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Preparing for the race

Running is one of the simplest ways to make physical activity a regular part of your life. When compared to other types of physical activity, running has a number of distinct advantages, but the biggest one is that you can run anytime and anywhere. Here are some health benefits of running that might inspire you to start training today.

Running


Running is healthy for joints. Even though running carries a certain risk of injury, scientists claim that running is actually very healthy for joints. There is clear evidence that running prevents osteoarthritis.

Running helps with weight loss. Running is an ideal sport for burning extra calories. It is the most popular and the most efficient way to burn fat deposits.

Running protects the bones and the muscle mass. Running builds up muscles and increases bone density.

Aerobic exercises protect the heart. Studies have shown that regular aerobic exercise can simultaneously increase the level of good cholesterol and lower the level of the bad one. If you’re taking medication to treat high blood pressure, running will improve its effect, especially if the body is not reacting to the prescription as it should.

Running strengthens immunity. In time, your body will become stronger and more resilient to cold, flue and allergies. Also, running has a great effect on fatigue and pain reduction.

Running improves concentration and memory. Running can improve your mental functions by increasing the blood flow to the brain. Whilst running, the brain will be receiving a higher amount of oxygen and nutrients, which will automatically make you more productive.

Running strengthens the lungs. Once you decide to start running, you will be experiencing shortness of breath quite often. However, the longer you run, your lungs will become stronger and you won't get breathless any more.

Medical examination


Before you start running, it's necessary to undergo a medical examination that will estimate your physical ability.

Training


Regardless of your goal and abilities, the main principle of every running program should be developing a solid aerobic base. The aerobic base is formed by running long distance, but with slow tempo.
In order to prepare for the half-marathon race, an average human needs 12 weeks. In our running school „Trk“, we have predicted that 15 weeks would be sufficient for everyone, even for the people that have never run before. What we recommend to all the beginners is to train three times a week, with the length of two training sessions being 3 to 5 kilometers and the third session being long-distance. Since the races usually take place on Sunday, we practice running long distance on that very day so our bodies could adjust to running long distance on Sundays.
The long-distance training kicks off with the 3/5 kilometer route, with its length being increased every week by 1/2 kilometers. In the fifth week of our running program, we practice reducing the length by approximately 5 kilometers.
That fifth training session takes place in the so called rest week, when the beginners train by combining running and walking. However, in no more than two weeks, the newcomers will get in shape, thus becoming able to run even the longest distance.
In that moment when you push the Sunday length to 17-18 km, you will know that you're ready to run your first half-marathon.

Slow down

When talking about the elite runners, especially about the Kenyan athletes, the basic structure of their training program is running with slow and slowing-down tempo, which makes 85% of the program.
Mo Farah runs approximately 190 km a week, out of which 80% is run with slow tempo. This may not be the image of Superman athlete which many envision, but it's certain that we can learn a lot from his approach.
The speed of running is what most of the recreational runners don’t understand. Running with slow tempo doesn’t satisfy most of the runners because they feel this tempo is not strenuous enough for their training. That's why they often start running with medium tempo, pretending that they're, in fact, running with the slow one. This way of running doesn't allow any conversation whatsoever and what's more, it leads to shortness of breath, sweating and facial redness. All of these reactions are signs that it's necessary to slow down. It's actually quite hard to run with slow tempo or to be more precise, to run in the aerobic zone with approximately 70% of the maximal heart rate. The runners must slow down to that level that it seems as if they're not going anywhere.
In time, usually after couple of weeks, the body will adapt, the tempo will naturally accelerate under equal effort. At the same time, a super-efficient engine for fat depletion will develop. This rhythm is the only way to build a solid ground for a successful training program.
The beginners should focus on gradually increasing the time they can spend running, as well as maintaining continuity. The training outset is not the time when you should think through the speed or the tempo. For starters, what matters the most is to attune the body to pleasant running, but also to strengthen the immunity and develop a natural and efficient running tempo.
Regular slow running will prepare the organism for the tempo and intervals of quick running.
Studies have shown that at least 75% of all the world's runners, from beginners to the most advances ones, run way too quickly and way too often. By doing so, they fall into the so-called medium training zone, in which they don't affect neither the aerobic nor the anaerobic zone as they should. Most of the professional trainers avoid the medium zone. Instead, they recommend the combination of light and heavy training. This method is known as the polarized training.
Avoiding the medium-load training is the key to advancing in running.
The elite runners are primarily focused on the slow and the slowing-down tempo, with small doses of very heavy training, which at most makes up for 20% of the overall training volume.
This method enables the body to use the fat as the energy source more efficiently, as well as to recover more easily, thus providing the runners with more energy for the most strenuous training sessions.

