Running For Dummies book cover

Running For Dummies

By: Florence Griffith Joyner and John Hanc Published: 02-11-1999

Running For Dummies is for everyone with a desire to run. If you’re a reforming couch potato, it helps ease you into a healthier lifestyle. If you have Olympic aspirations, take a look at different ways to improve your training. This easy-to-understand guide is also for those who want to:

  • Lose weight
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Live longer
  • Relieve stress
  • Boost creativity
  • Find a fun way to exercise

Find dependable guidance for buying running shoes. Explore ways to maximize your training program. Discover the races you’ll enjoy running. Coauthored by the “World’s Fastest Woman” and World Record holder Florence (Flo-Jo) Griffith Joyner, Running For Dummies has world-class advice on these topics and many more:

  • Nutrition and weight loss
  • Hitting your stride
  • Speed training
  • Reaching your peak
  • The day of the race
  • Marathon training
  • Identifying and treating injuries
  • Cross-training and treadmill training
  • Running for kids and seniors
Run around the block or around town. Tired of pavement? Run through the woods. Keep track of your personal progress in handy running logs in the back of the book. Improve your health, feel good about yourself, and have fun! With several million runners on the road today, you’ll find a lot of company, encouragement, and friends benefiting from this healthy and fun activity.

Articles From Running For Dummies

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Stretching Tips for Runners

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A stretch is a stretch, right? Well, not really. Stretching and the different ways to stretch are topics of controversy among runners. For the past 25 years, so-called static or gradual stretching has been considered the right way to stretch. This is a slow, gradual stretch that you hold for 15 to 30 seconds. You can choose from dozens of static stretches, for almost every major muscle group; some of the stretches are almost instinctive, like the arms-reaching-for-the-sky stretch that many of us do when we first wake up in the morning. But recently, the stretching arena has become crowded with different and new forms of flexibility training: Ballistic stretching, which consists of those bouncing exercises that you used to do in your junior high gym class, seems to be making a comeback. A new form of stretching called active isolated (AI) has gained popularity in recent years, especially among athletes. Active isolated stretching involves brief contractions of the agonist muscle to help stretch the opposite, or antagonist, muscle (the quadriceps versus the hamstrings, say), sometimes by using a rope or chord to help. Other forms of stretching require the assistance of a trained "stretcher" (as in someone to stretch you, the "stretchee"). Stretching machines are now available on the market, too. Some stretching techniques are new, and some are very old. Yoga, for example, is an ancient form of flexibility and relaxation exercise that has gained new converts among sore runners. Taking a yoga class is a wonderful complement to a running program. You don't have to assume the lotus position to get the benefits of stretching — most experts agree that you can't really go wrong with static stretching. Stretching: The truth Here's how to perform a stretch. Get into the proper position and hold it for 15 to 30 seconds. Don't bounce or force the motion. Go as far as you can, without feeling pain. If you feel some mild tension, that's okay, but you should not be in pain. Repeat the stretch. Remember that stretching is not a contest. Some people are naturally more flexible than others. But everybody can improve. The flexible five No, the "flexible five" are not some lanky, loose-jointed swing combo, but a regimen of five basic stretches that you can do if you're pressed for time. Do them every day, or at least on the days that you run. Remember to stay relaxed while you stretch, and don't hold your breath. Breathe as you stretch. Calf stretch: Stretching guru Bob Anderson calls the calf "the second heart of the body" because the calf is a major circulation area in the push-off phase of the running motion. To stretch out the calf, lean against a wall with your forearms in front of you, as shown in Figure 1. Figure 1: The calf stretch. Position your forward leg with your toe close to the wall. Bend the knee of your forward leg and slowly move your hips forward, keeping your lower back flat and the heel of your straight leg on the ground. Hold and repeat. Then do the other leg. Lower back, hip, groin, and hamstring stretch: This exercise is a simple and simply wonderful stretch for a runner, and you've probably done it thousands of times. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and pointed straight ahead. Slowly bend forward, keeping the knees "soft" (slightly bent). If you can touch your toes, fine. If you can't, fine. Feeling the stretch in your hamstrings and lower back is the key to this stretch. Quadriceps stretch: You've probably seen runners do the quadriceps stretch — and most of them are doing it incorrectly. They bend their upper bodies as if they're turning themselves over like teapots, using their leg as the handle. To do this stretch correctly, take your left foot with your right hand, while using your left hand to support your body against a wall. Gently pull your heel towards your backside, keeping the rest of the body straight. Feel the stretch in the quadriceps (thigh) muscles. Repeat with the other side, taking your right foot with your left hand. If you have particularly well-stretched quadriceps, you're likely to be able to grab your right foot with your right hand and your left foot with your left hand when you perform this stretch — all without losing your balance (see Figure 2). Figure 2: Stretching a quadricep. Hamstring stretch: Because a runner's hamstrings (the large muscles in the back of the thigh) tend to get tight, loosen 'em up with this version of the classic old hurdler's stretch. From a seated position, extend your right leg and bend your left leg, touching the inside of your right thigh with the sole of the left foot. Grasp the part of your extended leg that you can comfortably reach, as shown in Figure 3. Figure 3: Stretching out a hamstring. Some people can touch their foot, while others may not be able to reach much past their knee. Slowly and gently bend from the hip. Don't worry about being able to reach your toes or touch your chest to your leg. Just go as far as you can comfortably, feeling that stretch in your hamstrings. Then repeat, with left leg extended. Shoulders and neck stretch: Your upper body can get tense while you run, and it will definitely get tense if you do what most Americans do when not running — sit in front of a computer screen or a TV. So a little shoulder and neck stretch will help loosen you up all around. Raise the top of your shoulders towards your ears until you feel a slight tension in your neck and shoulders. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and then relax your shoulders. Repeat several times.

