Sunday, March 9 2014 8:35 PM EDT2014-03-10 00:35:58 GMT
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One of the first things to consider is attire -- particularly shoes. There's even a way to lace up your shoes that could shave a few seconds off your time.
"People always ask me 'how can I run faster?' Wells said. "The first thing is: always unlace your shoes properly before you take them off, and then put your foot in the shoe."
(Taking off your shoes without untying them can "destroy the integrity of the shoe.)
When putting your shoes on, Wells suggests that you "think of the back of the shoe as having a heel garage, and you want to park your foot in the rear of the heel garage. Then pull the tongue up, high and center, and walk your fingers up the lace ladder. One set of laces at the top -- and really make it nice and snug. More snug than loose."
"You want the foot and shoe to act as one," Wells said. "If the foot is sliding inside the shoe, it's not behaving as one, and you actually run inefficient. You can run faster if the foot is secured in the shoe."
When it comes to other clothing on race day, Wells says it's common for runners to over-dress on race day. It's important to note that your body temperature rises by at last 20 degrees when you run.
"So something like just a simple pair of socks and shorts, and maybe a long sleeve or just a single top is fine," Wells said. "You might want to put something over you before the race, but be ready to shed that."
Compression socks are another consideration: they can promote blood circulation.
"It [the sock] acts like a pump, pumping blood up to your heart to re-oxygenate, to serve your muscles better. It also secures the calf muscles and keeps them from moving around so much, and that cuts down on fatigue and on slight muscle tears."
When running a 5K, Wells says a small meal on the morning of the race should be fine -- something like a little toast, a bagel or a small banana. Wells also recommends runners "take care of your bathroom business at home. The facilities are always nicer at home."
Many runners like to stretch just before the race, but Wells says that's not always a good idea.
"Stretching is not the best thing to do beforehand," Wells said. "Muscles are cold beforehand."
Instead, Wells recommends gently massaging the leg muscles.
"Think of a bungee cord knotted up," Wells said. "Would you stretch it out or would you knead it out?"
When you're lining up for the start of the race, find a place that suits your level. Faster runners should be in front, with slower runners in the middle and rear.
Once you're running, remember that proper form goes a long way. Wells had these tips for form:
"The first one is posture," Wells said. "You should be nice and tall. Think about a rope attached to your head and another rope attached to your navel going to the finish line. When in doubt, just put your arms up in the air and that's called reset. And you can feel how your posture should be.
"The second one is called 'mid-foot.' And that's landing on your mid-foot. That means neither your heel nor your forefoot. It's your mid-foot."
Wells says it's best to use "shorter strides and drive your cadence.... Your feet and your hands should be pointed forward at all times, and your head should be kept up. A lot of people bend over and lose their posture that way.
Finally, when running, Wells says don't forget to lean: "Lean from your ankle and let it pull you forward. Be sure to not start too fast, so you can finish strong."
Of course, don't forget to drink plenty of water before and during the race and most of all -- have fun!