Since we kicked off #RUNCHELSEA last month, we have found ourselves lacing up and hitting the streets for a run more than ever. And now we know that you are too, we thought we would put together a few of our favourite running tips to share and hopefully with it, inspire those who are still stuck in a running rut, to lace up and give it a go (who knows, a couch to 5km could just be around the corner for you).
Read on for our Guide to Running including top tips to prepare for a run, what music to run to, the best stretches for running and more… after all, if Forrest Gump can do it, then so can you.
Preparing for a Run
What foods to eat before a run
We’ve split this into two sections: short run snacks and longer run foods (more like marathons).
The main point to take away from eating prior to a run or workout is that the most important fuelling you can do is consuming some form of carbohydrate as it will fuel you and your muscles for longer.
Carbohydrates are key as they are stored within your liver and muscles as glycogen; the body’s main source of energy during a run. Whilst it’s important to know which types of carbs are best (or not so good), we always suggest discovering what works for you first. This list of good v.s bad carbohydrates is helpful.
If you are planning a short run as in below 1 hour, you’re better off having a small snack about 30+ minuets prior to your run. Our favourite carbohydrate snack suggestions are:
Whole-Grain Banana Bread – One with a great balance of fast-burning carbohydrates (banana itself) and slow-burning carbohydrates. A slice or two of banana bread is a perfect snack before a run. Alternatively bananas by themselves are great powerfoods. Full of potassium, they will help muscle functionality and provide enough natural sugars to last the run.
High Fibre Oats – Although associated with breakfast, oats are great anytime of the day if you are working out. If you’re having with milk, you’ll need to make sure you’re waiting 30+ minutes, as milk in particular can really affect you stomach whilst running. In any form of exercise your body looks to burn simple carbohydrates and sugars first. Fibre is a slower burning energy source and the idea is to burn fat quicker during running, once you lower your intake in starchy/sugary based foods.
Longer Running tips
Without listing a load of delish meal ideas – because let’s be honest, we’d be here forever as there are so many good ones – we’ve listed the best foods to apply to a balanced post-run meal.
Meats, Fish & Eggs – Nothing should be a wild surprise here but Chicken, Mackerel, Salmon, Organic Eggs and Turkey Breasts are great protein bases of a bigger meal. All low in saturated fat, they are the best options we tend to reach for when we know we are trying to stick to good-quality proteins with a small side of carbs and chock-full of fresh salad or veggies
Carbohydrate / Main Side – Wholewheat pasta, sweet potato, couscous, brown rice and quinoa are our favourite sides. It’s worth a special mention to quinoa which is the “superfood” amongst the group. Similar to couscous in many ways, quinoa contains a great source of magnesium, but more importantly a very low level of fat content. Overcoming the typical shortcomings of grains, quinoa qualifies as a “superfood” due to it’s high overall level of nourishment.
Vegetables – Every active girl needs to learn to love her vegetables. Your greens are important as they provide the basis to optimal nourishment in the most healthiest way possible.. And once you learn to kazz them up, there really are endless ways to eat them. Mix and match any of the following: Broccoli, Spinach, Carrots, Lentils, Leeks, Kale, Cauliflower, Beetroot (superfood of 2016 I hear) and Tomatoes.
Although it’s suggested to eat more “traditional” carbohydrate based foods for optimal performance, here are some fruits which are great snack alternatives…
Oranges – One orange averages out at about less than 70 calories. Rich in Vitamin C, which is proven to aide the repairing of muscles during and post exercise. Not the best performance based food but a great way of putting hunger at bay.
Dried Fruit i.e. Dates– The ultimate quick snack, dried fruits are full of natural sugars and as a result packed with awesome instant carbohydrates. With other extras inside i.e. potassium, they aid muscles recovery as well. Just be conscious of over-eating them and stick to suggested single service size per pack.
Apples – How did the saying go… “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” An average sized apple is less than 100 calories, and bonus being quite filling also. Try a nice cut up, juicy one with nut butter on the side. A perfect pre-run snack.
What to wear for a run
Well if there’s one thing we know… it’s fit, fashionable activewear for running! We know our brands and styles are the best as we have spent years piecing together looks for our customers. You can get a taste of our top style picks in our running activewear category. We look for a balance of style and performance when it comes to running wear so we are comfortable stride for stride. When piecing together your look, we suggest starting with a supportive sports bra, followed by a moisture-wicking tank and high waisted leggings in either ⅞ or full length.
This is the most critical element to piecing together your running look. A sports bra that is every inch supportive is paramount to ensure your are held in and supported for the entire duration of your run. Look for a racerback or t-back style to offer free range of movement and comfort. Adjustable straps where possible will allow you to customise fit whilst compression and lifting in all the right areas. Removable padding offers additional shape to the bust also. A maximum support sports bra is essential. If you are a bigger bust, look to layer up a seamless crop top style with a maximum style.