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Finding the Right Running Shoes

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Your chances of landing in a comfortable, quality pair of running shoes greatly increases if you shop at a running specialty shop rather than a huge, multisport center attempting to hawk everything from bowling balls to scuba gear to in-line skates. Employees of most running specialty shops typically are people who run themselves. The best running shops also serve as the center of your local running community and can be a gold mine of information on training, upcoming races, and group fun runs. A good running specialty shop not only allows you to take the shoes for a 5-minute test run, but it encourages you to do so. If the store doesn't let you test-run in the shoe, don't plunk down your dollars there. Knowledgeable running store employees will most likely ask you (nicely) the following questions before they try to fit you in a particular shoe: How much running experience, if any, do you have? How many miles a week do you run? What type of surface do you run on? Do you have any short-term goals for your running program? For example, are you training for an upcoming race? Or do you simply want to get around the block three or four times a week? The answers to such questions can help the running store people steer you in the right direction. Shop for your running shoes in the afternoon. Why? Because your feet tend to swell slightly throughout the day, and Rule No. 1 is to avoid buying shoes that are too small! (Your feet also swell slightly during a training run.) And be sure to wear athletic socks of the same thickness that you'll wear when you run. You can speed up and assist in the shoe-choosing process in two ways. First, take the "wet test" to determine what kind of foot you have, such as high-arched as opposed to flat. Second, if you tried to run or walk in a relatively recent life, bring in your old shoes. Even if the most vigorous thing you did in them was escort your toy poodle down to the corner mailbox and back, the wear pattern on your shoes may be helpful to the store employees. Wet test: Tracking your footprints You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to learn something from your footprints. Wet the bottom of one foot and then step firmly onto a flat surface (tile — or sand — works). If you have a flat foot, you'll leave a fat, complete footprint. If your footprint appears almost severed in half vertically, so that virtually no print from your arch is visible, then you have a high arch. A so-called normal foot is somewhere in between: The footprint will show about half of the arch. Figure 1 shows some wet test footprints. Figure 1: Wet tests for three different footprints. Knowing something about what type of foot you have before you head to the running shoe store can at least steer you toward a range of models with the specific technology to address your potential problems. Wear patterns and foot strike By examining the wear patterns (the places on your shoes worn smooth by repetitive use) of your old shoes, a knowledgeable shoe guru may get some clues about particular models that will fit you best. Reading wear patterns isn't an exact science; one shoe expert admitted that "It's a bit like reading tea leaves." But the more information you start with, the better your chances of getting fitted in a top-rate shoe. Foot strike is a term that you may hear bantered about in a running shoe shop, as in, "Are you a heel striker or a forefoot striker?" Most runners tend to be heel strikers who land on the outside of the heel and then roll up to push off the ball of the foot and the toes. A few runners are forefoot strikers and land more on the ball of the foot. Wear patterns on shoes can tell a lot about foot strike. A forefoot striker (the wear pattern typically results in a smooth area around the ball of the foot) may need a shoe with plenty of forefoot cushioning. An ultraheavy heel striker requires extra cushioning in the heel. Figure 2 shows the various parts of a typical shoe so that you can identify the areas where you may need extra cushion. Figure 2: The parts of a shoe. Pronation Inevitably, you will hear the term pronation if you're in the company of sports podiatrists, running store staffers, or veteran runners or coaches. The physical act of running isn't just a case of putting one foot in front of the other; running is a somewhat complex biomechanical process: Most runners (except the forefoot strikers) strike the ground on the outside of the heel. Next, the rest of the foot comes down and rolls slightly inward as it meets the surface. (This down and inward roll rotation is called pronation.) Lastly, the heel lifts off the ground as the runner propels himself off the ball of the foot and toes, applying the necessary force to move forward. The repetition of this process makes a person a runner (regardless of speed). Pronation in itself is not a bad thing because it helps your feet and legs absorb shock. However, excessive pronation — rolling in too much — can cause increased injury risks. That's called overpronation, and the answer to it is finding a shoe with good motion-controlproperties. Runners with flat feet (and those with bowed legs) tend to be prime candidates for overpronation woes. Runners who overpronate need a "straight" shoe (as opposed to one that curves at the tip) with a firm midsole for motion-control to prevent the foot from rolling inward too much upon footstrike. The very bottom of the shoe is called the outsole; the next layer up — the one designed for shock absorption duty — is the shoe's midsole.) A much less frequent problem is underpronation. Although they're a rare breed, underpronators tend to have an inflexible foot (and often a high arch, too), and when they land, their feet don't make much of a rolling-in motion. The result is a lot of pounding force. A runner that lands like a ton of bricks and underpronates definitely requires a shoe with plenty of cushioning to absorb the shock. Figure 3 shows overpronation, underpronation, and a happy medium. Figure 3: Buy shoes that match your pronation.

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What Legwork and Stride Mean to Running

