A Runner’s Guide to Diet, Technique, & Safety

Runners guideWhen it comes to losing weight and staying in shape, running is one of the most effective options available. Running or jogging are forms of cardiovascular exercise that work and strengthen the heart. This not only helps to reduce a person’s weight and body fat, but it also reduces the risk of heart disease and related illnesses such as heart attacks or strokes. Before starting to run for good health, however, a person must know how to do it properly in order to get the maximum benefits out of their cardiovascular exercise routine. Beginning runners will need to learn about the type of diets that work best for joggers, safety issues to avoid injuries, and proper running techniques.

Diet

Proper nutritional intake is a necessity for people who take up the hobby of running for good health. It is never advisable to start a session of jogging on an empty stomach. Many runners use special drinks and energy bars to provide the necessary energy they need to carry out their exercise routine. There are, however, a wide variety of ways to get the right nutrition for the most benefit out of jogging. Lean meats plus unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all important elements that a runner should factor into their diet. Proper vitamin and mineral intake is highly important for runners as well, such as calcium for bones and vitamins C and D for muscle strength and energy. Omega-3 fats, which come from fish, can help with alleviating soreness in the muscles as well as psoriasis. Protein is a necessity for the body to repair muscle tissue that is necessarily damaged during exercise. Protein can come from fish and chicken or in the form of whey protein from dairy products. Nuts, fruits, and vegetables such as apples, oranges, bananas, peanuts, potatoes, and zucchini provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals necessary to maximize the benefits gained from running.

Technique

In order to get the most out of jogging, it will be necessary to master the right exercise techniques. To avoid unnecessary fatigue and maximize the efficiency of their run, joggers will need to learn about proper posture, pacing, and breathing. Proper posture involves keeping the head straight, which can be achieved by looking a hundred feet ahead and not looking down at one’s feet or up at the sky. Relax the shoulders and lean slightly forward but avoid hunching over, and keep the arms bent at an angle of 90 degrees. When running (even on a treadmill), the heel should not hit the ground first; rather, try to make sure that the middle of the foot is the first part to land. The foot should land below the hips and not out in front of the jogger, and it should not strike heavily. Pacing is also important: Joggers should aim to move faster than 6 miles per hour, as any slower makes fast walking more efficient. In any case, a proper pace is one at which a full conversation is possible. Take deep, rhythmic breaths, avoid fast and shallow breathing, and try for a pace of two strides per breath.

Safety

Running is good for losing weight and staying healthy, but improper techniques or poor preparation can also lead to pain or even injuries. When it comes to safety (also, see our Treadmill Safety page), proper actions must be taken even before a person goes on a run. This includes consulting with a doctor and scheduling a physical evaluation ahead of time. Another important activity before jogging includes doing warm-up exercises and stretches to condition the calf muscles, knees, ankles, and hamstrings. Proper running attire is also necessary, such as wearing the right shoes and exercise clothes that are appropriate for the weather. Identifying one’s fitness goals is important; running faster is OK for cardiovascular fitness, while running slower and longer is better for losing weight, and knowing the difference is key to avoiding overexertion. Proper posture and breathing techniques are also essential to avoiding exercise-related injuries. Water intake, or hydration, is also crucial to maximizing safety while running, especially during hours when temperatures are higher or jogging sessions that last longer than an hour.

Just for Kids

Running is also an activity that teens and younger children can enjoy. An interest in running can be developed early during physical education in school or when playing for fun at home. There are many fun games and activities that kids can learn, such as tag or relay racing. For kids who participate competitively in running activities, training and proper instruction is important to prevent injuries. By developing an interest in running during one’s youth, serious issues such as childhood obesity can be avoided and positive, healthy habits may be established for life.

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