While running, our bodies undergo extreme changes from head to toe: the muscles in our lungs work faster to deliver 15 times more oxygen we need during exercise; our heart rate increases to pump more blood into the exercising muscles; our capillaries dilate and our joints are under tension.
We’re strengthening our body but at the same time, we’re vulnerable. One wrong move and snap! “Wow, fear mongering much?” you may think, but like everything else, better to be safe than sorry. So, we’ve dug up 5 bad running habits you need to avoid.
It’s tempting to push ourselves harder and harder when we can see and feel the fruits of our hard work. We see ourselves running better, longer, faster, and we want more. But, experts warn against overtraining.
Toby Tanser, studied the Kenyans - some of the world’s strongest runners. He wrote in More Fire: How To Run The Kenyan Way, “Kenyans are excellent at realizing that the most scientific, effective, superb form of resting the body is to do absolutely zilch. The term ‘active rest’ does not apply.”
After a particularly intensive training, it is completely alright to enjoy a couple of rest days. Pushing your body to the limit over time can lead not only to physical but also mental exhaustion.
Also, the suggested recovery period after running a race is one day of rest for every mile ran during the race. Starting training too soon may result in both emotional and physical burn-out.
Fast and furious may work during the race, but after the dust settles, the rule is slow and strong.
Lack of Sleep
Have you been reducing sleep to get more exercise or skipping exercise to get more sleep? Experts would suggest doing the latter. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep (or the daily struggle) can reduce our alertness and wreck our mood. At this state, even a simple exercise can turn into a back-breaking one.
Jason Fitzgerald, the author of Running for Health and Happiness, explains the importance of sleep with the stress adaptation cycle. Our fitness dips after being subjected to a tough training. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body won’t recover well, and you won’t be in better shape for your next run.
It isn’t worth it to skip a good night’s sleep because the study reveals that the nasty effects of sleep deprivation don’t just go away. Even after 2 days of recovery sleep! So, pyjamas over lycra it is.
Swinging Your Hands Across Your Body
Moving our hands in a criss-cross pattern over the midline of our bodies causes your upper bodies to work harder than necessary. This movement also tends to make us cross our legs over each other while running. This slows us down!
Terence Gerchberg, New York City Nike Marathon Training coach, said that we need to be aware of where our arms are during a run. He advises runners to relax their arms, keep their elbows at a 90-degree angle and move them front to back. It’s harder for your arms to cross when they are lowered.
The result? Improved performance!
Squeezing Your Fists
Because nothing shows determination more than clenching our hands, right? But, as it turns out, this habit can take a toll at our running performance. Gerchberg said that the pressure we put on our hands when we ball our fists will travel to the forearms and shoulders. This, in turn, will affect the energy circulation in our bodies. When the hands and arms are tense, our legs will feel it too.
So, the next time you feel the urge to squeeze your fists, remember to let your arms fall on your side, relax your shoulders and shake it off instead.
Being Your Own Doctor
Most of us pay careful attention to our health and bodies. After all, why put in the extra effort to run if it’s not for a healthier and stronger self? But, runners can also be “hyperaware” of their bodies. We tend to self-diagnose and self-treat. Feeling a stiff calf? Great, bring out the heat pad. Experiencing muscle soreness? Nah, it’ll be okay, just walk it off.
Time to stop! Lewis G. Maharam, M.D., a medical doctor of the New York Road Runners and Team in Training, said that minor injuries could become serious if not given proper care. If you have persistent pain or aching anywhere in your body after exercising, consult a doctor or sports medicine specialist. Their professional opinions and targeted treatment will not only make the pain go away, they can also allow you to recover better and get back on track.
"After a particularly intensive training, it is completely alright to enjoy a couple of rest days. Pushing your body to the limit over time can lead not only to physical but also mental exhaustion."
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