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Most runners naturally land on the heel and then "roll up" to push off with the ball of the foot or toes. Midfoot strikers push off with the ball of the foot, and those rare forefoot strikers push off with their toes. Ideally, runners should land lightly on the heel, with the lead leg just slightly bent at the knee (the best method to absorb shock), immediately roll up to the forefoot or toes, and push off powerfully into the next stride. Here's a form checklist for the legs: Land lightly on the heel or midfoot, preferably with your lead leg bent slightly at the knee to help absorb shock. Avoid "reaching" with your lead leg. Knee lift should be minimal (except on very steep hills) because too much up-and-down movement results in wasted energy. When the leg swings back, you should feel a "flicking" sensation with the heel and ankle. But the flick should not be so much that you are close to kicking yourself in the buttocks. Run in a straight line. Make sure that your feet land in parallel paths and do not cross over. Crossover foot strikes are a sure sign of too much twisting and wasted motion. After each foot strike, drive into your next stride with a good push off the toes or forefoot. Avoid overstriding when lengthening your running stride Novices are often tempted to lengthen their running stride in an attempt to cover more ground. Although increasing your running stride length is one way to run faster, it more often than not results in overstriding. Overstriding, in fact, slows a runner down because it increases impact (and, because of that, injury risk) and takes you longer to get back to your center of gravity and begin the next stride. You are overstriding if you habitually "reach" with your lead leg in a virtually straight position. When your leg is straight, the first contact with the ground occurs hard on the heel. The result is a lot of shock shimmering up through the lower leg and shins, possibly affecting even your hips and back. So what's the trick? The way to effectively increase running stride length — without falling into the trap of overstriding — is to improve overall flexibility and muscle strength. It's not a quick fix, requiring a modest (but consistent) stretching program and some strength-enhancing running sessions, such as a weekly hill session. A good weight-training program, one that addresses the specific needs of runners, can improve overall muscle strength, too. But some renowned coaches, most notably Arthur Lydiard of New Zealand (often called the father of modern distance running methods), believe that hill workouts are the best way to build muscle strength that runners need. The goal to increase natural running stride length without overstriding requires the following: Creating muscles that have a greater range of motion — in effect, increased flexibility. Developing stronger muscles capable of pushing off with greater power. The result should be a slight increase in running stride length that is still within your natural gait. (Overstriding is the enemy of progress!) The gain may be so gradual and small that the average runner may have difficulty noticing. The increased stride length is simply a fringe benefit of your increased flexibility and muscle strength. Increase your running stride rate When you start running, increasing stride frequency is easier to achieve than increasing stride length. Some of the increased running stride rate will just come naturally as you get in shape, but you can make major gains by performing high-quality workouts, including even modest speed sessions on the track. Some specific drills, incorporated into your warm-up several times a week, can lay a foundation for an increase in your stride rate. Some coaches refer to stride frequency or stride rate as leg turnover. The average recreational runner takes about 80 to 85 strides per minute, but most Olympic-class runners can crank out a stride rate of over 180 strides a minute. An easy drill to add to your running program is "striders" of about 100 yards in length — the length of your basic football field. You should run these briskly, with smooth running form, but not "all out." (For example, if it takes you 15 seconds to run the length of a football field as fast as you can, then run your strider drill closer to 20 seconds per 100 yards.) Try the strider drill two or three times