Dec. 1 marked the registration opening for the fourth-annual Plattsburgh Half Marathon.
If you start now, you can give your body the time it needs to adapt to what lies ahead. There are many ways to train for an endurance race, but a few constants must be followed if you want to give your best on the day of the race. The main focuses should be progression, technique and rest in order to prevent injury to your body and reach your goals.
Wearing a decent pair of shoes is very important. Make sure you pick a pair that complements the arch of your foot and keeps your ankle neutral. If you start running without proper foot support, you will be setting yourself up for an injury in the near future. If you begin experiencing knee or back pain when running, try looking at the type of shoe you are wearing. This isn’t always the answer, but it can be a quick fix in some instances.
Proper form should be practiced from the beginning. If you ever change your form or posture while running, you most likely have to lower your mileage a bit to adapt to the new technique. If you don’t, the muscles that are used during the new technique will be overwhelmed. Some key points to good technique when running include keeping your chin level, shoulders back, chest up and back neutral. Keep your shoulders from hiking upwards toward your ears and your elbows set at or slightly less than 90 degrees. As for the lower body, make sure your foot strike is directly under your hips and as quiet as possible. If you tend to land more in front of your hips, you risk hamstring injury. These tips can be helpful, but honestly, it is difficult to really explain running form through a written article. The best thing to do is find a qualified coach who can teach you these types of patterns.
Planning an endurance routine really isn’t too hard. As stated earlier, one of the most important things to remember is to progress your mileage properly. Gradually increasing your mileage is a must. In order to handle the 13.1 miles, you must begin increasing the length of time your body can handle running. Start out slow and go for time at first; do less than 15 minutes if you are a beginner or 15 to 30 minutes if you are more advanced. Your first run of the season should be casual. Make sure you are dressed appropriately, and be sure to stay hydrated. Increase your total mileage by about 10 percent each week. Beginners should start at two to three training sessions a week and build up to three to five times a week. If you feel that an injury is starting to develop, don’t push through it; see a doctor, and get it fixed before it becomes worse.
Rest is a huge part of endurance training. It is important to give your body the recovery time it needs to bounce back from the workout. Running can cause a lot of wear and tear on the body when first starting out due to the lack of form that many begin with. As the body adapts over time and you increase the quality of your running technique, you won’t need as much recovery time. I suggest lowering your weekly mileage every four to six weeks for one week, so that your body has time to build back up. This is a great way to actively nurse any aches and pains you may have. You can cut this down to 50 percent of your previous week, then build back up to and beyond your maximum mileage.
Running is an art as well as a science. It takes time to recognize how your body adapts to running. The inclusion of progression, technique and rest into your training program is essential. How fast you progress, what to change in your technique and the amount of rest you need become the variables that you must learn to feel and incorporate.
Ted Santaniello, CSCS, is a certified personal trainer and the fitness manager at the Wellness Center at PARC, located at 295 New York Road (next to ARC) in Plattsburgh.