When it comes to choice of exercises to improve fitness, many people rated running as their first choice for its low cost and convenience. While historically our ancestors run a lot for hunting and survival, our modern lifestyle has made a lot of us spend far more time sitting down. With sedentary lifestyle many key muscles needed for running are weakened. Therefore without proper training or guidance/ poor posture many people end up getting injured or feeling strains during/after the exercise. In fact many stress related injuries can be prevented, while enjoying your running. Below are some important messages for you to pay attention to!
1. Improve your flexibility
Due to sustained sitting or working posture, we may develop tightness in certain muscles and may have improper habitual position of our joints. For runners the most important joints of concern are the hip joints. Tightness of muscles in the front, inner aspect, or at the back of the hip will lead to the hip joint.
2. Build up your hip and core muscles
Some people think that running is basically a lower limb sport, therefore just focus on building lower limb muscles. However if the core muscles, namely muscles around our abdomen, don’t get to be strengthened, we can get serious strain at the lower limb and back with running. The core muscles consist of diaphragm, abdomen wall, and pelvic floor region. When we activate them together, they increase the pressure inside the abdomen and making the core region solid, just like a pumped up football. When the core region becomes solid, it not only provide stability for good balance control, but also create power as it move in space. This is a critical foundation to allow anyone run well.
Also important to strengthen your gluts and quadriceps as they are the main power muscles that enable you to run fast. Sufficient gluts strength ensures good form when you run so that you can reduce chance of lower limb injury.
3. Proper running technique
There are many runners who use the same style for both sprinting and distance running, but actually they are two different sports and have different requirements.
Long distance running
Cover same distance with fastest time
Able to last long distance with most efficient run
Big stride and large trunk rotation, trunk is almost upright
Forward leaning and smaller strides, leverage on gravity to generate momentum
Centre of gravity
Higher position, goes up and down like waves
Lower position, almost a straight line
Fore foot landing
Whole foot landing
Primarily using stored energy from the muscles (anaerobic metabolism)
Primarily gets energy through muscles burning carbohydrate (aerobic metabolism)
Therefore if you plan to run a marathon, it is important to train your endurance and always run without wasting your energy.
4. Progressive training for the marathon
Since distance running is primarily about lasting the run, we have to gradually condition the body into longer running distance at least 8 to 12 weeks before the actual race. There are various marathon preparation program adopted by seasoned runners and each program may be different in the actual routine, but in general it is rostered with moderate intensity run, strengthening exercise, alternative cardio workout e.g. swimming or cycling, higher intensity run, and rest days. Each week the distance can be increased by 5 to 10 percent so that you can build up the stamina smoothly.
5. Preparation Just before Marathon
Now your big race is happening soon, it is really important to get well prepared:
Mental relaxation and focus on the race.
Get familiar with the route
Adequate rest and recovery before the race
Proper nutrition to let your body store more carbohydrate to burn during the race
Hydration loading start from 1 hour before the race
Properly fitted shoes