a week, either before or after your easy distance run. Practice proper mechanics for both your upper and lower body, and include form drills as part of your warm-up. Knowing that your arm action can dictate your running stride length and influence stride rate, you should try to keep focused on your arms in particular. Another good drill to improve stride frequency is called hot coals. Envision that you are running on a bed of hot coals and you want to "quick step" your way over them. Practice this routine for about 50 yards (perhaps 10 seconds in duration for each hot coal rep) — just long enough so that your feet don't get burned. As with striders, this drill can be part of your warm-up or cool-down. Running up short flights of stairs, landing on each step, is another drill that can boost your stride frequency. Hit every step as quickly as you can and then walk down for rest. (Try this in small doses — no more than once or twice a week, perhaps for as little as 5 minutes' worth to start — and try alternative workouts, such as hill running, if you experience knee pain.) If you run five or six days per week, consider taking one day as a "form day." The session shouldn't be a killer in a physical sense, but it can be a day to tune into proper running form and try some running drills.

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Knowing Your Running Safety Rules

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Most running safety rules are just common sense. But you see so many runners — both male and female — who violate them every day that a rules review is indeed in order. Consider the following: Don't wear headsets. This is the No. 1 rule for safe running. Why? Because when you listen to music or the radio while running outside, you can't hear car horns, cyclists, or, heaven forbid, the footsteps of someone coming up behind you. "But I love to listen to my music!" is a common rejoinder from those who refuse to give up their headsets. Fine. Wear them when you're running on a treadmill. But when you're outside, especially when you're on the roads, you are simply asking for trouble if you tune out your surroundings. If you need distractions, tune into the sound of the environment around you instead. Or listen to your music at home while you warm up, and play it back internally as you run. Or enjoy the conversation of other runners. Run against traffic. A bicycle is considered a vehicle, so it is subject to the same laws as cars and trucks. Cyclists ride with traffic. You are not a vehicle. You are a runner. You are also in a highly vulnerable position if you're running near cars, trucks, and bicycles. So the best way to prevent an untimely meeting with one of these vehicles is to be able to see them. That means running on the side of the road or on the sidewalk and running while facing traffic. If you run at night, make yourself visible. Wear light-colored clothing and invest a few dollars in a reflective vest, which you can purchase at a local running store or through a mail-order running catalog. Don't challenge cars to a race. If you and a car are both approaching an intersection, stop and let the car go first. (News flash: They're faster than you.) Beware of stopped cars waiting to make a right turn. Stop and wait until they make the turn, or run behind them. Run with others. This may be the easiest way to avoid problems altogether. Sharing the road with other runners is also a great way to stay motivated and to enjoy the sport. You can find potential partners through your running club, your running apparel store, or community bulletin boards at your library. If you must run alone, a treadmill at home or at a health club is a much safer option. A local track also offers some protection, but not if you're running alone and after dark. Avoid running alone in unpopulated, unfamiliar areas and stay away from trails surrounded by heavy brush. Do not wear jewelry. But do carry identification or write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside sole of your running shoe. Always trust your intuition. If you're unsure about a person or a place, avoid it. Carry a noisemaker or get training in self-defense and the use of pepper spray. And always call police if something happens to you or someone else or if you see something or someone suspicious. Don't stop to give directions to strangers in cars if you are running alone.

