Running is an amazing activity that can provide tremendous health benefits. But, like any sport, if done improperly, you run the risk of seriously hurting yourself. After my exhilarating experience at the New York City Marathon this year, I figured that I could offer a few tips and tricks that will help you warm up for your next big run.
Stretch Those Calf Muscles
It seems like a no-brainer that you should stretch before you perform any physical activity. However, when preparing for running, you may want to consider a very specific type of stretching before taking to the trail. What you’ll want to do is perform a dynamic range-of-motion stretch. Essentially, what you’re doing is stretching your calf muscles in such a way that your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (the muscles that make up your calf) will get a good, hearty stretch. It is effective in avoiding straining and over striding your muscles.
This might sound silly, but walking is the ultimate tool to prepare your body for running, especially if you’ve been sitting for awhile. In essence, by walking, you are getting all of the muscles associated with running a bit of a low-intensity warm-up exercise.
Next time you are preparing for a big run, get out there and stride. A few 100-meter strides can do the body good in preparation for a run. It floods your muscles with blood and can stretch out the muscle fibers. There is a specific way to perform strides:
- Jog for about 2 minutes
- Stride in one direction while gradually accelerating and decelerating over the course of 60 to 100 meters
- After each stride, make sure to shake your legs for a minute and a half
- Then repeat the process in the opposite direction
Some Tips From the Pros
Who better to learn from than the pros? Olympic marathoner Alan Culpepper claims that he woke up four hours before the event and ate an incredibly simple, small meal right away. He also suggests to to stay hydrated and to eat another small meal about an hour or so before the marathon. Dr. Christopher Vincent, a chiropractor and sports physician who works with elite runners, suggests that you not just get a good night’s sleep before the race, make sure to get several days of good sleep before the race.
Preparing for a marathon can be a difficult task, but if done properly following some of these tips, you should do well. Good luck and have fun.