There are times when running without a plan is a great way to enjoy the journey and explore different neighbourhoods. There are other times where you may want to set goals, such as conquering specific distances and times. This article will summarize a few ways to get ready for your run. From planning and preparing, to tracking and finishing, we hope this will best help you plan your runs.
Figure Out Where To Run
Part of ensuring an enjoyable run comes down to preparation. Choosing a training environment can be broken into indoor and outdoor runs, which can be further subcategorized. Indoor runs can take the least planning, often occurring on tracks or treadmills. Many individuals find indoor running more challenging and complain of boredom. Treadmill manufacturers continue to provide innovative programs that make indoor running less monotonous, mimicking outdoor conditions and run types. Planning for these runs may involve pre-booking or scheduling times when the track or gym is less busy. Outdoor runs may involve rural, urban, or geographical landmarks. When running in a rural environment, you can absorb the scenery and cover vast distances without being held up by many stop lights. It is best to know the rural areas well before heading out. Carrying a cell phone is a must for safety. Alternatively, running in the city can be stimulating, but may also present you with various obstacles along the way. Avoiding the busy hours, and knowing which streets are good to run on, is essential to planning satisfying runs in the city. Running around landmarks such as universities, lakes, or parks can make things interesting. Keep in mind, failure to look up festivals and certain events can be disastrous when passing through these areas. Joining running clubs, searching frequently used routes, or finding your own route can help you find the best areas to run.
Map It Out
These sites work by allowing users to connect points on a map around your intended running area. This is especially helpful to plot out entire runs ahead of time, while ensuring you cover the exact distance you want to accomplish. Personally, I use these sites when feeling more adventurous or when tackling new distances. This allows me to ensure a run is feasible by determining how far a new area is from my starting point, and to avoid completing a run too far from my house. If you’re interested in using a site to map your run, here are a couple of recommendations:
MapMyRun allows users to create a free account, to save their plans, and revisit them later. Runs can be integrated into the MapMyRun App so that runners can follow their route live. It offers a view of the elevation along the way, so that you know if you’re approaching any inclines or declines. The site also offers a visual indication of each mile or kilometer your plotted course moves through.
Geodistance offers basic functionality of distance mapping but takes a very minimalistic approach in terms of features and page layout. This site uses Google Maps to allow users to click geographical points on the map to calculate the route distance. Simple, effective, and useful.
Study The Neighbourhood
Mapping sites often provide general location needs or directions. They can also serve as a great tool to familiarize yourself with the areas you plan to head into. You can use street level views to pinpoint certain landmarks to look for, allowing you to feel at ease in new areas. Whenever I am heading into a new part of the city, I like to know what to expect. Firstly, to know that I am running along my planned route. Secondly, to feel comfortable enough to concentrate on running. If I do take a wrong turn, it isn’t the end of the world. Reorient yourself and slowly make your way back onto the route.
Get Your Stuff Ready
New to running? Perhaps our Bare Essentials article will help you know what to bring. Otherwise, here’s a quick checklist to consider before heading out:
- Running Shoes
- Athletic Top
- Hat or Headband
- Cash or Card
- Anti-Chafe Product
- Running Belt
Make sure you’ve got any of the aforementioned gear on or ready to go before you step outside. Anti-chafe products are typically applied before you go out, and not carried with you. Secure keys, ID, and money in a pocket (zipped up if possible) or running belt.
Stretch It Out
Although static stretching is beneficial after running, dynamic stretching is should be done before exercise. This means doing some butt kicks, bunny hops, high knees and lunges. Doing these will get your muscles ready and reduce your chances of injury. If you chose not to stretch, begin by walking or running at a slower than normal pace. Gradually increase your speed as your muscles warm up.
Track Your Run
If you’re like me, you may prefer to know how far and how fast you’re going. I use this biofeedback to help improve my running. These Apps use the devices accelerometer and GPS tracking to calculate metrics like cadence or minutes per kilometre, providing you with instantaneous feedback. Here are some Apps that crunch the numbers and let us focus on breathing:
This is the running App that I use most. A unique feature to Strava is the “Segment”, which allows users to challenge other Strava users to a specific segment of a run. This may include a loop, a tough hill, or their entire course. If you happen to pass through a segment, the App will let you know in the results page. Strava will provide the usual run parameters, as well as how you ranked against other Strava users for that specific segment. Take the top spot and you will be crowned the King of the Mountain (KOM).
Run keeper does more than track and “keep” your runs. It motivated users with achievements, graphs your progress over time, and creates training plans based on selectable goals. Users need only follow the suggested schedule to accomplish their goals.
Nike offers many of the typical features of other Apps, with the addition of a great social media sharing tool. Sharing with Nike+ displays your routes without all of the specific street information. I prefer this privacy, as it hides where I run and live.
The Finish Line
Whether you ran indoors or outdoors, on a treadmill or along a lake, followed a popular route or explored a new neighbourhood, we hope that all of your runs are rewarding. After each run, ensure you take the time to cool down. This will allow your body to transition out of the cardiovascular stresses of running, lowering your breathing and heart rates towards normal levels. Consider doing a few dynamic or static stretches, foam rolling, applying heat or cold, and massage to relieve any tightness you may be experiencing. These steps may help with flexibility, and post-run aches and soreness.
In the 30-60 minutes following exercise, it is important to take in a recovery drink or meal. You may be tempted to eat everything in sight – fight this urge and eat a normal meal. If you’re tackling runs that go on for longer than an hour, consider having a snack immediately after a run, followed by a healthy meal.
It may helpful to prepare a meal or recovery drink beforehand to combat your post run urges. What to have? Focus on nutrients that have 3 or 4 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein. These will help to replenish and rebuild.