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What Every Runner Should Know

Running is more popular than ever in the United States right now, with nearly 25 million Americans who are considered active participants, according to the most recent survey by the National Sporting Goods Association.

But before you lace up your running shoes, David Willey, editor-in-chief of Runner's World magazine, visits The Early Show to talk about what every runner, or runner-to-be needs to know.

[Find Willey's tips on What to Wear on this page and Setting Goals on page 2.]

WHAT TO WEAR

Make sure you have the right shoes - Running in the wrong shoes can lead to discomfort (discouraging you from continuing) or, worse, injury. It's important that you choose the shoe that best fits you and corresponds to your foot (high arch, low arch, flat foot) and your gait (whether you're a pronator, a heavy heel-striker, etc.).

The best way to tell what kind of foot you have is by taking the "wet test:"
Stick your foot in a tub or bucket of water, than place it on a blank piece of paper. The imprint will give you your foot "profile." Then go to your local specialty retailer and have them check your gait; they'll be able to give you the right options for the type of shoe you'll need (stability, cushioning, motion control and performance training).

Wear the right gear - In the heat of summer, make sure you wear clothes that will not only keep you cool, but will keep the moisture from sweat away from your body (so don't wear cotton, which absorbs and clings).

There are many great new options available on the market, and depending on the manufacturer the names will vary (Clima Cool, Play Dri, Dri-Fit, etc.). Basically these are engineered fabrics that are lightweight and designed to wick the moisture away from your body.

Hydrate properly - Now it's more important than ever to keep your body hydrated properly, since you'll be losing fluids by sweating (even more than you might normally).

Depending on the length of your run, be sure to drink enough fluids about an hour before your run. If you're going for a longer run (say, five miles or more), then, that might be a combination of water and sports drink. Sports drinks contain sodium and carbohydrates, and the sodium is particularly important since you'll lose a lot of it through sweat.

A good rule of thumb for properly hydrating is to drink about three ounces (sports drink or water) for every 20 minutes of running. Using that example, a fast runner going 10 miles would drink less than a slow runner going the same distance, which is as it should be.


SETTING GOALS

For beginners, and for all runners, actually the key is setting goals. And you're never too old. Last week a 95-year-old man from Japan set a world record for age group in the 100-yard dash. Granted, his age group might not be a big pool of people, but he didn't begin running until his late 60s or early 70s.

Beginners: If you've never run before, or haven't run in a long time, your goal may be to run three miles, or a 5K race (3.1 miles). One of the most successful methods for beginners is a run-walk method, combining intervals of both - say running a quarter mile, then walking a quarter mile.

From there you can gradually increase the running intervals and decrease the walking intervals until you've built up the stamina or ability to run three miles straight. It's a very proven method and many runners swear by its results.

Intermediate: For more experienced runners who have noticed that the weight loss has stopped, or their times have plateaued -even though they're still running three or more times a week- there are actually very subtle changes they can make, sometimes without even altering the distance they run, to spark some weight loss or improve their race time.

Intervals can be key here as well, but instead of run walk intervals, try sprinting or speeding up for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds to a minute at normal pace, and keep repeating. Gradually, you can reduce those "rest intervals" and increase those sprint intervals, which will mean you're working harder (good for weight loss) and making improvements to your time without changing your distance.

Another subtle change can be incorporating hills and inclines into your route, which also has the effect of increasing the intensity of your work.

Advanced: This is the elite runner who enjoys a good 10K or marathon. To improve in this category the key is to add mileage. This should be done in small increments.

Don't add more than 10 percent of your current weekly mileage, or more than 10 percent of your current long run.

For instance, if you run 20 miles a week, and you're adding on the next week, don't run more than 22 miles. If your long run is typically 10 miles, and your adding on for the next week, the long run should be no more than 11. And most runners don't run the entire goal in one day; they'll usually break it up between a morning and afternoon run.