Feel free to slow down significantly

Though it might seem to you that slowing down will be counterproductive, do it and you'll see for yourself that the result won't be missing, particularly in regards to running long distances. Faster isn't always better.
Esther Erb, American champion in the female competition, takes her training seriously and pays a great attention to slow running.
„By running with strong tempo what should be run with the slow one, runners show their insecurity. Slow running requires a lot more confidence than the fast one“, she believes. Erb runs light training sessions with speed ranging from 5 min/km to 5:40 min/km. This rhythm might sound way too fast for some, but take in account that Esther's race tempo is approximately 3:34 min/km.
Walk, if necessary. But slow down.

Nutrition


Before taking up any physical activity, the organism must be supplied with the sufficient amount of food so the body could have enough strength and energy for the training.
The purpose of eating before training is to maintain the sugar blood level. The ideal meal before just about any training is the one that consists of fat, carbohydrates and proteins in low-calorie portions.
Also, before and during the training, it's of utmost importance to keep the body hydrated with the sufficient amount of water. You shouldn't go to your training session hungry and thirsty. What's more, after every physical activity, it's highly advisable to regenerate the body with the sufficient amount of nutritious substances.

Three hours before training

The meal you'll have two or three hours before the training session shouldn't have more than 500 calories and it should consist primarily of carbohydrates. For instance, the meals with pasta or rice are a great choice for the meal two or three hour ahead of training.

Half an hour before training

The optimal snack before training should consist of carbohydrates (40-100 g) and a small amount of fat. This meal should be easily digestible, which goes for saying that you should avoid the groceries that contain larger amounts of vegetable fibers because they are often hard to digest.

Fifteen minutes before training

If you haven't eaten anything during the day, this meal should consist of easily digestible carbohydrates. Free sugars, which are free of vegetable fibers, can be easily digested and what's more, they will automatically equip your body with the sufficient amount of energy for the muscles.

After training

The meal you'll take after the training is the most important meal of the day. Proteins should be its major part, with meat being the ideal option along with beans, peas and lens being a solid alternative. The latest world's studies have discovered that carbohydrates help the body absorb proteins more easily.
Meals that combine vegetables, whole grains and proteins seem as the best source of all the necessary nutrients. Also, don't forget that good fat, such as olive oil, highly contribute to inflammation reduction.

Ideal meal

What and how much you'll eat is solely up to you. What we advise is to go for the meals that will feed you without making you stuffed. The consumption of salads and vegetables shouldn't be restricted. Whole rice and pasta should be consumed in moderate amounts, whereas the amount of meat you'll intake during one daily meal shouldn't be larger than the size of your two palms.

What to wear


Apart from adjusting to the season, the main criterion for choosing the appropriate training wardrobe should be comfort.
What you wear will certainly affect the complexity of your training session.

Sneakers

For any type of running, the shoes play a major factor. It all starts from the feet. Your sneakers must be flexible and designated for running. By running in ordinary sneakers, you will expose yourself to the risk of light injuries.
Every time your feet touches the ground, the ankle, the knees and the back joints are exposed to pressure that is four times larger than your weight. Sports shoes amortize that pressure by lowering the adhesion of every step. The sneakers for running should be light and comfortable.

Wardrobe

If you're running in the summer period, you should wear short pants, but make sure you choose the ones that don't squeeze you. For the topside, you should choose a cotton T-shirt that absorbs the sweat and enables the skin to normally evaporate during the training. If you're running in the evening, you should layer your outfit so you could take a clothing piece or two off in case it gets hot.
Besides a T-shirt, you could also wear either a cotton sweater or any other piece of clothing that retains the body warmth and allows your skin to breathe. The clothing required for walking is usually way too warm for running because after a couple of hundred meters, the body starts to warm up. That's why it's advisable to wear light clothes.

Running in winter conditions

Layering your clothing is a tried-and-true way to maximize your comfort during the winter period. The running pants should be long, made out of a warm material and not too tight. Hats and gloves are very important, as well, because without them, you can easily get cold and become sensitive to all sorts of viruses and diseases.
If you get way too hot during running, you can take off the gloves, but the hat or at least a headband must stay on your head during the whole training session because the body loses most of its heat energy via head. The general rule when it comes to running in winter is “the more the body is covered, the better”.

Protection of the respiratory system

Depending on the sensitivity of the respiratory system, it's advisable to wear scarves around the neck during winter training sessions. If your bronchi start causing pain at any time during the run, you should cover your mouth with a scarf of any kind.
By doing so, the air you'll inhale will get warmer, thus decreasing the pain. Anyhow, whilst running or walking, you should breathe through nose.

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