5K Training Tips: Improving Fitness

It’s week 7 and there are so many wonderful testimonials of morning workouts, evening workouts, new sneakers, lost inches, weight loss and overall well being!  So excited for this journey we are on together. Let’s keep moving forward!

It is important to discuss safety and injury prevention because we don’t want anything to derail our fitness.  This new lifestyle is a “marathon” and not a “sprint” so don’t feel like you have to overdo it or push too hard. Our goal is to be working out injury free for decades so there really is plenty of time to breathe and enjoy the ride.

To quote Mitchel Hollis from his book The 5K Challenge, “most injuries are caused by too much of one thing and too little of another.”  Typically too much includes going out too fast, or too often, or having too many miles on your sneaker, and too little might include things like too little stretching, too little recovery between workouts, too little strength training. Experts agree that after a workout your body will need rest. That’s why returning exercisers work out every other day rather than multiple days in a row.

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Two common challenges that face new walkers and runners young and old are shin splints and side stitches.  Here are some tips on overcoming these two common annoyances.

Shin splints can be the result of too little stretching of the calf muscle, and running on old sneakers that are old or broken down.  As soon as you experience any different sensations in the ankles, knees, back, or hips, replace your sneakers and that little ache should vanish!  As a newly returning walker or runner, it’s also helpful to vary the terrain for your workout. For example, macadam is easier on your body than concrete, and a dirt trail is easier than a treadmill or macadam. Mixing up your workouts will keep you from getting bored, and be a good change for your muscles and joints.  

Side stitches have been related to increasing lung capacity during speed work, races etc. There are some theories that they are related to what you eat pre-workout so avoid eating at least one hour before and don’t’ consume too much fiber at that meal or snack. Sometimes you may be able to minimize a side stitch by a proper warm up, doing a side stretch or exhaling forcefully, but most likely you will find yourself running through the discomfort if it is a training workout or race.  Side stitches tend to decrease in frequency as your body strengthens and your diaphragm gets use to the new effort. It is okay and somewhat expected to run through some discomfort but pain is not okay. If you feel pain on any part of your body, use rest, ice and consult with your doctor (or other runners) for good ideas for treatment and prevention.

Click here for information on calf stretches from Runners World

For week 7 of 12, increase your training this week by increasing your running time each of the 3 days.   Warm up with a brisk 5 minute walk, alternate 5 minutes of jogging with 60 seconds of walking at least 3 times and even 4 if you have the time. End with 5 minutes of relaxed walking to cool down walk.  Stretch total 35-40 minutes.

Feel free to ask a question or comment on this blog.  All comments are reviewed so your privacy is intact if you wish. Until next week!

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