groups are popping up all over the place. These groups usually have varied interests and have runners at all levels. A group can not only make running more fun but will help hold you accountable!