Running is an excellent way to stay fit and healthy; for some of us, it’s also a passion. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or just bought a new pair of running shoes, there’s much more to know about running than just going fast. Proper training and preparation are essential for your physical safety and running goals.
Here are ten running tips and tricks to have you reach your full potential:
1. Start Slow
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Don’t break into a run right away if you plan on running a lap around the track or ten miles. Start slowly to get warmed up, then gradually pick up your pace as you go. When running, you should be able to carry a conversation. If you’re gasping for air, you’re going too fast. Conversely, if you can sing the lyrics of the song blasting in your earbuds, you’re moving too slowly.
2. Embrace the Hills
Hills are great because they’ll help you change your pace and give you more of a workout. They’ll help you improve your hip strength and mobility, provided you’re not overdoing it. There’s no shame in slowing down to make it up or down a hill. If anything, you’ll just have more in the tank if you decide to extend your run.
3. Work With a Rehab Specialist
Even the most prepared and cautious runners have injuries. If you feel like you’re in pain after a run, contact a sports rehab specialist right away. If you’re in Boston, we recommend Forward Spine and Sport. They’re there to “support your recovery and growth through education, empowerment, movement, and community.”
Rehab specialists provide the tools you need to get moving again without causing further injury. They also offer great advice regarding pushing your limits without breaking yourself so that you can perform at your very best.
4. Create a Training Plan and Set Goals
If you are signing up for a marathon or have a distance or time goal, you’ll need to plan to achieve these goals. Draft a schedule that includes running days, strength training and cross-training days, and recovery days.
And don’t forget about those recovery days!
Mark your progress each day. If you discover that your plan could be more aggressive or easily achievable, adjust as you go.
As you’ll see in your schedule, there’s so much more to running than just running. Experienced runners understand the benefits of conditioning their whole bodies. Great exercises include:
If improving your running abilities is your core focus, we don’t recommend machine weights since they typically don’t emphasize flexibility.
In addition to cross-training, you should also be warming up and cooling down before and after each run. Focus on range-of-movement stretches during your warm-up to ready your body for the many demands of running. After, practice static stretching to restore muscle length and reduce the risk of injury.
6. Invest in Your Shoes
If you’re thinking about regularly running in a pair of Converse shoes, think again! Proper running shoes can prevent aches, pains, and other injuries you may experience in lesser-quality kicks. If you think you can skip this step, just wait until you get shin splints. They’re the absolute worst.
According to REI, you should replace your running shoes every 300 – 500 miles. By then, your midsole cushion begins to lose resiliency and fails to absorb the shock of constantly pounding the pavement. Without shock absorption, you’ll experience more muscle and joint pain.
7. Don’t Hesitate to Walk
Your running goal should never be, “I’m going to run X miles straight.” If your body is telling you to walk for a bit, listen! Walking gives your body a break and allows it to recuperate some of the energy your muscles use while running. Not only does this prevent injury, but it also gives you the fuel you need to continue running when you’re ready.
Walk breaks are strongly recommended when you’re just getting started. As your training progresses, you’ll likely need fewer walk breaks—and sometimes, you might not stop!
8. Eat Carbs
Food is fuel. While not everyone can eat before running, if you can eat an hour beforehand and not get sick, you should do so.
Consume a healthy balance of carbs and protein within a half-hour of your run. If you’re running for an hour or longer, you should also consume Gatorade or Powerade to replenish the potassium and sodium you lost through sweat. You should also eat shortly after running to replenish your energy.
9. Stay Hydrated
Typically, your body requires hydration every 30 minutes of exercise. If you’re running long-distance, bring water or Gatorade to avoid dehydration. You should also consider the weather. If it’s warm or humid outside, you will need to hydrate more. If it’s raining, you’ll probably sweat less and might not need as much liquid to stay hydrated. Regardless, you should also err on the side of caution since dehydration can lead to injury.
10. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
Again, it’s a marathon, not a sprint—especially in the early days of training. Don’t force yourself to run a certain number of miles every day or week. Start by simply getting in the habit of exercising regularly and sticking to your training schedule. By starting a new ritual, you’ll achieve more results than if you’re concerned about achieving your 12-mile-per-week goal.
That said, it’s also okay to miss a day here and there. Don’t chastise yourself skipping a day to recover, because of the weather, or if you’re simply too busy to get outside. Even if you miss multiple days, you probably haven’t taken as big a step back as you’d think. Running is a long game, and the hundreds of runs you’ll go on will more than make up for the ones you skip.
Bonus Running Tip: Have Fun!
Find ways to make running fun for you. If you don’t enjoy it, you’ll begin to dread the days you’re scheduled to jog through the park. Coordinate running with a friend, switch up your trails, or find ways to gamify it and include a rewards system. The more enjoyable you can make running, the more likely you are to stick with your tricking.
At Boston Direct Health, we’re here to help you live an optimized life and embolden our patients to look and feel their very best. Need some more running tips? Schedule a call with us today!
Dr. Steve Zivich
My name is Dr. Steve Zivich, and I am the owner of Boston Direct Health. I attended the Commonwealth University School of Medicine and completed my Surgical Internship at the prestigious Boston Medical Center. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge of chronic illness management, obesity, diabetes, metabolic diseases, body contouring, and more. As a proud member of the LBGTQ community, I am dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive healthcare services to people from all walks of life. My goal is to listen to your health concerns and create a plan to help you look and feel your best. Your health is my priority.