Day 246 – running

I’m cheating a little bit. Today is not a “project” or recipe, but after doing a nice 5K yesterday, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips for running and getting in shape for a 5K/10K/etc etc.

First, let me say that this gal would much rather sit on the couch eating dark chocolate covered acai berries and reading a good novel, but I have realized the huge impact that a good exercise routine has not only on your waistline, but your mind, too. If I am in one of the “off” phases when I succumb to the comfort of the so-called dark chocolate treats and latest Nora Roberts novel, one of the best things I find is to make a goal. I love 5K races because they are an easy way to commit to a regimen and once you’ve paid the registration money, there’s no turning back. 5K is roughly 3.1 miles. I know it can be daunting to the non runner, but I am going to share a few tips to get you ready for a race.

1. Stretching, need I say more? Starting a running program without stretching is just plain dangerous. Your muscles need to be warmed up or you risk injury. Be sure to cover all areas too; the back, the legs, the hips and core areas are crucial. Please check out the following websites for some great stretching exercises. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretching/SM00043
http://beta.active.com/running/Articles/5-Key-Stretches-for-Runners

2. Start slow. If you’ve never run before, don’t try more than a few minutes at a time. Try 2 minutes even, then build up as you become comfortable. Here is a great site to help you build up to a 5K: http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml

3. Find your own pace. By pace, I mean not just a certain stride, but the way you run best. I happen to love spazzing out to crazy techno music; sometimes this backfires on me and I overdo it, but I find it really gets my energy up. Try different types of music or maybe you’re a person that wants to zone out and listen to an audio book. We are all created differently, so play around with music or something audio, especially if you succumb to boredom easily like me.

4. Once you are in a routine and know what your body can and can’t do, try mixing up the location. I get bored quickly so I am constantly looking for a new terrain or place to run. This helps keep your brain active and you’ll find sometimes you can achieve more out of your run just by trying out a new place.

5. Hydration is key, but not a lot prior to your run or you’ll have to find the port-a-potty often. 🙂 However, it’s a must afterwards. I always drink a vitamin packet (like an Emergen-C) after a longer run which helps my depleted body recover quickly. I can’t say I’m pro or against Gatorade; it has a lot of sugar and artificial colors, but it also works to replenish your electrolytes in a pinch.

Post stretching is very important too. Take time to cool down, try some gentle stretching since your muscles are nice and warmed up. Then, make sure you sign up for the next 5K so you have something to train for!

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