Spring has finally sprung, and you know what that means…. The Indy Mini Marathon is only one month away! As you transition from the treadmill to the tarmac, this is a great opportunity to address those aches and pains that have built up over the winter. Save the spring cleaning for another day, now is the time to focus on you! In this blog we will cover a few simple tips and tricks to help optimize your training and make the most of your big race day. Is running not your thing? Don’t worry, these techniques can be used to help with just about any sport or activity.
Like they always say, the best defense is a good offense. That being said, I like to stay proactive when it comes to keeping your body feeling great. Injury prevention isn’t about the absence of pain; it’s about having the right reaction when that pain comes along. A timely response will help you avoid acute injuries that could pull you from the pavement for an indeterminate hiatus. Whether your starting to feel those long miles creep up on you or not, it’s a great idea to keep things in check and give your body the tune up it deserves!
Let’s start with proper warm up and cool down techniques. Before your run it is important to stick with dynamic style movements. Examples of these include high knees, butt kicks and walking RDLs, just to name a few. Through dynamic warm ups you will improve flexibility, increase heart rate and promote muscle explosiveness, all which lead to a better run. Now for the cool down, be sure to give yourself adequate time at a slower pace. This allows your heart rate to come back down gradually and actually helps with the muscle recovery process.
One of the most common mistakes that an athlete can make is thinking that the work stops once the run is over. Resisting the urge to jump right back in the car after your run will always pay off. Spending just 5-10 minutes stretching after your workout can be the difference between hitting that personal best time and not. Most athletes are great about spending enough time on the hamstrings and calves, but I must stress the importance of not skipping the glutes and hip flexors. Many times tension in these areas can go unknown until it is too late, exposing you to unnecessary pain. In the office, our favorite stretches for these areas are the pigeon and the couch stretch respectively, but find what works best for you and watch the results follow! Want to ramp up post run recovery even more? Lay on your back with your legs supported vertically up against a wall. Hanging out here for a few minutes will improve blood circulation and help push out the lactic acid build up in your legs.
Now lets talk about what you can do when your not out pounding away the miles. Grab your favorite mobility tools (foam roller, lacrosse ball, ect.), otherwise know as torture devices, and play a little game of search and destroy. Here the goal is to find the tight and tender areas and give them the TLC they deserve. Whether you already know where your tight spots are at or not, I encourage you to spread the love everywhere. Make sure to get all aspects of the legs, back and even the bottom of your feet! You may be surprised to find out that you’re sore in places you didn’t even know about. This is a great way to take inventory on areas you need more work on.
Lastly, lets look in the fuel tank to see if this could be flipping your “check engine” light on. Nutrition plays a huge roll in how you perform and how your body responds to training, so lets do a quick fuel check. When it comes to eating the right foods, it’s best to keep it simple. Ultimately, by consuming foods that are non processed with natural ingredients you are giving your body the best opportunity to perform at a high level. This keeps inflammation in check, increases energy levels and improves overall well-being. If you find yourself struggling with where to start, try looking up a paleo style diet. This will give you some great ideas and will help you keep things simple. For water intake a good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day. By making some small nutritional changes you may be pleasantly surprised at the difference it can make.
By no means is this blog entirely comprehensive, but it will give you a great place to start. Spending a little extra time every day to give your body the care it deserves will help you to feel better, make improvements on previously unknown weaknesses and enjoy the running process even more. So what are your waiting for? Start that tune-up today to see how you can make improvements for tomorrow!
Content provided by Dr. Milton Brinza