Got a 1k, 5k or 10k run coming up? Reduce the risk of injuries whilst on your fun run with these top tips to enjoy your run to the full.
Happy feet = happy runner
Every runner will need different types of foot support, depending on their foot posture and loading technique. I always recommend that people go to a specialist running shop, where they assess your gait and biomechanics and advise you accordingly. Having said that, it’s really important not to wear a brand new pair of trainers on race day. Start training in your new shoes and gradually get used to them well before you race competitively.
Do NOT carb load
Yes, if you’re running a half or full marathon you’ll need the extra energy, but for a relatively short race (1-10 kilometres) that pasta party the night before won’t really help. Eat as you normally would but avoid any fatty or spicy food that might trigger gastrointestinal issues on the day – you could probably do without that! On the morning of the run, eat a sensible breakfast as you normally would before training. Have a small snack about an hour prior to the run to give yourself an extra burst of energy.
Warm up before your run
Before racing, it’s a good idea to slowly raise your heart rate and get your muscles ready to run. Evidence has shown that warming up properly is the best way to prevent an injury and avoid DOMS – more on that later.
Start a slow jog or gentle warm up for about 5-10 minutes, then walk briskly to the start line. If you are at an organised event with a group warm-up session, do take full advantage of it. It will get your muscles warmed up and should get you pumped up and ready to enjoy the race.
Consider your position at the start line
Don’t be tempted to be the first to cross the start line, especially if you’re a newbie. Standing too near the front will mean that seasoned runners will be racing past you, which can be off-putting. It can also lead to a crash and burn early on, if you start too fast. Pace yourself and listen to your body – it will thank you later.
Hydration is key
Take advantage of any water stations throughout the course to ensure your body stays well hydrated. It’s worth slowing down for a few seconds to get that essential fuel in your body – you’ll make up for the time lost as hydrated muscles work far more efficiently than dehydrated ones.
Cool down and stretch immediately after running
You crossed that line – woohoo!! But you’re not actually done yet. Slow down and walk for a few minutes after the race to allow your heart rate and blood pressure to normalise. Gently moving will improve blood flow, which helps remove lactic acid that will have built up during the run.
Additionally, do some gentle stretches to the main leg muscle groups such as quads, hamstrings and calves to relieve muscle tension. You can foam roll your legs and then perform 30 second stretches as below to each muscle.
Don’t let DOMS dishearten you
DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the deep muscle ache that you feel for 24-48 hours after a workout. You probably won’t feel it immediately, but you’ll know all about it when you try to get out of bed or climb the stairs for a couple of days after running. This is a natural physiological reaction to your body exerting itself and is completely normal, especially if you haven’t pushed yourself as hard during training as you did during the race. If you do suffer from DOMS, try having a hot bath, or you could use some Deep Heat or other warming balm to soothe sore muscles.
If you’re new to running, your body may take a few days to recuperate, so allow yourself time to recover. Continue to hydrate, eat nutritious food and get some good sleep for a few days following the run.
Have fun on your run!
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a personal best, especially if it’s your first race. Crossing the finish line and enjoying the experience are great achievements and not to be sniffed at! Relax and enjoy your accomplishment – you’ve earned it!
If you experience pain after running that persists longer than two days, please contact us. We will happily discuss your pain with you and see if physiotherapy is the right course of action.