It’s always nice to start the New Year with a clean slate…a new beginning. The New Year provides hope, promise and a chance to make necessary changes to improve our lives.
It’s also an opportunity to assess our fitness goals and identify the greatest opportunity for improvement. As a marathon running coach for nearly 18 years, I see trends in runners of all abilities. Nutrtition, flexibility and core strength are the areas most neglected.
Nutrition is often neglected because it can be very confusing and people just surrender to doing the best they can. Proper nutrition requires planning and discipline, which can be extremely challenging with our fast-paced lives. Consuming a well-balanced and healthy breakfast is the best way to start each day. Skipping breakfast produces low-blood sugar and causes temptations to consume foods high in sugar and fat. Eating smaller meals composed of nutrient rich foods throughout the day helps to regulate blood sugar and minimize the tempation to eat unhealthy foods. Minimizing large meals late in the day is also helpful in avoiding excess weight. Running at the ideal weight for your body structure will help reduce impact and injury.
Flexibility diminishes as we age. Not stretching after a run can exacerbate tightness and create imbalance in running specific muscles-leading to inefficent running and injury. Every run can seem so challenging and it feels so good to just do nothing afterwards. Develop a plan to change into comfortable clothes upon finishing a run, eat and hydrate immediately and transition into your stretching program and you will immediately enjoy the rewards. Spending 15 minutes thoroughly and properly stretching will improve your running economy and minimize injuries.
Having a strong core improves general posture and provides a strong center of gravity. This allows for easier breathing and maintaing proper form throughout a run. A weak core manifests itself in inefficient running economy, requiring major running muscles to work harder than necessary and increasing the risk of injury.
Developing a sound plan for these 3 key areas will yield a significant return on your investment of time. Successful running involves so much more than running. Piecing this puzzle together to fit your lifestyle and running goals should be a top priority in 2013.
I hope that your New Year is filled with great health, hope and inspiration!