A Complete Runner’s Checklist
Whether you’re thinking of taking up running to improve your health or as a competitive sport, there are a few things you need to know before your feet hit the pavement. Granted, running is a sport that many people can decide to participate in at any time. But did you know that running without paying attention to the importance of things like technique and gear can put your body at a higher risk of getting sport-related injuries? So take a minute to learn about what you need to make the most of each run. Below, we break down what you need to get started with running into two parts: things you should do, and things you should have.
Things you should do as a runner
- Work on your whole body
Running is not just about how strong your leg muscles are. In fact, if you only focus on running and neglect to develop the other parts of your body, you might find yourself being more prone to running injuries that lead to a decline in performance. What you should do as a runner is to allocate days where you focus on improving your overall flexibility, agility, strength, speed, and muscular resilience through various forms of exercise. Simple stretches, yoga circuits, and targeted strength training are some great ideas.
- Practice good form
Good posture doesn’t just benefit you when you are sitting. In fact, there are many simple but effective running techniques that can really improve your running performance and experience. A few key things to remember while you are out on a run are to avoid bouncing and excessive rotation of your body, align your posture, relax your shoulders, and avoid over-striding. That being said, running form is a personal thing. As each person has a different build, so will their running technique and preferred methods vary. Practice different techniques to find out what works best for you.
- Stay Hydrated
Just as your body needs to stay hydrated throughout a normal, low-intensity day, so does it require an increased intake of water when you are losing it through perspiration while running. Instead of chugging water after a run, take a larger amount of water in smaller sips throughout your day. It’s especially important to drink before, during, and after a run. You can take in more liquids through the food you eat. Electrolyte-rich foods are great with regulating your body’s use and retention of water.
- Have a balanced diet
As a runner, you will need to eat food that helps build your endurance and fitness levels. Depending on your fitness goals, you may need to tweak the amounts of each food group that you consume. In general, however, a runner’s diet should consist of high quality carbohydrates from whole food sources, a balanced amount of protein, healthy fats, micronutrients, dietary fibre, and fluids. Whether you observe a diet that includes meat, or a paleo, vegan, keto, or other sort of diet, it is important to fuel your body with adequate nutrients from various food sources.
Things you should have as a runner
- Appropriate running gear
Running is one of those activities that requires few equipment. A well-fitting running shoe, a lightweight shirt or tank top, and if needed, a sports bra that provides good support are really all you need. You can also opt to wear compression tights if you have weaker or injured knees to reduce any vibrations and redistribute the shock from your feet constantly hitting the ground. Wearing them after a run can also help manage pain and discomfort while speeding up recovery. You can easily find such items at a reliable sports store or an online running store. Make sure to invest in quality items as they will not only last longer but be made of better materials.
- Sun protection
While spending some time under the sun can do wonders for your health and sense of wellbeing, you can put yourself at risk of skin cancer and eye damage without proper protection. Make sure to wear a body and face sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, a secure and breathable hat, as well as polarised shades like Goodr Sunglasses that don’t slip or bounce while you are running.
- A running playlist
While this is not an essential, having a running playlist of some fun tunes can help motivate you to run further for longer. You can arrange the songs to complement each stage of your running session. For example, start out with songs that are slower and build in intensity while you are warming up. Once you get into a good pace, play music that you can run on beat to. Change things up once in a while by throwing songs of different tempos into the mix to create natural running intervals.
- Running supplements
While you are running a long stretch, you might find yourself slowly feeling drained of energy and getting more dehydrated. While taking sips of water during a run at intervals will help keep your fluids up, consider taking running gels that are packed with simple carbs and electrolyte drinks There are caffeinated, vegan, and anti-cramp options that come in a variety of flavours so you can take your pick. You might even find that consuming protein blends can help you curb your cravings while keeping you fueled and fuller for longer.
Find what works for you
While the above are all recommendations, remember that it is general advice only. Take a moment to consider what you are hoping to achieve by running and consult your doctor or an accredited sports dietitian before making any big changes to your diet. Ultimately, do what is best for your body as each person has different goals and intentions when taking up running as a sport.