Although it may be hard to believe, fall is just around the corner and there are many fun outdoor events coming up to get our community out and active.
If you are in training or planning to participate in a 5K or another cycling, walking or running event, here are a few tips to help you avoid injury and enjoy the experience.
Get the right equipment
Having the appropriate equipment to participate is an important first step. Talk with local experts, such as those at a local sporting goods store, to be sure you have the best shoes, bike and/or safety gear for you. Tell them what activity you are undertaking and let them counsel you about what to use. It doesn't have to be expensive, but your equipment must be suited for your needs and fitted to your height, weight and usage.
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For example, if you are preparing for a 5K, be sure you have proper shoes and that they are well fitted. Many times leg, back, knee and other pain from exercise can be related to poorly fitting shoes.
If you are planning to train during early morning or late evening hours, consider reflective or bright clothing so that you are more visible to passing motorists.
It's also important to monitor the weather to be sure you have appropriate attire. You don't want to be overdressed or underdressed. Morning events can often be cooler than expected.
Take training seriously
Once you have the right equipment, be sure you undertake a proper training regimen to prepare for your activity of choice. If you're going for a long distance event, training for about eight weeks is encouraged. Proper training will help you to enjoy the activity and reduce your risk for injury. There are lots of training resources available in our community and online. These tools can help you set goals and build up to your final distance.
Before you begin an event, be sure to give your body the proper fuel. Eat a healthy breakfast at least two to three hours before you begin the activity. Focus on foods with lots of carbohydrates, such as cereals, toast with honey, jam or jelly and orange juice, to fuel your exercise.
Don't eat a heavy breakfast such as biscuits with gravy or foods that are high in protein or fat. Foods that are high in protein will cause blood flow diversion to the stomach to digest that food for a long period of time. That means less blood flow to your legs and lungs to help fuel your activity level.
Fluids are also vital. A good rule of thumb is to drink about a bottle of water every hour, even in cooler temperatures.
For shorter events, like a 5K, give yourself a short warmup to get your blood pumping and muscles loose and ready.
Regardless of whether or not you participate for fun or for the competition, the most important thing is that you are moving and active, which has a multitude of health benefits. Proper training, equipment and nutrition can help you avoid injury and have fun while improving your health.