Whether you're a Runner Newbie or training for your 3rd marathon, it never hurts to learn the tricks od the trade when it comes to being a smart runner. Matt Casturo, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and owner of The Human Movement System, lays out 4 questions you definitely need to be asking yourself before you begin/continue your running program.
1. What is my goal?
Having a goal can make training more enjoyable, purposeful, and rewarding. This will make it easier to track progress, accomplish small tasks, stay on track, and have fun. Making a goal can be as simple as writing down 3 things that you want to get out of the training season. Try to make at least one physical goal, one personal mental goal, and one relationship-oriented goal. If you have trouble making individual goals, consider joining a running group, working with a Personal Trainer/ coach, or building a fitness support network through friends and family.
2. Am I eating the right food?
This is one of the biggest questions that runners have. Rightfully so, because nutrition can make or break your training! Runners will generally need 1.2-1.4g of protein per Kilogram of Bodyweight. This means that a 200-pound (90k) runner will need about 118 grams of protein to maintain and improve lean muscle mass during training. Amount of carbohydrate and fat per day is determined by many factors including Resting Metabolic Rate, daily activity, running mileage, etc. Work with a dietitian to determine your individual macronutrient needs!
3. What are my muscular weaknesses?
Running involves the entire body, which makes it a great form of exercise. When there are weak links in the chain, however muscles can overwork and underwork and joints can take a beating. To prevent this from happening, you have to find your individual weaknesses and work to correct them. Strengthening a weak glute for example can save the back from taking the strain of the hip dropping during each step of a run. A weak tibialis anterior may impact landing mechanics and result in foot or calf pain. Working with a movement specialist to address your individual weaknesses can give you a plan of what muscles to focus on strengthening.
4. What do I actually need to stretch?
Most runners understand the importance of stretching. It can help improve running form and running economy, prevent injury, and aid in perceived tightness and recovery. In order to achieve the best results from post-run stretching, it is important to stretch the muscles that are actually tight on you! Some people are limited by hamstring tightness, others lack hip extension, others need to stretch calves. By going through a movement assessment with a qualified Personal Trainer, you can determine which stretches and mobility exercises will actually help you improve your individual technique and keep you from getting injured.