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Utilizing Carbohydrates in Your Running Program

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Some runners pick the right foods to eat the day before and morning of a race and are diligent about taking in fluids during the competition. But many of those same runners don't eat so "smart" in those weeks between races. Dietary habits can affect performance and, more importantly, overall health. A solid place to start is with the carbohydrates rule! Because runners constantly must "keep the furnace stoked" (you burn about 100 calories per mile run), shoot for a diet that is about 60 percent carbohydrates. Marathoners have a good reason for devouring big bowls of pasta and chunks of bread the night before they tackle 26.2 miles of running: Carbohydrates, or carbos as endurance athletes like to call them, are the body's primary source of energy. A typical runner's engine runs hot enough to burn fats and protein as well, but the working body prefers to stoke with carbos. Nutritionists divide carbohydrates into two camps — simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates Simple carbohydrates are found in soft drinks, candy bars, and pastries. As a rule, simple carbohydrates aren't the best source of energy because they often bring along a high percentage of fat, like what you find in a dozen donuts, for example. Simple carbohydrates can also contain a lot of sugar. If a food has large amounts of fat and sugar calories, then that particular source is unlikely to hold any significant amount of vitamins, minerals, or fiber. Nutritionists say that these kinds of foods hold "empty calories." However, some foods with high sugar content do have plenty to offer in the way of minerals or vitamins. Certain fruits — such as bananas, oranges, apples, and raisins — break down into fructose (a natural fruit sugar) but are good carbohydrate sources. These kinds of fruits are better snack choices than fat-laden foods such as candy bars. Some athletes believe that honey — because it's more natural — has more nutritional merit than refined white sugar. But honey, maple syrup, and sugar (brown or white) are all equally lacking in terms of vitamins or minerals. Brown sugar, however, does have a small amount of calcium. Complex carbohydrates Good sources of complex carbohydrates include grains, breads, vegetables, and beans. These foods take longer to convert to glucose (sugars) and are then stored as glycogen (stored dietary sugars) in the muscles or liver, to be used for energy when called upon during physical activity. Runners typically eat a lot of carbohydrates, but it's still easy to run low on the body's best fuel source. As we mentioned, runners burn up around 100 calories per mile. If you are training for a 10-K, half-marathon, or marathon and running even 30 to 40 miles per week in preparation, then you are burning a lot of calories. A "trained" muscle can store more glycogen than an "untrained" muscle — in some cases, 50 percent more. So if you run consistently, your muscles will learn to store more energy. The more glycogen the muscles can store, the longer they can perform. To keep up with the calories burned, a runner who weighs 150 pounds needs to take in somewhere between 2,500 and 5,000 calories per day. Keeping in mind that a runner burns about 100 calories per mile, obviously a professional marathoner training 100 miles per week has bigger needs than the fitness runner logging 30 miles per week. The trick is to limit (but not eliminate) the number of fat calories in your daily diet.

