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As it turns out, it's no rocket science. Here are nine habits you can adopt to reach that next level of running you thought existed in egoistic daydreams.
By diet, I don't mean starve yourself. On the contrary, you shouldn't deprive your body of the nutrients it needs. Therefore, by diet, I mean you should get a balanced intake of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, which are all vital for the body to function at its best. Timing is just as important, too. It is recommended to eat within thirty minutes after completing a workout (in this context, a run) for the best recovery rate. As always, don't forget to hydrate yourself.
An extension to point #1 because this needs a section of its own. The non-stop nagging from our parents to eat more vegetables is proving its worth, even more so to runners. According to a report, vegetables should be a staple in every runner's diet as they contain high-quality carbohydrates and antioxidants to fuel your runs as well as aid in recovery. Also, each daily serving of vegetables reduces your risk of early death by about five percent.
Cross training, a.k.a. Doing other exercises instead of running, is important to your overall physique as a runner. It not only balances out the strength distribution across your body, but it also helps to minimise the potential long-term injuries caused by running.
According to Henry Howe, a rehab specialist at Reebok Sports Club London, he cites swimming as one good cross-training alternative, because it has the same intensity as running and reduces the load on one's muscles and joints.
"To some, running has become such a regular staple that the thought of going a day without it is simply unthinkable."
In Singapore's furnace-like heat, it is extremely tempting to hide out until the sun vanishes from view before embarking on your daily run. However, there are strong arguments supporting the case for taking those runs in the morning instead.
Our article has listed key physical and mental perks derived from a morning run, such as lower blood pressure and reduced stress.
Not to mention that morning runs are also practical. They keep you awake during the mornings and are less likely to clash with schedules that you may have later during the day.
Applying sunscreen may seem like something only beachgoers will do, but this is also recommended for anyone who plans to go outdoors during the day.
According to a study by Austrian dermatologist Christina Ambros-Rudolph, runners have a greater risk of skin cancer. This is due to the unseen UV exposure that radiates from the sun and is at its strongest anytime between 10 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon.
Besides sunscreen, do also look out for SPF-rated running attire to help combat this silent killer.
With technology at our fingertips, gadgets have become a part of our everyday routine, even for running. Most of us tune into our favourite songs while clocking mileage. There are benefits to abstaining from your technological needs every once in a while.
According to Dan Flynn, a former runner and coach at Regis College, running without these gadgets reduces the amount of distraction and misjudgement one can get. For instance, you can tune into a song that is too fast-paced, which subconsciously compels your body to run at that tempo. This can eventually wear out your stamina quicker than you intended.
Of course, this does not mean you have to abstain from music for all your workouts. Instead, cultivate a habit where you can do without it for certain runs - the better to focus on your breathing, pacing and overall running form to reach that finish line.
You probably have read earlier articles on the importance of rest, and chances are, you'll probably hear about it again - a virtual nag if you will. This is because rest is always something overlooked by many "in the zone", and end up paying the consequences later. To some, running has become such a regular staple that the thought of going a day without it is simply unthinkable.
That's why it is helpful to keep yourself reminded of the importance of rest days, as theorised in this article. Your body needs that rest to recover from hard training, so listen to it.
Goals, or milestones, are good gauges to see how far you've progressed, and it keeps you motivated to further that progress.
Haven't ran a full marathon? Perhaps that can be one goal to consider in the coming months. It can also be something more realistic, like an improved timing on your runs, or even to run further than you usually do. Goals like these may just be little steps, but progress is long-term, and you will be surprised at how much you're improving.
Devote More Time to Warm-ups and Cool-downs
Most of us tend to do a quick stretch before jogging off, and while we acknowledge the importance of conducting warm-ups and cool-downs, just how long should we do them?
Personal trainer Allie Burdick outlines ten crucial muscle areas for runners, such as the quad, hamstrings, and calves. Singaporean men can relate to the SAF warm-up and cool-down regime, which is actually an accurate gauge of the minimum you should be spending on these stretches (about 5 minutes if done properly).
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