Q&A: Running, Cardio and More

September 13, 2011
My inspiration for today’s blog post came from a friend who asked me a few questions about running, training for a 5k and some other cardio questions. So, in case you are getting ready to run a marathon, 5k or just want some simple guidance on cardio training, here comes some Q&A for you. Please note I am by no means a running expert or have any desire to become one, but I have run several 5k and 10k races over the past few years and am happy to share my training suggestions. Ready, set, go!
1. What is the best way to prepare to run a 5k?
The first run I ever did was the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston(highly recommend) and it was a 10k (6.2miles). Having only run a mile a day the past few years, I knew I needed to prepare for a 6 mile race. A friend suggested the Hal Higdon training guide and that worked great for me! Here is the website for the 5k training guide: http://www.halhigdon.com/5K%20Training/index.htmHe also includes marathon training on his website and breaks it down by weeks and gives you a daily training schedule.

2. Should I stretch before or after I run? Or both? I’ve heard different things.

I would stretch BOTH before and after any cardio/weight training workout.  A warm up and cool down are both a must! Your warm up and cool down should include using a foam roll (a cheap roll made of foam that you use to roll over your muscles). This is not commonly used, but very very helpful do both before and after your workout-I love using the foam roll:)  Active stretching is good to do before you run/workout. Active stretching is basically going through the motion of the exercises you are about to perform. You want to get your blood flowing and warm up your muscles. Static stretching is best after your workout. Static stretching is the most common technique-holding a stretch for a period of time (for example, reaching down and touching your toes and holding for 20 seconds).

3. Why do I get so red when I do cardio? The activity can be something I have always done but I still get bright red even though I don’t feel like anything is wrong.

This is a harder question to answer, but my best suggestion is to start training with a Heart Rate Monitor. I recently started using a HR monitor while I workout and it has been so helpful. Not only does it constantly tell you what your heart rate is (which will tell you if you are pushing yourself hard enough or too hard), but it also tracks your calories burned. Check outwww.polarusa.com for more information on the benefits of training with a HR monitor and the different models available. I got the Polar FT40 and love it!

Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated during your workouts. If you are short of breath or ever feel like you are going to pass out, that may indicate a more serious problem and I definitely would suggest talking to your doctor.

4. What is the best way to control my breathing when I run?

There are a few techniques you can try to help with this. One option is to make sure you are breathing with your mouth open (instead of through your nose) so you are getting more oxygen. Another helpful breathing technique is to practice belly breathing. This involves your belly rising and falling with each breath (verses just your chest rising and falling). It is a much deeper breath and allows you to take in more oxygen.

Food for Thought: There are so many benefits from cardio training. Here are just a few key benefits according to my NASM Personal Training textbook:
*Decreases daily fatigue, anxiety and depression

*Decreases hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis and obesity
*Increases your flexibility, sense of well-being and immunity
If you’re not a cardio fan, try gardening, mowing the lawn or walking with a friend to get your cardio workout in each day. Your goal should be to do 30 minutes of cardio 5-7 days a week (this is also right out of my NASM textbook) so don’t get upset with me;) Doing something you enjoy that will get your heart rate up will be far more beneficial than you can imagine and you will feel so much better each day!

7 thoughts on ““Q&A: Running, Cardio and More”

  • Julie

    Ouch! Linnea, that is a bummer:/ couple ideas for you…are you able to bike? Also, the rowing machine is a great cardio workout and good exercise for your upper body! Yoga and pilates are other good alternatives.

  • Nea and Eroch

    I need to get a bike:) no gym membership either. We have a home-made gym with kettlebells, medicine ball, 18 lb bar, dvds, sledgehammers and our backyard has a 0.5 mile track which i normally do a few miles on. I’m looking into kettlebell moves that would include cardio. Maybe burpees too?

  • Julie

    Your home gym sounds awesome! Burpees and mountain climbers are great. Juming rope (for a minute) between each set is also good cardio. There is something called the tabata method that is a quick calorie burner and would probably be good for you because it is 20 seconds intense exercise and 10 seconds rest…

  • Nea and Eroch

    we just got a tractor tire as big as i am, so using that will be fun. this winter we plan to get battling ropes as well. i really have to be creative to maintain very low impact 🙁 Thanks!

  • Julie

    Hey Kaitlyn! I have never actually done crossfit myself, but I know there are tons of people who love it. My understanding is that you do heavy weight and every exercise is timed. This is essentially power training (explosive/fast as possible) and I would not train my clients this way unless they had a specific sport or reason to power train. There is a much greater risk of hurting yourself because you may compromise proper form in order to get more reps with heavier weight. You should go check it out and then let me know if that is what you observe. If you do try it, just be careful!

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