10 Tips to Keep Your Legs Fresh and Healthy for Your Next Run
How many times have you gone running and felt like your legs were made of concrete, or worse? Surprisingly, they might not feel so bad from something that you did as from something that you didn’t do. Treat your legs well when youre not running to gain more enjoyment from your running workouts, increase performance, and speed up recovery time.
1. If you eat before running, wait at least 3 hours before beginning running. Almost nothing you eat immediately before a run will digest enough to give you energy during your run. If you do have to eat, choose something your system can easily absorb, such as a banana, a few spoonfuls of peanut butter or honey, or a handful of dried fruit.
2. Drink at least 8 oz. of water a half hour before heading out to prevent dehydration. If you're going for longer than a 10K, you might consider taking a water bottle or planning a route that has a water stop along the way. Staying hydrated will keep your legs from cramping, especially in hot weather.
3. You may be tempted to do intense stretching to get warmed up, but try Chi Running Body Looseners instead. Ankle rolls, hip rotations, and knee circles are a few gentle exercises you can do to get your body loose and relaxed without straining cold muscles and joints. See the Chi Running book or DVD for a detailed explanation.
4. Begin running with a very relaxed and easy stride - not too fast. Increase your pace slowly until you're running at your desired level. If you start running too fast, you risk running out of gas early in your workout, and you’ll feel more soreness in your legs afterwards.
5. Track the mileage on your running shoes. At about 500 miles, mid-soles can become too compressed to return to their original shape between runs, and your feet and legs will begin to notice. Be sure to replace your running shoes regularly.
6. After a 3-5 minute cool down jog, stretch thoroughly. Don't just jump back into your car and head off to your next event, or you could be walking around with tight legs for the rest of the day. Doing a cool down and stretching period allows the lactic acid (the waste product created by your muscles) to be flushed out into your bloodstream and eliminated from your body.
7. Take a hot bath or relax in a hot tub after your running workout if you can. Soaking your legs warms your muscles and relaxes them back into their normal shapes. A shower doesn't work as well, unfortunately, but it's still good for your legs if a bath is out of the question.
8. Do "leg drains" by lying on your back with your legs extended vertically and feet propped against a wall for 3-4 minutes. This drains the blood out of your legs so fresh, clean blood can be pumped back into them when you stand up. You can do leg drains either immediately after stretching or after your bath. Either way, you'll notice a markedly different pair of legs under you when you get up.
9. If you've just done a strenuous workout, one of your next two meals should be a solid protein meal, which helps your muscles rebuild themselves. Add a hearty green salad and fresh vegetables to replenish your system with valuable minerals.
10. Whether or not you're a regular runner, you should be drinking water all day long. Eight to ten glasses of water spread throughout the day will replenish the fluid lost to exercise. Don't drink your water all at once; just keep an even flow going.
The more time you spend taking care of your body between runs, the more it will reward you with many years of enjoyable workouts. You'll also notice an increase in your performance levels. It's a universal law: the more preparation we put into something, the better the results. The same applies to your pain-free running technique.
- body looseners,
- race food,
- leg drains,
- Fresh Legs