In terms of fabrics we look for lightweight, breathable styles with feature mesh panelling. This provides great flexibility and range of movement with 4-way stretch, as well as moisture-wicking properties to keep you cool and dry. We understand runners’ needs and as result only ever offer styles we’d personally wear and workout in. Key features to look for in your running leggings are either a drawstring waistband or high waisted style (preventing that all-too familiar falling down feeling). Additional features can include internal pockets for keys and cash, reflective paneling for running at night as well as zips on the back of ankles for added flexibility in movement.
There are lot of similarities to be applied when picking out your new running tank or top. With a focus on performance based fabrics that breathe and wick moisture, but also look cute. Fabrics that are durable for the long haul must be lightweight and breathable.
Style tip: opt for an oversized tank layered up with a brightly coloured sports bra.
The brands we turn to when we piecing together our running outfit is Lorna Jane, 2XU, Adidas, Under Armour, and Running Bare.
Stretches to do before a run
With stretching it’s best to do a brisk walk or 5 minute run before stretching. This allows an increase of blood flow around your body and muscles respond better to the stretching.
There’s two types of stretching; dynamic and static. There will always be a great debate about which is best, but this case study shares a great insight into dynamic stretching.
The difference between the two? Dynamic stretching encourages movements to take your muscles and joints through their full motion. Whereas static stretching is standing still and holding your muscle/joints for an extended period of time (better for warm downs).
We would suggest starting with this one. Plant one leg on the ground and swing the other back and forth. This warms up all the lower muscles and loosens up those joints.
Plant one foot in front of you, bending at a 90% angle. Whilst your trailing leg keeps relatively straight but bent. Hold for a second or two, with your torso upwards, keep as straight as possible. Then using the other leg follow the momentum through to stand up. And repeating the process. Stretches your hamstrings and quads.
Side stretch from standing position
Standing upright and keeping your back as straight as possible throughout the process. Raise your arms overhead and lean to one side. Perfect for working over your hips and abdominal muscles.
Best when you find a step. Plant both feet at the edge of the step (make it the bottom one!) facing the steps. And with about a ⅔ of your feet overlapping the step. Elevate on your tiptoes in a lifting motion and lower slightly below the step. You should feel a strong stretch of your calf muscles.
Music is the best motivator when running. We’ve got you covered on that one with our top picks for the always asked question, “What are some Good Running Songs?” We refresh our soundtrack on spotify every few weeks, so come follow it here & get running.
Feeling the afterburn
As mentioned in our piece The Benefits of Running?
“To get the afterburn you need the intensity of your runs/workouts to get your body producing 70% of your breathing VO2 Max. In a nutshell when you’re finishing up your session, if you’re not breathing harder than usual you’re not maximising the afterburn.”
Best stretches after a run
After a run it’s best to make the last 5 minutes of the journey a slower pace. Slowing right down to a walk. This will contribute to your warm down and preparing your body for final stretching…
Kneeling hip flexor and hamstring
Put one leg in front of the other bend your back leg down to the ground (however not touching). Keep you upper body upright and slightly lean your body to the front knee. You should feel your hamstring stretching and change legs after holding for 10-20 seconds.
From a standing position, find a wall and place one hand pressed against the wall for balance. Bend your knee of one of your legs and grab the top of your foot. Keeping balanced hold your foot behind your glute and hold for 10-15 seconds. This should completely stretch out your quads. Once safely placing your foot to the ground, switch legs and repeat.
Whilst standing, place on foot in front of the other crossed legged. Lean your upper body forward to touch your toes. You should feel a great stretch on the back calf. Hold for 10-15 seconds and change legs once complete.
What food to eat after a run
At this point we’d love to say eat what you want, you deserve it. But to be honest there’s a hint of truth to that one. The most important thing initially after a run is to up your fluids. Obviously water being the key here but also light milk smoothies or shakes are good. Meal wise opt for a healthy meal which is going to fill you up with a strong balance of protein, carbs and loads of veggies. Some of the superfoods mentioned above will help muscles repair quicker.
Need inspiration? We always turn to these books for a little post-meal nourishment inspo. Lean in 15 by Jo Wicks and Ready, Steady, Glow by Madeline Shaw.
So there you have it, a brief little overview on what we like to do when it comes to getting prepared for a run. The key is to always be fuelled up with nutrient-rich foods that make your feel strong and confident in your run. Secondly, what you wear matters; a bad outfit can ruin your game and put you off, so picking running styles that are comfortable and perform well are essential, also fashionable! Investing in a great pair of leggings and maximum support sports bra is a non-negotiable. Inspiration in the form of great music to push you harder, better, faster, stronger, and consequently, across that finish line…. And lastly, your desire to prove to yourself that running really is the best therapy. See you at the finish line!