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What You Should Ask before You Start Running

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Before you make the transition from walking to running, here are the answers to the most basic and commonly asked beginners' questions. How often should I run? The short answer is "not every day." Indeed, for all but the very best runners — those people who have built-for-the-long-haul bodies — running seven days a week, week in and week out, is a surefire recipe for injury. Instead, try to shoot for four workouts a week. But don't assume that you don't have to do anything on the other three days. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General's office recommends that all Americans get 30 minutes of moderate activity every day. That doesn't necessarily mean running 30 minutes a day. You can walk, cycle, or perform household chores or yard work to get in your 30 minutes of activity. How long should I run? The American College of Sports Medicine defines aerobic exercise as activity that lasts from 20 to 60 minutes. That's a wide span. Forty-five minutes is the so-called gold standard of aerobic exercise. You can benefit from doing a little less or a little more, but many cardiologists agree that 45 minutes is the ideal length of time needed to accrue many of the physiological benefits of aerobic exercise. So although you certainly won't start out by running 45 minutes, ultimately that's a good goal to shoot for. How hard should I run? As you make the transition from walking to running, remember this: Running is not sprinting. You should perform your running intervals at a comfortable pace. The best way for a beginner to find the right pace is to use the time-honored talk test. If you can comfortably carry on a conversation while you're running — without huffing and puffing — you're in the right training zone. If you can carry a tune — that is, find the breath to sing — you're probably not running hard enough. You're an exception to our guidelines if you've had heart problems in the past. In that case, your cardiologist will probably have you wear a heart monitor when you start exercising. Where should I run? Runners tend to run in one of four places: Tracks Roads Trails Treadmills Beginning runners should start with the track and then eventually explore the other three options. The local high school or college oval, which is 400 meters or about a quarter-mile long, offers a measured distance, a good surface, and a closed, safe environment. Also, if you're a bit self-conscious, you can run there and not worry about nosy neighbors getting a glimpse of you in shorts and strange-looking shoes. So one of the steps to starting a running program is to find a local track -- emphasis on local. If it takes you two hours to drive to it, that's one more potential excuse to blow off your workout. Another option is a marked, measured recreational path at a local park. Another possibility is to hop in your car and measure out a mile-long loop in your neighborhood, starting and ending at your door. Make sure that the route follows a road that's well paved and as traffic-free as possible. You want a place where you can concentrate and feel relatively comfortable. This is, after all, where you're going to learn to run. The walk/run approach: A program to get you going After you're comfortably able to regularly complete 45 minutes of brisk nonstop walking, you're ready to incorporate a little running into your routine. How little will depend on you. But here's what we recommend: 1. The day that you're ready to start running, go down to the track and walk four laps. If you don't have access to a track, walk for 16 minutes. 2. Now try a nice easy jog for one lap, or about 2 to 3 minutes. If one lap is too much, try a half lap. Don't worry about speed. Just stay relaxed, maintain a "conversational" pace, and focus on good form. 3. Now walk two laps (or about 8 minutes) and jog another lap (about 2 to 3 minutes). 4. To finish up, walk four laps, or about 16 minutes. That's three miles on a quarter-mile track. You've just finished a good 45-minute workout. Try doing that for the next couple exercise sessions. Remember that you should be working out three to four times a week, or every other day. Your body needs 48 hours to adapt to the new workload that you've placed upon it. As you continue to train (and if you are feeling good), you can increase that ratio of jogging to walking. Try walking for two laps (or about 8 minutes) and then jogging for two laps (or about 6 minutes). Or walk a lap and jog a lap, until you've exercised for about 45 minutes or 3 miles. It's natural to have some muscle aches when you begin a new exercise program. But any injury that hurts during the walking phase of your early training sessions should not be subjected to running. Check with a doctor who has experience treating runners if you suspect that you have a running-related injury.

