Right now is the time to start preparing for the NYC Marathon (if you're running it), or in other instances, a great time to start running. In case you are preparing for the NYC Marathon, or even a half marathon, there are a couple things you will need.
- Training partner: Someone who has run it before, or if they are not available, find a coach. This is imperative to help you do the right workouts, run the right speeds, and not overtrain. With most of my clients, I have seen more injuries from a combination of overtraining, not stretching enough after, and not having enough strength and mobility in the hips to prevent injury. Speaking of which...
- Strength Training routine: it needs to happen, both to help increase the strength of specific muscles that aren't utilized during the run, and to prevent imbalances because of the sagittal plane (forward/backward) nature of running in general. Exercises in the transverse and frontal plane are amazing at opening the hips and strengthening them in more than one plane. More on that later.
- Heart Rate Monitor/GPS Watch: With today's technology, the beauty of this is that Garmin, Nike and Timex have all come up with a watch and heart rate monitor (HRM), all in one. My personal recommendation is the Garmin 410cx, both because it has a longer battery life, and can also be worn as a typical watch. Other units are not as aesthetically appealing, and may even be considered too big. Anyways, the reason for this is the analysis and tracking of your running, especially the distance and heart rate/intensity, is crucial to avoid pushing your limit too fast or for too long. For type-A personalities that like to track statistics, this is an absolute must.
- Running shoes that fit: This is also a huge contributor to either a) being injured or b) running without pain. Most running stores (especially in NYC, with Jack Rabbit, The Running Store, and The Running Company) have shoe salesmen that will now video tape your stride on a treadmill, and be able to analyze your gait and arch to determine the appropriate shoe for you. Use their advice, but with one exception: if you have a 'neutral' arch, or a normal foot without any pre-existing issues, think about using the 'Nike Free' line of shoes. They eliminate the heel-strike because there isn't enough padding in the heel to allow the heel strike to be comfortable, whereas most 'running' shoes have a thicker heel, which allows the heel strike to occur. The problem with the heel strike is this: if the heel strike occurs, it means you are striking the ground with an almost straight leg, and that transfer of energy can travel up to your hip. HUGE problem, and contributor to ITB issues, lateral patella pain, etc. Instead, the Nike Frees, along with other flatter shoes, allow your midfoot to strike, thus using the muscles in your leg as the springs that nature intended them to be.
- Running clothing: No need to mention brands, but getting specific running gear, including thinner socks, spandex shorts (tight fitting tops for women to eliminate chafing and bounce), and loose, dry fitting material for shorts or tops is a MUST. I can't tell you how miserable I remember being before the days of Under Armour and Nike Dri-fit.
- Post-workout Drink: Surge for exercise lasting under 1 hour, Endurox for exercise lasting more than 1 hour
- IPod and running music: DJ Scene has free podcasts that are upbeat, top 40 mixes. Go on Itunes to find him!
- IPod arm-band/holder: Eliminates/minimizes water or dropping risk for your Ipod, and some also have a spot for keys.
- Foam Roller/The Stick(s)/Tennis Ball: to self-myofascial release and rid your body of the knots within fascia and muscles, these are actually a no-brainer. The reason these aren't on the must-have list is because most gyms now have them, and they also have them in portable, 1 foot lengths (I also have a foam roller ball, great for the piriformis). Tennis balls are also great!
That's all I have for now, but stay tuned for running specific warm ups, exercises, and advanced training techniques to get you ready for your races.