Running And Racing Basics: Tips For Hydrating And Hitting The Finish Line Without Injury

When you are training and running races, you need to strategize carefully when it comes to hydration and avoiding injuries. A few simple steps incorporated throughout your training and race can have a big impact on your performance and give you the opportunity to finish strong.

 

Plan ahead regarding hydration

 

Adequate hydration is key to running success. Your intake during the race is important, but fluids during training, before the race, and after the finish matter, too. Family Doctor explains that hydration keeps your body temperature regulated, and without proper hydration, you may experience dizziness, cramps, or other issues.

 

The first step to staying hydrated is to pre-hydrate by drinking about 20 ounces of fluids (about 2 ½ full glasses’ worth) a couple of hours before your run. Drink 5 to 10 ounces every 15-20 minutes along the route and take in plenty of fluids after the finish to re-hydrate. A good rule of thumb for post-race hydration is to weigh yourself before and after the run and then drink about 16 ounces, or two glasses of water, for each pound you lose during the race.

 

Consider easy ways to add a boost and keep it convenient

 

Many experts recommend utilizing sports drinks for some or all of your fluid intake. These drinks replace sodium that you lose as you sweat and they provide carbohydrates, calories, electrolytes, and potassium to boost your muscle power and performance.

 

Some runners wear fluid belts to keep fluids handy while others find that relying on aid stations along a race course provides what they need. A hydration vest works well for some people, and during training or short races it may work to simply keep a water bottle with you.

 

Set yourself up for success with the right equipment and pre-race preparations

 

Another important component to safe racing is using the right equipment. You don’t want to run races in brand-new shoes, notes Training Peaks, or you risk getting blisters and injuries. Instead, get new running shoes shortly before the race and do two or three training runs in them to ensure they fit properly.

 

The rest of your race day outfit is also important, as chafing and blistering can ruin a race. Avoid cotton and go for lightweight materials like Lycra, polyester, and nylon that are breathable and will wick away moisture. Look for shirts, shorts, and socks in materials designed for exercise and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

 

Running a safe race includes doing some stretches and a warm-up before the race begins. Dynamic stretches that mimic how your muscles and connective tissues work while running are a great way to prepare for your run. Try some forward, side, or back lunges along with some hamstring stretches to start, and then put in a few minutes of warm-up running. Start the race slowly and keep an eye on your pacing to avoid running out of steam late in the race.

 

As you finish one race, set your sights on the next

 

Once you complete some short races, you may itch to do longer ones. Before tackling a long run like a marathon, you should have some solid running experience, including some mid-length races. Training for longer races takes a serious time commitment, so be sure your lifestyle can accommodate the hours needed to prepare properly.

 

You may find marathons and half-marathons in your area to try, but many runners travel for races when they move up to longer lengths. Talk to other local runners about where they’ve traveled for races and, most importantly, which ones were worth the trip.

 

Many runners are drawn to racing once they get a few miles under their belts. However, it is important to strategize to avoid injuries. Hydration is critical and choosing the right shoes and clothing helps you stay safe and avoid injuries. Once you’ve nailed down the basics, plenty of longer races are available to try if you find yourself itching for the next race.

 

Author: Jason Lewis

 

[Image via Pixabay]

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