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How to Create a Marathon Training Program

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you're ready to start putting together a marathon program, start by running whatever distance you can currently run, and gradually build up your mileage until you’ve reached the point where you can cover 20 or more miles in your training. You should allow four months of training before tackling the marathon. A weekly training schedule The beginning program outlined here is very simple. From Monday through Saturday, you do basically the same thing. You run a little and cross-train a lot. These activities put less wear and tear on your joints and keep you fresh and motivated about your running. The only thing that changes in this program is the Sunday long run, which gets longer and longer. Cross-training may include other aerobic activities such as swimming or cycling. Here’s a schedule of what your typical week of training should look like: Sunday: Long run Monday: REST Tuesday: Weights or cross-training Wednesday: Run from 30 to 45 minutes Thursday: Weights or cross-training Friday: Run from 30 to 45 minutes Saturday: Walk or cross-training The weekly long run The long run teaches your body how to burn carbohydrates and fat efficiently and how to deal with the mental and physical strains of running for long periods of time. Build up your marathon training mileage by following this schedule for your weekly long runs. You can alternate the long runs with faster-paced runs or workouts in hilly areas, if you like. Long Run Schedule (one day per week) Week Miles 1 6 2 8 3 10 4 6 5 12 to 13 6 6 7 15 to 16 8 7 9 18 to 19 10 8 11 20 to 22 12 10 13 10 14 22 to 24 15 8 to 10 16 8 to 10 17 The marathon (26.2) Don’t worry about going fast during your long marathon training runs. Your challenge is to go long. That means you should run slowly, maybe a minute slower than your normal training pace. You should also take walking breaks — a minute of walking for every 3 to 5 minutes of running. Tips for making it through the long runs There’s no way around it. If you want to run a marathon, you’ve got to do the long runs. Here are some tips on how to survive these long runs and maybe even make them enjoyable! Start early in the day. Do your long run on Saturday or Sunday morning. Most people have jobs, families, and responsibilities, even on weekends. An early start allows the runner to still have a good part of the day after the run for other activities. A morning run also keeps you from training in the hottest part of the day. Make sure that you plan a route with access to water. Maybe you can map out a route that passes by a water fountain in a local park. Or you may have to run loops that pass by your car or home several times so that you can grab water each time. Restock your energy supplies. Doing a 20-miler on an empty stomach is not a great idea. The advent of energy bars and gels has made it easier for endurance athletes to get the calories they need. But, of course, you can also munch on a banana or a bagel when you get up. Because everyone has different food requirements during exercise, experiment to see what works best for you during a long run. Then take that knowledge with you into the race. You might try a bar or a gel packet before your run, and then another halfway through. Seek out the company of friends and training partners. In marathon training, running companions become more essential than ever. Why? Because you’re going to eventually get to the point where your long runs will keep you out on the roads for 2 or even 3 hours. That’s a long time! Make it pleasant and stimulating by running with others. Look at the long runs not as punishment or an ordeal but as a challenge in and of themselves. They can be rewarding, fulfilling, and even fun. Above all, they are essential to your marathon preparation.

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How to Treat Common Running Injuries

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Five of the most common running injuries are shinsplints, chondromalacia (runner’s knee), Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome. Stress fractures, which usually occur in small bones in the foot, leg or shin, also show up in runners who overtrain. Runners must constantly guard against blisters, strains, and other problems that can hinder their efforts. Rapid increases in mileage — or intensity of workouts — can place a runner in the danger zone. That’s why sports medicine professionals refer to the vast majority of running injuries as “overuse injuries.” The good news is that most running injuries affect the soft tissue, meaning that the injuries are strains, as opposed to broken bones, and heal rapidly with simple treatment and rest. The treatment methods listed below are commonly used on most of the injuries that you may encounter. Among the running set, RICE is the key word for dealing with injury. Here’s what that acronym stands for: R is for Rest: Take time off! No dedicated runner likes downtime, but attempting to grit your teeth and train through a slight injury can, at best, hinder the natural healing process. At worst, the slight injury can become more serious and knock you out of running for weeks or even months. I is for Ice: At the first twinge or hint of an injury, slap an ice pack on the hot spot. Just 15 or 20 minutes of the cold treatment will reduce inflammation. (Don’t keep the ice on much longer than 20 minutes in one spot because you can cause freezer burn to your skin.) C is for Compression: For best results, wrap the ice pack right to your leg if it’s a hamstring or quadriceps muscle. Compression helps reduce swelling. E is for Elevate: If possible, raise the injured area above your heart. Flop on the couch, an ice pack wrapped to the injured muscle, and prop the leg up on a couple of pillows. If you don’t have an ice pack, try freezing some water in a small paper cup with a Popsicle-type stick. After it’s frozen solid, remove the ice from the cup and, using the pop stick as a handle, give your wounded area an ice massage for 15 to 20 minutes. A bag of frozen peas, wrapped tightly around a sore muscle, also works. RICE is a good first counterattack choice for runners. It’s easy and cheap. But if after 48 to 72 hours of RICE (don’t cheat on the Rest part!) the injury isn’t responding (or seems worse), then seek professional medical advice.

