Whether you’re a novice to running or have been hitting the pavement for years, these tips will help to keep you in tip-top running shape!
•RUNNING TIP #1: Warm-Up
Do. Not. Skip. Your. Warm-up.
When you deny your body a warm-up you are just asking for injury. A warm-up can be as simple as a 10-minute walk. The point of a warm-up is… well… to warm-up your body! Your muscles, tendons, joints, brain, and everything in between need a little time to get the blood pumping in order to keep you safe. Your joints produce something called synovial fluid– it’s a lubricant that naturally occurs within the joints when you warm-up. This fluid helps to cushion and lubricate the joint helping to prevent injury and irritation while moving. Yay for respecting our bodies enough to warm-up and keep them safe!
•RUNNING TIP #2: Start with short intervals
If you’re new to running, don’t push yourself too hard for too long. Starting out with intervals of running for a certain amount of time alternated with walking for a certain amount of time will be your best bet. The more you run, the longer your running intervals will become and conversely, the shorter your walking intervals will become! Like everything, take it slow and trust the process, soon enough you’ll be running for 30+ minutes non-stop! Don’t be ashamed of taking walking breaks– honor your body where it is, today.
•RUNNING TIP #3: Rest– It’s part of the program
Rest days are essential for any training routine. Pushing yourself every single day will only lead to over-training and eventually pain, fatigue, and most likely injury. Allowing your body to rest will help you fully recover from a hard training day. If you never allow your body to fully recover, you can’t expect to make significant strides in progress. Trust the process, and allow yourself to rest. BUT… rest does not mean you’re not to move. Think of rest day as an active recovery day. You can go on a leisurely walk, play with your kids or pets, clean your home, or even try a yoga class!
•RUNNING TIP #4: Stay hydrated
We all know we need water to stay alive, but keeping yourself hydrated is one of the best ways you can help to stay energized before, during, and after exercise as well as support healthy blood sugar levels, recovery from activity, and sleeping well. The amount of water you should be drinking on a rest day is about half your body weight in ounces, then an additional glass for every cup of coffee, soda, or alcoholic beverage you consume. Keep in mind you need even more water when you’re active! So, don’t skimp on the water– dink up!
•RUNNING TIP #5: Cross-Train & Stretch
When you’re training to run, you should not skip weight lifting, cross-training, and stretching. While you want the majority of your training to be focused on what your goal is (ie. Running a certain distance or time), you need to keep your body balanced to help prevent injury. Lifting weights, performing functional body-weight movements, and stretching will not only help you become stronger but they’ll help you become more efficient while running. Take the time to focus on all aspects of training, not just running.
•RUNNING TIP #6: Mind your zipper
Imagine you’re wearing a tight zip-up sweater. During every stride of your run take care not to let your hands or shoulders cross the zipper line. This will help to keep your core and shoulders stable. The less you allow your core to twist, the less energy you will be wasting and more efficient you’ll be while running! It may feel odd at first and like you’re working harder to keep that core stable, but the benefits will definitely outweigh the few training sessions of discomfort. Plus, a strong core will definitely help you become better at all activities, not just running. Win-win!
•RUNNING TIP #7: Fine-tune your stride
While you may have the idea that a longer stride = more efficient run, that is not the case. You want to find a stride where you are landing on the middle of your foot rather than your heels or toes. A heavy heel strike can actually result in hitting the ground with 1.5 to 3 times your body-weight. Because of this jarring force, your ankles, knees, hips, and spine are all left to deal with the burden of absorbing this impact. Landing on your toes can also slow you down and possibly cause injury with the amount of stress exerted. While running, think about lifting your front knee high in front of you to increase the time from toe-off to landing. Lastly, try to limit the amount of lateral leg movement – that means no feet flopping to the sides behind you!
•RUNNING TIP #8: Relax your hands and arms
It’s easy to let tension increase in your hands and arms while running. Many of us don’t realize it’s even happening. To help keep your hands relaxed, imagine you’re holding a small bag of popcorn– you don’t want to hold the little bags too tight or else you’ll crush all that popcorn! Try and remind yourself to relax your shoulders and keep them from climbing up towards your ears. Less tension in the shoulders and arms will help you breathe better and stay relaxed while running.
•RUNNING TIP #9: Invest in proper shoes
First, it’s important to note that your technique is arguably more important than the shoe on your foot. However, one should be aware of what kind of shoes you’re wearing while running. There are different styles of shoes designed for different purposes. Shoes that are more flat and stiff are designed for weight training, where shoes that have a thicker sole and better arch support are made for running. Find a store that does shoe fittings and a professional that can help you find a pair of shoes to support your running goals, not just your style goals.
•RUNNING TIP #10: Find a buddy
Find a training partner! This will help to not only keep you accountable but to keep training FUN! Yes, we all have our days where finding motivation is a struggle, but those are the days where having that training partner can really help to make a difference. If you don’t have anyone you know that is willing to start training with you, find a running group. There are tons of meet-ups that you can join for free- there are usually all levels of runners attending. This could be a great way to make more than one friend with the same or similar goals in mind.
•BONUS RUNNING TIP: Stick to a cadence
Try to keep a steady cadence when running. Count your steps for 6 seconds and then multiply by 10 – this is your running cadence. 160 – 180 steps per minute is a good goal. For efficiency’s sake, it is important to utilize the springiness of your Achilles tendon and soleus muscle. Too slow of a cadence means you’re spending too much time on the ground – not springy enough. Too fast a cadence indicates an inefficient use of your time on the ground. Try jumping rope with a steady, comfortable, and springy cadence and mimic this cadence during your runs. Remember, running is jumping… just one foot at a time and moving forward!