Running is something most of us do but don’t always enjoy. Then again, you might be one of those people who love being out in the fresh air every day, pounding the roads with an uplifting view and harboring dreams of going from a typical 5K to a whopping half marathon (13.1 miles) in just six weeks.
Good news is, you don’t necessarily have to be a life-long runner to achieve those dreams. Anyone who’s in good health and capable of using their two legs can follow these precise rules to not only make the jump in distance but also potentially become a winner without the need of an expensive coach.
1. Fuel runs right
Runners don’t snack, they grub. Go for things like lean meats and hearty complex carbohydrates along with some whole fruits and veggies, for example. If you’re planning on racking up the miles, you better rack up your meal planning too.
2. Leave thirst at home
Winners don’t grab Gatorade or Red Bull; instead, they grab a gallon of water and lug it around with them, and maybe even infuse it with a little coconut water to get their electrolytes and potassium. Water transports vital nutrients and oxygen around your body, allowing you to make significant gains without the muscle aches.
Drink about 17-20 fl oz prior to exercise and another 7-10 fl oz for every 10-20 minutes of your workout. On finishing your run, drink 16-24 fl oz for every pound lost through sweating.
3. Get enough deep sleep
Don’t punch play on the late night Netflix binge; instead, turn out light sources – including all those from your electronic gadgets. It’s when we’re getting adequate and quality sleep that our fat burning and muscle repairing is prompted by the leptin released from our brain.
Tossing and turning, especially after just having had a pre-workout prior to an evening sweat session, is not a good idea, nor will it help with what your body is naturally capable of.
4. Stretch vital muscles
Practice slow and concentrated long stretches lasting 10-15 seconds, especially for your core, glutes, hips, hamstrings, quads, shins and calves. This alone should take at least 15 minutes, but you’ll also be exercising your breathing technique at the same time, which will benefit your run.
5. Asses and keep trucking
This doesn’t mean that as a beginner you should go full speed and end up throwing up along the road. Wear a quality heart rate strap during a couple of your usual 5K runs to assess your average heart rate so you can ensure you don’t spend too much time in the extreme zone in future runs, thus avoiding vomiting and other problems.
6. Monitor your well-being
Are you fatigued or pumped after your regular 5K? If you’re pumped, then you should be reasonably capable of advancing from a 5K to a half marathon within six weeks. After viewing your calories expended, it’s imperative you replenish those you’ve burnt with whole foods.
– RELATED: TRAIN For HER’s Ultimate Marathon Kit List –
7. Power up for more gains
Use light-to-moderate-intensity resistance training 4-5 days a week to increase your strength and endurance. Anything more intense and your body will tire out too quickly and you’ll lack energy for practice runs. Rehearse uphill power walking as your ‘cardio’ for no more than 20-30 minutes.
And for treadmill users: don’t keep a death grip on the handles while doing your power walks. Proper posture and natural arm sway will increase your strength, improve your breathing and help you accumulate distance.
8. Run further, feel better
We all know, in this instance, that a 5K (3.1 miles) is the minimal starting point for you to be able to run a half marathon within six weeks. Try going about 1.75 miles further each week. Not sure exactly what that distance is? Invest in a quality app with GPS, verbal mile-markers and levels in progress.
9. Re-think your footwear
It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen a really cute pair of light-and-airy Nikes that look comfy. Consult with a podiatrist, discussing your intentions and goals, so that they can recommend a proper shoe for you or insert modifications into your current kicks to avoid any injuries.
10. Practice makes winners
It may take several half marathons to actually take home 1st or 2nd place but the very fact that you crossed the finish line injury-free and with a smile is reward enough. The average runner takes a few fast-pace walking breaks, anyway, during their race to get their heart rate under control.
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