Running can be a nice relaxing jog through the park or a long-hard year training routine for your next race. Whatever side of the spectrum for running you are on, you need to know these ten tips for running that I have learned throughout my time of training.
I currently train for at least four half-marathons throughout each year while running at least two miles each day totaling to well over seven hundred miles per year. These are my tips I have learned to pass along to new or experienced runners to help you in your journey:
1.) Just Breathe
The most simple part of running, but is forgot by most, is to just breathe once the blood starts flowing in your system. Your bodies natural reaction is to let more air in at a faster pace when you put strain on your body to replenish the oxygen you are losing which leads to extremely high pace of breathing with very short breathes into your lungs. You want to make sure you keep your breathing under control by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth at a deep, slow pace. This will keep your body on a "normal" oxygen cycle and teach your muscles to perform on the same under control breathing level throughout a workout. This will come in to play huge throughout your next long run, and better to be in control completely of your body even while working out.
2.) Stretch. Stretch. Stretch.
I cannot emphasis stretching enough. This is the most important pre and post run activity you can perform. Stretching keeps your muscles and joints lose while going through your workout. This helps avoid injury, improve running figure/posture, and is naturally good for you to maintain flexibility. Start your run with at least ten minutes of leg stretches and throw in some arm/back/torso stretches to maintain the flexibility everywhere. Also, be sure to end your run with leg stretches to keep your muscles lose after. If not, you will feel the tightness in your legs for days after.
3.) Vaseline Up
As any experienced runner knows, vaseline will become your best friend throughout the ten plus mile runs to help the relentless pain of chafing. However, even if you plan on running a lot of two mile runs consistently then get ready to purchase one tub of vaseline. Your body will naturally chafe in areas like under your nipples, inside of your upper thighs, feet, underarms, and other areas that are exposed to a rough shirt, shorts, etc. during your workout that rub against your body. You will know immediately when your body begins to chafe, because it is a pain that is so terrible it used to stop me throughout my runs. The fix to chafing is buying a tube of vaseline and then spread the vaseline (thick for long runs) on the areas that typically chafe. You will find that no longer your body will chafe in those areas when you apply the vaseline, and you will be good to go for the next run!
4.) Invest in RUNNING Shoes
My biggest mistake throughout the first three months of training last April was not investing in a good pair of running shoes. The difference is night and day, and there is over a hundred types of shoes to pick from. My recommendation? Stay with the brand you typically wear, and look for their running line of shoes. The brand that fits you best (Nike, Adidas, Brooks, etc.) will typically fit best for running shoes too. Be sure to jog around the shoe section of the store to test out the comfort (should feel like walking on a cloud), and only wear them while exercising for maximum performance. I personally use the Nike Pegasus 33 which have been a wonderful experience for comfort in the short and long distance runs. A very versatile shoe that I will for now on always use! Below is also a link for the best running shoes, check it out!
5.) Tortoise WILL Beat the Hare
A famed child book that projects the smooth and slow pace will always beat the rapid and fast. This may not be true when trying to hit a 6 mile pace through your race, but is true when beginning your first 5K training or on your weekly jog by the river. Always remember the reason for running, and that Rome was never built in a day. Conditioning takes many miles, a lot of time, and dedication to the long smooth road, not the rapid short success. Be sure to take some moments through your weekly jog to slow down, relax, and work on your pace to keeping a full gas tank even after your run. As well, be sure to keep your training manageable when you begin. If you try to push your body after a couple of months of not exercising this can lead to injury very quickly, and for you to become burn out with the consistent pain your body is going through. Always remember to take it slow and steady to win the long term race.
6.) Document. Document. Document.
Keep your runs documented, EVERY SINGLE ONE. Documenting your runs will be the best self motivation you can possibly have. Being able to see where you were to where you have come to is the best feeling in the world. It reminds you what you came from, and why you push every day to get better. You can use multiple apps on your phone, a twelve month calendar, or any method to document your miles. I personally use Nike Run + to document my runs that includes where I ran, my mile pace, my distance, and always gives me words of encouragement throughout my run. The best part? It is completely free! I would recommend for you to check out the app today and starting logging those miles!
7.) Prepare for Cramps
The nicest way for your body to tell you to stop running is by a tap by the cramp fairy typically in the lower torso, calves, or thighs that causes your muscles to immediately tighten up. Cramps are inevitable, but if you know where they are, and why they are happening, then you can immediately correct your body to continue your run. Typically, I get cramps throughout my run in my lower torso (abs) that feel like my body wants my back to hunch over. I have learned that this is caused by lack of air to my cells, and therefore my body contracts. When this happens I focus on deep, long breathes while slowing my pace extremely and keeping my posture very straight until the cramp leaves. It may take multiples minutes, but will eventually leave. For any cramps I get in my legs I have found this is caused by a lack of stretching or simply dehydration. For the leg cramps I will begin to hydrate with my Nathan Hydrating Pack and see if the cramp leaves. If not, I will stop and begin to stretch where I am thoroughly until the cramp dies down. As you run, you will start to develop a great sense of awareness for different feelings in your body. After your run, be sure to research the feelings and what others have done to correct them. Then go out and try those remedies the next time it happens to your body, and what works best for you to get pas the cramps to keep trucking on!
8.) High Quality H2O
As known from The Waterboy, H2O is the magic cure for Adam Sandler when he is knocked down by the infamous late hit. While water isn't always the magic cure, it is a easy fix for a lot of problems/pains your body could feel during and after your run. Hydration is key before you run. I always drink at least 20 ounces of water before my runs, and will only keep my hydration packs on me if I go above three miles. For my three mile plus runs, I will carry two Nathan Hydration Running packs with me that carry 12 ounces of water each. I personally will start drinking six ounces of water once I hit a mile and half, then keep drinking six ounces each mile after. I began drinking BCAA throughout my run, and this helps immensely for my muscles to recover immediately after the run. However, whether its a special protein, BCAA, or plain old H2O be sure to always stay hydrated especially for long runs or in hotter weather.
9.) Running is Mental, Not Physical
Always be looking at the end goal. This will push you, drive you, and bring you to crossing the metaphorical finish line, or real finish line in your first race. Always keep the end goal in the front of your mind. No matter what, when you think about how long it will be to finish your run, how many more miles you have, or how badly your body wants to quit, never stop thinking about crossing that finish line. Running is mental, not physical. Thinking about the end will prepare your mind for the long run you are about to embark on and will convenience your mind that success is not reached until the miles are met at the end of the run. This helped me tremendously in my first run to not quit and keep going until I crossed the finish line at the end of the half-marathon. Always remember how powerful your mind is to convenience yourself to never stop until the end.
10.) Remember to Taper
Taper is the act of the reduction of exercise before a competition or race. Tapering will not only bring your body to peak performance, but will allow you to accomplish the pace level you have been training for. For a half-marathon I recommend to start tapering two weeks out from the race. When you taper be sure to take your runs down to bare minimum to maintain your condition, but not build any condition. If you are used to running five miles per day, then bring it down to two miles four days out of the week. Be sure to not only physically relax your body, but mental relax by treating yourself to a spa day, going to a state park, or reading a good book. This will prepare your body to be at peak perform with a clear, focused mind ready to take on a challenge.
Any questions? Always feel free to reach me at my e-mail, email@example.com for recommendations about future posts, testimonials, or any possible edits moving forward.