Getting The Most Out of Your Jogs

March 23, 2009
By Bon Tria BRONZE, Statesboro, Georgia
Bon Tria BRONZE, Statesboro, Georgia
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Jogging can be witnessed almost anywhere and anytime. People jog around parks, through neighborhoods, on track fields, in gyms, or at beaches during the morning, afternoon, or night. You may even be someone who has been witness out jogging. If so, have you ever questioned whether or not you were getting the most out of your jogs? As easy as it sounds, there is much more to jogging than just throwing on some clothes, a pair of shoes, maybe a flashy headband, stretching a little, a few big breaths, and then off you go. I ran cross-country all four years of high school, so I guess I would consider myself jogging savvy. At the beginning of my first season I had no idea about the foods I should have been eating, the amount of water I should have been drinking, the stretches I should have been doing, and the little techniques here-and-there to help me throughout my jog. Over time, however, I learned the basics to each of those aspects. But before I figured them out, I was not getting the most out of my jogs.
First things first, you have to prepare your body on the inside and out. The majority of your body consists of water so don’t forget to push those fluids several hours before your jog. Know the types of foods to eat such as fats, carbohydrates, proteins, etc. to provide your body with the proper energy. Plan to cook meals at home rather than fast-foods or take-outs. This is the best way to control what exactly you’re putting in your food. Plan to eat a god two to four hours before running; that should be enough time for your body to digest the food and absorb the majority of what you need for a jog.

Proper clothing is important! Adjust your attire to the weather, such as long sleeves for cold and short sleeves for warm. Aside from clothes, comfortable and light shoes are beneficial to a good jog. When picking out shoes, don’t be afraid to try them on and pretend as if you’re running. You must find the almost-perfect shoes or else minor injuries could happen.

Now that you have provided your body with its proper needs for a jog, it is time to warm up. Start off with a short distance jog at wherever you decide to go (gym, track, beach, home, etc.). A quarter or half a mile should do. This lets your body prepare itself for a strenuous activity by increasing your body temperature and heart rate. Shortly after, find an open area and stretch each muscle in both legs individually. Some of the muscles vital to your jog include your hamstrings, quadriceps, groins, buttocks, groins, gluts, calves, and Achilles tendons. There are several others you will need to stretch, but it is important to start with those. Stretching upper body muscles are just as important. For example, your shoulders are constantly working because you swing your arms back and forth throughout a jog. Don’t forget to breathe while you are stretching. People have a tendency to hold their breath while stretching, which is not good because it deprives your muscles from the oxygen it needs.

It should be around that time to start running. It is important to set distance goal before your jog according to the condition of your body. At the beginning of your jog, be sure to keep a nice steady pace. You do not want to start off fast because you will last for a short amount of time. You are looking for quality in your jog. Take deep breaths in through your nose and completely out your mouth. Do not pace your breathing with your leg strides. Your breathing and leg stride shave two different paces and it would be a mistake to intertwine them. Keeping a good form is vital to your jog. Holding your chin up allows oxygen to pass through your airways effectively. Your back is precious, so keep it straight and do not lean forward at any time. This helps with posture and keeps less pressure of your back. The “heel-toe” technique requires you to land on your heel and push off with the balls of your feet and big toe. By doing this with each step, you make every stride count. Whether you have noticed it or not, the pace of your legs mimics the pace of your arms. Do not form your hands into fists; allow your hands and fingers to hand freely. This keeps your body from exerting any energy to your hands. Try to avoid from stopping. One of the main points of jogging is to improve your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. By stopping, you condition your heart and lungs only to that certain extent. If there is ever a point where you feel the urge to stop, slow down and keep your legs in a jogging motion. This allows your body to keep the movement of blood flow and catch its breath. It also lets your body know that it is not time to completely rest and makes it easier for you to continue back to your pace. Following these simple techniques will most likely help you achieve a better performance out of your jog.

As soon as you are finished with your jog, keep your body in movement for a minimum of five minutes. This allows your body to naturally reduce its temperature and heart rate. Do the same stretches to the same muscles you stretched in the beginning. This will help with soreness and muscle flexibility. It is necessary to provide your body with the same foods that you consumed prior to your jog. It is also important to push fluids and give your body the rest that it needs. When you get up from your rest, ask yourself if you got the most out of your jog. I would hope you can answer yourself with a yes.

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