Lunden Souza: Three tips for keeping runners on the right road

By Lunden SouzaOctober 25, 2013 

One of my favorite types of physical activity is running. There really isn’t anything else like it. I like to unwind, sort out my thoughts, appreciate life, enjoy my surroundings and just go when I hit the road.

I am not a super-long-distance runner. I have done two half-marathons and countless 5K and 10K runs. I run about three to six miles three to four days a week. I run because I want to, not because I have to. So this week I decided to share three tips for all of my fellow runners out there.

First, know your gear. Whether you are running trails, on the road, in the sand, on the grass, uphill or downhill, you should definitely be thinking about your footwear. Some people like very minimal footwear to run in, while others like a more supportive and cushioned shoe.

Whatever your preference, you need to know what shoe is right for you. Running often can be difficult on your body, especially if you don’t start with the right foundation. I get asked this question a lot, but it’s really very subjective.

You need to make sure that you research your shoes, know what you’re buying and realize that this might take a little bit of time.

For example, I really liked the shoes I ran my first half marathon in better than the pair I used in my second half marathon. Through trial and error, I know what shoe I will run my third half-marathon in. Most importantly, don’t choose a shoe just because you like the color, style or even brand.

Shoes are critical for runners and require an investment of time, thought and research to find the right pair. Don’t hesitate to spend a bit more money to get what’s right for you.

Second, mix up the terrain. I noticed I was having a lot of knee pain when I was running a lot on the sidewalk. Sidewalk is convenient to run on because it’s everywhere, and safer than along the side of the roadway, but it isn’t good for your joints.

So mix it up. Try running on various surfaces and terrain like asphalt, grass or sand. I watched an interview on the news the other morning with Bruce Jenner, and he recommended training for long-distance running on grass to prevent joint pain and overtraining.

Third, leave time to warm up and recover.

I had the pleasure of working with paralympic silver and bronze track medalist Blake Leeper a few months back, and he helped me realize how important warming up and cooling down is. “You are better off spending the two to three minutes warming up rather than being injured for two to three months,” he said.

That really opened my eyes. If you are running, you should love your legs and take care of them to prevent injuries that will sideline you – putting the brakes on an activity you really love.

As the leaves are changing and fall is in the air, I hope all of you runners are enjoying the colorful view as you are out on your runs.

So make sure you know your gear, mix up the surfaces you run on and take the time to warm up, cool down and recover.

Lunden Souza, a Merced native, is a personal trainer, health and wellness coach and writer in Southern California. She can be reached at lifelikelunden@gmail.com.

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