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How to Treat Blisters

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

You can develop blisters (a small buildup of water or blood under your skin) from ill-fitting shoes or socks, seams inside your shoes, or friction against bunched-up socks. Small, deep blisters and large blisters are usually painful and can become big problems if they lead to infection. They also can keep you off your feet and knock you off your training routine for days at a time. Almost every runner suffers from blisters at one time or another, but they should be treated seriously. Here’s how to treat them: Clean the area around the blister, preferably with iodine alcohol or another solution with the ability to kill germs. Sterilize a needle in boiling water. Pop the blister with the needle and push gently on the blister (with clean gauze) to drain the liquid inside. This step should ease the discomfort. Apply salves or ointments that protect against infection. Cover the blister with a clean adhesive bandage, such as a Band-Aid or Second Skin. If you suspect that the blister is infected (it throbs painfully and appears red and swollen), then seek professional medical attention immediately.

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How to Pick Running Clothes and Other Running Gear

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

You don’t really need a lot of the gadgets that are marketed for runners. What you need, truthfully, is a good pair of running shoes and whatever you consider to be comfortable clothing. But some items certainly can enhance your running, either by providing more feedback for training, more comfort, or even protection from possible dangers. A word about running clothes You’ve probably seen very serious-looking runners wearing tight Lycra pants or shorts and a shirt made out of some space-age material. You’ve also probably seen runners wearing sweats from top to bottom (no matter what the weather is like) à la Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky movies. If you’re a beginner, here is some simple advice: Wear light, comfortable clothes that are appropriate for the weather. Avoid pants or shorts that chafe. That’s really about it. You shouldn’t worry that much about what you’re wearing. You’re better off devoting energy to getting comfortable with your running routine and sticking to it. Running watches You can purchase a plastic running watch for less than a dinner at a good restaurant. For about $30, you can get the most basic watch. But if you want waterproof, glow-in-the-dark, alarm-clock, multibeep models, you’re getting into the $100-plus range. Although you don’t absolutely need a running watch, it’s a nice thing to have to time the duration of your workouts and to monitor your pulse rate. Heart monitors Heart monitors can be of major importance for the following reasons: Your doctor thinks that you need to monitor your levels of exertion for medical reasons. You’re an advanced athlete looking to train at specific rates and gearing toward high performance. You are a habitual overtrainer who can benefit from a device that helps hold you back. Otherwise, don’t be in a big hurry to purchase a heart monitor if you are just starting a running program. You can always consider getting one if you become a lifetime runner with an eye toward improving performance in competition. If you do decide to shop for heart monitors, consider the Polar brand. They have a good variety of models to choose from and they have historically been a leader in the industry. Sunglasses Amazingly enough, some high-end, high-tech sunglasses can cost as much — or more — than a pair of running shoes. (And running shoes do better if you forget and leave them on the car seat.) Although you don’t need top-of-the-line shades, strongly consider a pair that features 100-percent protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Good sports shades can also be a general comfort-boosting accessory. Squinting your way through the last 2 miles of a morning or late afternoon run straight into a fiery red sun isn’t a lot of fun. Even winter running can expose you to lots of reflective glare off fields of snow. Shades, plus sun block and a hat with a brim, can cut down on intrusive rays, no matter what the season. Sport sunglasses can also protect you from dust, insects, and other airborne particles.

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