Tips to Staying Healthy as a Runner

Stay Hydrated
This should be at the top of every human’s (runner or not) list of tips to stay healthy. Water is to your body like oil is to a car engine, except water escapes your body daily and needs to be replenished daily. Without water, your body WILL NOT perform at it’s highest. You won’t run as smoothly, feel as good while you’re running, recover as quick, recover as fully for the next run, etc. Gatorade, in my experience, is good too, but only if you’re losing a lot of fluids and need electrolytes replaced often. The main point is that the importance of drinking plenty of water can’t be overstated.

Stretching is something most runners do, but fewer do it correctly. When done correctly, it can prevent injuries, help keep you limber, and keep you from getting sore. Stretching before running never really helped me at all. I much prefer to stretch once I’m warmed up and then when I’m done. Stretching once my muscles are warm loosens everything up and makes the entire run more enjoyable. Once I’m done, stretching helps prevent stiffness and soreness directly after and delayed onset muscle soreness in the following days.

Don’t increase your mileage too quickly. I learned this the hard way very recently. I got some new shoes and was feeling fantastic. I went from 2-3 miles per run to a 7-10 miles per run within a month. It resulted in ankle impingement. Take your time. Build a solid foundation and you will reduce your risk for injury greatly. The health class I just finished up recommended increasing workouts by 10% every week. Following that rule, put in 10 miles one week, then only increase to 11 miles the next week. It’s slower, but the goal is that you won’t have to deal with breaks due to injury.

This ties in with staying hydrated. In high school as a cross country and track runner, I ate anything and everything. I look back now in disbelief that I didn’t have more injuries and issues. Now that I’m older, I can’t misuse my body. As a runner, I stay away from fried foods, soda, and too much sugar. They aid me in no way in my training. I tend to eat a lot more when I’m training too. Runners need fuel to rebuild their bodies after intense workouts. Proteins and carbs are incredibly important. Salt isn’t necessarily a bad thing (within boundaries) since you lose so much through sweat. Another tip is to eat smaller meals before going on a run. I tend to eat a small meal and then leave at least an hour before a workout. It helps keep away cramps and upset stomachs. Then I eat a larger meal afterwords.

All you runners- What are some tips I missed?