Training and running a 5k has become a symbol for many people who wish to break the shackles of their sedentary lifestyle and join the outside world for a good cause. If this sounds like you, then congratulations on your willingness to break free of the couch and join the active world.
However, before you grab your new shoes, do a few stretches that you remember from high school, and start pounding the pavement, you might want to follow this short checklist to ensure success. Don’t let your new found will-power be derailed by an injury within the first week.
- Regain flexibility by stretching, foam rolling, or getting a sports massage. Our body loses flexibility due to sitting for long periods of time, bad posture, and bad habits. Restoring proper muscle length decreases the risk of muscle strains.
- Strength training with bands, free weights, or weight machines has been shown to improve running efficiency and muscle endurance. Stronger muscles result in creating less stress on your joints and better shock absorption for your entire body.
- Do not stretch before a workout as it may lead to an increased risk of injury. Use a dynamic warm-up regimen and foam roll before running or working out. Do leg swings, knee to chest hugs, side lunges, trunk twists, and high knee jogging as part of the dynamic warm-up for at least 5-10 minutes prior to your workout. Do a cool down regimen that includes stretching after you are finished running or working out. Your body will be warm and the most flexible after a run, so push yourself and use a stretching strap to get a deep stretch.
- Eat a small snack and hydrate with electrolytes 30 minutes before your run. The snack should have complex carbs (like wheat bread, oats, etc). Fueling with a carb-protein snack ensures that the body does not use muscle as fuel. Have a recovery protein shake or bar within 30 minutes of completing your run.
- Take rest days in your training cycle. Let the body, joints, and muscles recover from the training. Over-training can led to decreased performance and a higher rate of injury.
So, in short, here’s your Implementation Plan before your next 5k:
- Flexibility – Stretch, Foam Roll, Sports Massage
- Strength Training – Pick up the weights or exercise bands
- Warm up/cool down – Before and after every work out and run
- Proper Fuel – Good carbs and protein before and after your run
- Rest – Let the muscles recover