Hello! I start this post by thanking you for your interest. I made it with all running enthusiasts in mind, from beginners to athletes.
I am also an avid runner. I have competed in half marathons (13.6 miles) and triathlons (swim, bike, and run). I am also a registered nutritionist (RDN).
I admit that, throughout my journey in this discipline, I have made an enormous number of mistakes that I want to share with you so that you do not fall into them. I will also tell you how you can overcome them.
Use this content as a guide on what to do and what to avoid when it comes to running. I would have liked to have had it when I started, but hey, we don't all start at the same point, right?
A road that started with some bumps
I have always run, but I never saw it as a hobby . At first I did it more like cardio to keep the extra calories from the weekend at bay.
I didn't time myself or prepare for a race. Running was more integrated into my strength training program. Looking back, I realize that at that point I never had any injuries.
As time went by, I fell in love with running . I dedicated myself to it because it helped me release stress and forget about problems.
I abandoned strength training (the biggest mistake I've made in this field) and focused solely on running and increasing my distance. I thought, like many runners , that having muscles would make me slower and heavier.
In retrospect, I wish I had researched how to run the right way to avoid injury. But I was young, I thought I was invincible and I knew everything. I just ran every day or on the weekends.
When I became a full-time intern to finish my nutrition degree, I didn't have much time to train. It was much easier for me to do shorter weekday runs and play weekend warrior, running a longer distance to offset my goal of running 10 to 20 miles a week, not knowing I was harming my body.
With my busy schedule, I didn't make time to strengthen my muscles and protect my knees. I wish I had known that a simple 10-15 minute routine (before or between my runs), 2-3 times a week, would have saved me the hours and money I had to spend on physical therapy. What they say is true, you learn when it hurts your pocket and time.
As the years went by, I ended up with an injury known as “runners knee.” It was the worst pain I have ever felt. Not even dancing professionally or playing soccer made me suffer so much.
It cost me a race that I had planned months ago. I had to take 2 to 4 months off to fully recover. I wasn't doing physical therapy yet, but I was using support sleeves on my left knee (where it all started).
Little by little, I began to incorporate resistance training to strengthen my muscles around my knees.
We runners tend to have weak glutes and hamstrings. As I did not know, I only focused on my quadriceps with squats and leg extensions, when what I should have been doing a comprehensive workout that included all the muscles equally, especially those that are not used when you run.
I also suffered several injuries because I overtrained, without listening to my body screaming to give it time to rest and recover. It all ended in countless rehabilitation sessions.
And I started taking steps in the right direction
The experience taught me to be more conscious in my practice and I understood that I had to change things.
So, I began to include a series of actions in my training that helped me evolve in this discipline.
I'm going to share them with you so you have a reference. If you dare to practice them, you will soon notice the results.
- Stretching : restorative yoga, 1 or 2 times a week, on your recovery days (when you don't train). Yoga stretches the entire body and strengthens the pelvic floor and core.
- Resistance training : classic pilates, 1 to 2 times a week, on days you do short distances or those you don't run.
- Weight training at home or in the gym: 2 times a week. Focus on the lower body including the hamstrings, glutes, quads and calves, combined with functional movement that utilizes your core. You can use dumbbells or resistance bands.
- Running : 3 to 4 times a week depending on the 4 variables: distance, duration, intensity and pavement. I would only change 10% and base it on tolerance.
You can do several things about the duration. I would set a timer for 15 minutes. I would walk/run in those 15 minutes, but I would keep the same walking and running pace.
After a week or two, it would increase by 10%. I would run more and walk less. When you can run at the same speed for 15 minutes, I would progress to 17 minutes and so on until you reach 3-4 miles straight.
Tip: Based on your goals, do what feels most comfortable and gives you the best results. And always listen to your body. If you feel pain, stop, DON'T FORCE IT!
To run faster and safer, you must learn to eat
Now I'm going to talk to you about my favorite topic: food and nutritional supplements.
If you eat a balanced diet and make sure you eat the recommended amount of protein, fiber, fruits and, above all, vegetables, you don't need to take any supplements.
But let's be honest: how many people do you know who eat really healthy and balanced 80% of the time?
Furthermore, when you train at 100% your body becomes stressed, to such a level that the absorption of vitamins and minerals is decreased. The same goes for stress and lack of sleep which are common denominators these days.
That's when supplementation is a smart strategy, because it would help you achieve the precise levels of nutrients your body needs to function optimally.
Common dietary practices that every runner should avoid
Many runners make some mistakes when it comes to eating that become their biggest obstacles. I'm going to mention four of the most common ones.
I will also tell you how supplements can boost you to achieve superior results.
- All you eat is carbohydrates
We agree. Consuming carbohydrates is essential because they are your main source of energy.
But if your goal is to stay at a healthy weight or you want to lose pounds, you should reduce your consumption of pasta, bread and cereals. Replace them with more natural and less refined carbohydrates such as rice, quinoa, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
It is also extremely important that you include enough protein in your diet to prevent excessive training from eating away at your muscles.
Eating fish, at least once a week, will be especially beneficial because in addition to providing you with good doses of protein, it is a great source of minerals such as iron, zinc, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus or potassium, all important when doing intense exercises.
If it is a mission impossible for you, you can use an omega-3 supplement that helps reduce your inflammation levels and protect your joints.
And whether you eat meat, chicken or fish, you might also want to have a supplement like our 100% Whey on hand to help you build and maintain your toned muscles and recover faster after your workouts.
It is ideal that you use it on days when you go running very early and you don't want to go on an empty stomach.
- Your vegetables are just the accompaniment
Rather than seeing vegetables as a companion to your dishes occupied mainly by carbohydrates, you should give them a more leading role in your diet to guarantee all the vitamins, minerals and fiber you need.
Remember that when you train at high levels of intensity, your immune system is compromised. And if you don't get the required nutrients, you will end up getting sick and having to stop your workouts.
- You think being a runner allows you to eat whatever you want
Running alone burns about 100 calories per mile, no matter how fast you run.
If you ran 10 miles, that means you burned approximately 1,000 calories. But that doesn't mean you can eat a burger and fries combo or half a chocolate cake.
I don't want to tell you with this that from time to time you can't indulge yourself, but try to make it not the usual thing.
Instead, focus on nourishing your body with quality, unprocessed foods. Remember that we are what we eat.
- Drink coffee without stopping
Caffeine has many benefits. Among them, increasing performance and helping to restore glycogen, which supplies you with the energy you need to go running again.
But if you are a beginner, you should know that we all metabolize caffeine differently.
While taking it regularly can be an ergogenic aid (enhancing your ability), it could also make its effects less potent on race day.
Additionally, excess can affect your sleep and, therefore, your recovery. If you notice that you are sleeping fewer hours per night, lower the dose and consume it before 3 in the afternoon.
Like any other sport, running can make you fall in love.
But remember that love is blind and if you don't keep your eyes open to the requirements it demands to practice it effectively and safely, you can crash into the pavement for miles before becoming a true runner .
The more information you get about the topic, the less you will get lost along the way. Also if you maintain balance in your diet and discipline in your training. And if you rely on supplementation, you will be able to reach your goal faster.