what makes running cool?
Running is one of the most accessible activities – second only to walking. All you need is a pair of shoes (preferably a good pair) and a place to run… There’s no fancy equipment or special skills required, although you’ll find that there is good and bad technique, but more on that later.
Proper running shoes, and comfortable shorts and vest are essential for an enjoyable running experience. Licenses are only necessary in appropriate categories, which are not graded to ability, but to age.
training for novices
Decide whether you plan on being competitive or social, and set yourself goals. Build a base gradually, increasing weekly mileage by 10%, then start working on speed. It takes time to build up the endurance and leg resilience to run for even a short period of time, even if you’ve been walking, cycling or doing other activities. Listen to your body and rest when your legs are sore, especially in the first month. But don’t give up!
The more you train the stronger you get, but when training gets too much it leads to fatigue. When fatigue builds up you experience reduced performance and risk sudden training injury. It is important to take breaks from your regular training to allow muscle recovery.
Tips for speedy muscle recovery
- Take a complete rest from training – missing one or two days will only help you recover faster
- Massage after runs that leave your legs achy
- Compression socks and tights reduce tightness and aches. Wear them during and after your runs
- Hot baths with bath salts
- Stretching properly
- Stay hydrated day in day out – you’ll find that drinking between 2 and 4 litres a day depending on your size and the temperature is optimal.
It’s important to decide where you’ll run, at what time, with whom and whether your route is safe. Let someone know where you are running as a second insurance policy.
Try to avoid running during peak traffic to avoid air pollution and the possibility of collisions with vehicles or bicycles. One way to avoid these scenarios is to run at a gym. Treadmills offer a relatively cushioned surface which does prevent some injuries. Ultimately, though the outdoors provide the most satisfying workout.
Although not recommended, if you really want to listen to music or audiobooks while running outdoors, make sure the volume is low so you can still hear approaching cars. At all times you should endeavour to run towards traffic so you can predict the actions of drivers well before you get nailed by a car.
For visibility, always wear reflective clothing when running at night.
If you’ve done any of the other endurance sports, you’ll know the importance of proper hydration. The reality with running is that sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in building our speed and distance that we forget the importance of replacing lost fluids and electrolytes. The result can be muscle fatigue and weakness and sometimes more serious symptoms such as lightheadedness, confusion and even fainting. That’s why it’s important to keep proper hydration principles in mind at all times when you’re running or participating in other vigorous exercise. Here are some hydration tips and guidelines for keeping you in tip top running condition:
Drink even when you don’t feel thirsty.
It’s tempting not to drink when you don’t feel thirsty but dehydration can easily sneak up on you during your run. You’re losing fluid and electrolytes during strenuous exercise which needs to be replaced in order to maintain promote good blood flow to the muscles, supplying them with sodium, potassium, and carbohydrates they need for fuel. Drinking fluids also helps to cool your body and maintain a normal body temperature.
Start drinking before your run.
Before you step foot on the pavement to run, you should hydrate yourself well in order to maximize performance and prevent dehydration during your run. Several hours before your scheduled running of exercise session, drink at least sixteen ounces of fluid in the form of water or a sports drink such as Gatorade. By taking your fluid in well before you start running you should have less problems with running on a stomach filled with fluid.
Drink during your run.
As a general rule, you’ll want to drink around seven ounces of fluid every fifteen to twenty minutes during your run. If you’re running on a warm day, you may want to consume a bit more to compensate for excess fluids lost due to the heat.
Practice proper rehydration after your run.
The most precise way to rehydrate yourself after a run is to weigh yourself to determine how much fluid you lost during your exercise session. You can then replace the lost fluids by drinking twenty ounces of fluid for every pound lost through sweating.
Consider sports drinks as an alternative to water.
Sports drinks help to replace the potassium and sodium lost from sweating and are a good source for carbohydrates which fuel your muscles when they’re working hard. Some have been show to boost running performance. By replacing lost electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, you reduce your risk of developing a painful muscle cramp during your running session. If you plan on running longer distances, consider substituting a sports drink for at least a portion of your water.
By following these hydration tips and maintaining proper hydration during your runs, you’ll increase your performance and reduce the incidence of serious medical problems related to dehydration.
contacts & events
There are events throughout the year that cater for all ambitions, including cross-country and track runners. The addition of walking events has further increased the spectrum available. Cross-country running is done in winter for strength and stamina, and track in summer for speed. Road races also take place throughout the year and range from short 5km races to the grandaddy Comrades Marathon.
Contact: Athletics SA www.athletics.org.za