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Top 4 Training Tips for Runners in Omaha

Regardless of what our weather is doing in Omaha, we’ve got runners in our city and getting better at running is a challenge.

You might think they’re crazy…

You might be envious of their ability to get outside and be active…

Or, you might be a runner wanting to get better at running…

No matter what part of your running journey you’re on, there are many ways to make you a better, and more durable, runner!  Today is part 1 of a 4 part series on how you can train to become a better, stronger, and more durable runner.


Part 1 — The Warm Up

Yes… those dreaded words:  warm up.

Seriously though, have you ever wondered to yourself…

  • Why does the first 10 minutes of my run feel awful?
  • Why is everything sore until I am farther into my run?
  • Or maybe, why do I keep having chronic pain in my calves, my knees, my IT band, or my hips?  What about my feet?

Well, did you forget to get moving before you got moving?  Or maybe “forgot” is too strong a word…

To understand these questions, we need to dive a little deeper.  Let’s go from bottom to top:


Why Do I Have Chronic Pain While Running?

Do not forget that running is a high impact sport.  You are taking all of your body weight and putting into one side of your body, then the other side of your body, and with a little jump in between.

And no, those expensive cushioned running shoes are not necessarily the solution to your problem.

While there are a multitude of issues with going from nothing to running, here is one of the more apparent ones:  all of your muscles, ligaments, and tendons are cold, tight, and susceptible to strains and sprains because they haven’t done anything until you got up and started running.  A really quality way to mitigate this is by spending 5-10min warming up.

This is usually done progressively but here are some examples for you to put into your toolbox:

  • The Perfect Stretch (view that HERE)
  • Calf raises to walking calf raises
  • Stretch kicks or leg swings (depends on what you call them)
  • Jumping jacks
  • Skipping — yes, just like in school (that was just me?)
  • The list goes on…

One thing you will notice is there is no static stretching where you are holding any one position for a long length of time.  That is for AFTER your run.

These movements, most or all of them, are examples of great ways to get your whole body ready for your run!


Endorphins

A lot of runners cite their endorphin rush as to one of the reasons they love running.  It’s also partly why the first few minutes of your run feel rather awful before you feel good.

One thing endorphins do is block physical pain.

I enjoy Simon Sinek’s take on endorphins:

When you laugh, you convulse your internal organs.  This is convulsing of your internals organs is coupled with an endorphin release which is why laughing feels so good!  You have undoubtedly laughed for so long that your endorphins wear off and you begin to think, “please stop, it hurts!”

So how do you shorten that curve?  By warming up, of course!

When you start to move around, gradually at first with a building of intensity, you prepare your body [and your hormones] for the task at hand.  This will shorten, and possibly eliminate, that junky feeling before those good feelings.

As if you needed a third reason to warm up…


The “Second Wind”

While this phenomenon is a wee bit different for each person, the principle stays the same:  you will be moving right along and feel like you can’t catch your breath.  Then, after a while, your breath is just “there!”

The explanation lies in what you’re asking your body to do [and no surprise, how much time you’re giving it].

You can go from “not exercising” to “exercising” at the snap of a finger.  Your metabolism doesn’t perform like that, however.  In fact, when we used to perform metabolic assessments we would plan for this by warming people up, giving them a short rest, and then performing the actual assessment.

While there are a lot of different things at play here, one of those things is that your “exercise metabolism” could take 10-15 minutes to catch up to your exercise.  That feeling, in the interim, is likely why you feel like you can’t breathe until you get a ways into your run.


Moral of the Story?

Get yourself warmed up.

  • Move around in a progressive manner — gentle full range of motion movements to more high impact things similar to what you’re about to do
  • Let yourself have some time after the warm up — pause, get mentally prepared, and enjoy those endorphins and warm muscles without your aches, pains, and initial loss of breathing
  • Have fun!

This next one is a personal favorite of mine — no music, no podcast, no books, no nothing.  Enjoy the noises of the outdoors, enjoy your breathing, and learn to be present in your thoughts.  This is a chance for you to live in the moment.

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