Can you guess the most difficult part of this thing? It's actually getting out there and running. Obviously. Once you do that, you get to reward yourself with food, rest, and sleep. In order to stay healthy and injury-free while running this month, there are lots of recommendations out there. Here is a quick guide based on my research and experience during this THING.
A leading sports medicine organization recommends that beginner runners should focus on eating well-balanced meals throughout the week that include carbohydrates and protein. I’ve scoured the internet for you, and these are a few recipes that check those boxes while making me really hungry. Click the photo to get the recipe.
Vegetable and Black Bean Soup
Fire Roasted Tomato Pasta with Chickpeas
Vegan Protein Burrito
Tomato Spinach Chicken Spaghetti
Teriyaki Beef Stir Fry
Greek Roasted Fish and Veggies
If I have 2 or more hours before my run, these are my top 3 snacks:
Rolled oats cooked with a banana, egg, and peanut butter
Yogurt with granola
Healthy-ish cereal with almond or soy milk
If I have 1 hour before running, I try to eat an apple or drink small smoothie (almond milk, banana, peanut butter, instant coffee) to get a little protein without weighing myself down for the run. I don't have many issues eating and drinking before runs, but
While you’re running this month, be sure to stay hydrated every day while you are running, even on rest days. I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of daily water recommendations over the years (like drinking 8 glasses a day), but the most current accepted recommendation from Harvard Medical School is 4-6 cups per day as long as you’re eating fruits and vegetables too, which are packed with water.
I try to drink 2 - 3 glasses of water in the 2 hours before my run (16 - 20 oz), which experts recommend. Until recently, I wasn't running far enough that I've needed to worry about bringing water with me on runs. Now that I'm training for longer distances, I am going on runs once per week that last anywhere from one to one and a half hours. I have still found that with proper hydration before my run, I don't need to carry water with me on the run. However, that would change if I was running in significant heat, for longer durations, or if my body was signaling to me that it requires more water (ie: thirst, cotton mouth).
Image credit: REI Co-Op, Hydration for Running: A Beginner’s Guide
There is much debate about the effectiveness of post-run stretching. There is no conclusive evidence that stretching prevents muscle soreness. However, stretching after a run can promote increased blood circulation and targeted relaxation to certain muscle groups. In short, post-run stretching can't hurt you and many runners and medical experts argue that it prevents injury. Sounds worth it to me.
I'm a big fan of stretching after my runs. I do one of these two yoga flows after every run depending on how difficult my run was that day. In the two months that I’ve been running, I haven’t had any injuries or felt overly sore, and I attribute that in large part to post-run yoga.
If yoga isn't approachable for you, here are two static stretching plans that you can do after your run.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: sleep 1 extra minute per night that you are running per week. If you are running 10 miles in a week, try to get 10 extra minutes of sleep per night, or more. When you sleep, your body produces growth hormone, especially during deep sleep. Growth hormone promotes healthy muscle and bone mass, which is particularly important if you are a runner.
If you’re feeling good about your running habit and want to motivate yourself even more, consider signing up for a race! Here are some resources to find a race near you:
Parkrun - Free, weekly, timed, community events all over the world
Find a Race - Everything from fun runs to ultra-marathons. They promise to help you find thousands of inspiring, memorable, and brilliantly sweaty experiences.
Active - 5Ks, 10ks, half marathons, and… glow runs? Find it all here.
And with that, you’re all set to start running! Like I mentioned at the beginning of this THING, running takes a lot of effort every time you do it. If you ever need motivation to get out there, visit the running inspiration page.
It’s time to do this THING!