By Sarah Moore, PT, DPT
Cross country season is right around the corner and it is time to start preparing physically, psychologically and practically. Here are a few tips on how to make your season as successful as possible.
Strength training: During the off-season strength training should be a part of your routine to prepare your body for track season. Research has shown that strength training can improve your running economy, power and decrease injury risk. The strength training should be specifically designed by a professional for your body and needs.
Improve your form and efficiency: Off-season is the time when you can focus on optimal form and therefore optimal efficiency of running. Improved running economy comes from optimizing coordination, balance, mobility and posture. These can be improved with a variety of running drills and plyometrics specific to running.
Set goals and make a plan: This is the time to plan out your season and set some goals. Good goals can help maintain your motivation and focus during the tough parts of the season. Talk to your coach and plan a schedule and specific training sessions to help you achieve your goals. Record the progress toward your goals as research has shown that recording progress may positively influence your motivation to keep working toward your goals.
Equipment: When did you last get new running shoes? Do you have appropriate clothing for training in different weather conditions? Chafing during long runs? Review the equipment you will be using throughout the season and try it out for fit and comfort. Excessive wear and tear of your shoes may warrant a visit to the local shoe store where you can be fitted for shoes specifically for your feet and needs. Comfort of equipment can make your training a much more pleasurable experience.
Healthy eating and drinking: Providing your body with the appropriate nutrition is crucial to allow the body to perform optimally, recover, avoid injury, maintain a good immune system and prevent fatigue. Hydrate properly with water and electrolytes as loss of water in the body decreases the body’s’ ability to regulate heat and therefore decreases performance.
Experiencing pain or discomfort? See a physical therapist or other medical provider sooner rather than later to treat and correct any problems for return to running as soon as possible.
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