Chris Carmichael is the founder, CEO and president of Carmichael Training Systems, a team of coaches for endurance athletes and personal coach to seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.
Millions of Americans run daily, and whether it’s a few laps to get in shape or training for a marathon, each run starts with a single step. Having a basic routine to follow will help you reach your goals and stay healthy. Here are Chris Carmichael’s top 10 tips to help you go the distance:
- Run with a sports drink: To get the most out of your training you need fluid, carbohydrate, and sodium during your workouts. Fortunately, you can get all of these from a sports drink; just make sure it’s one that’s rich in carbs, not just electrolytes.
- Check your shoes: Running shoes take a beating and once they’re worn out they don’t provide the support needed by your feet, ankles and knees. To help prevent injuries, replace your shoes every four months or 400 miles, whichever comes first. It’s also important to take care of your feet. To prevent blisters and treat dry and cracked skin, apply an anti-chafing ointment like Aquaphor Healing Ointment to your feet before you run and after you get out of the shower.
- Focus on flexibility: Runners benefit from flexible muscles in the legs, hips, and torso, but when you stretch is important. Some light stretching as part of your warm-up is a good way to loosen up for your workout, but stretching again after your workout is more effective for developing greater flexibility.
- Food is fuel: When you’re exercising to gain fitness you absolutely have to eat. If you’re working out but not consuming enough calories to support your activity level, you’ll get tired but you won’t get faster or more fit. As a runner training for a marathon, shoot for 5 moderate-sized meals a day, with 50-60% of your calories coming from carbohydrates, 20-25% protein, and 15-30% fat.
- Get the most out of your time: To improve performance and burn more calories, interval workouts are more effective than running at a constant pace. Start running at your normal pace, then pick up the pace and go faster for a one-, two-, or three-minute segment before returning to a slower pace to recover for a few minutes. Repeat this 3-5 times during your run and watch your fitness take off.
- Get ready for hills: Great fitness goes a long way to carrying you up and over hills, but some hill-specific training is a good idea too. Once a week, find a short, steep hill and sprint straight up the hill for 15 seconds, driving with your arms and raising your knees to get up the steep grade. Walk or jog for one minute, and repeat four more times. Walk or jog for five minutes and repeat the set.
- Enter local road races: Big city marathons put you on the road with a huge crowd of people, and that’s a very different environment than you’re used to if you mostly train alone or in a small group. Enter a local race, a 5K or a 10K early on in training, or a half-marathon about three months out from your goal event, in order to get comfortable running in a crowd.
- Boost your sustainable pace: The stronger your aerobic system and greater fitness, the faster you can go for the same amount of effort. But to gain that fitness and make it easier to run at your current cruising pace, you need to get out of your comfortable cruising pace and bring it up to as fast as you can maintain during a workout called a Tempo. Beginners may run 10-minute Tempos, intermediate runners 20 minutes, and advanced runners 40 minutes or more.
- Don’t get rubbed the wrong way: Anyone who says running is not a contact sport has never had their inner thighs rubbed raw during a marathon or long training run. My advice is to protect the skin with Aquaphor Healing Ointment. Use it before you run on your inner thighs, underarms, nipples, under sports bra straps and under the waistband of your shorts.
- Practice for race-day eating and drinking: Race preparation is about more than just fitness. During a marathon you’ll be grabbing cups of water or sports drink from tables or volunteers. Set up a table with cups and practice grabbing one or two without stopping. To drink from a cup on the run without spilling most of it down your shirt, pinch the top to create a spout. Also, be sure to experiment with different foods on your training runs so you know ahead of time what works for you and what upsets your stomach.
I am thankful to have personally tried the Aquaphor Healing Ointment following a couple of my long runs.... you know the kind of long runs that leave you a little sore.... and not with muscle soreness? I tried some of this ointment a little apprehensively, but it soothed the pain, the same type of pain that lingered with me for days in some cases following other long runs. I have yet to try using it before a long run because I always seem to forget until the pain is already there, but will on one of my next long runs.
What are some of your recommendations? That is one thing I really like about fellow runners, they are always willing to share what has worked for them.
Tim Wilson - blog.262quest.com - subscribe - follow