Thursday, July 17, 2014

10 Tips For Making Your Run Not Suck

Girl Running "10 Tips for Making Your Run Not Suck"
Photo courtesy of Thomas Rousing
A few weeks ago I wrote about how I don't really love running, but do it anyway.  After reading that article I'm sure you can understand why I still run after all of these years.  It hasn't been easy though.  I'm not a mileage monster by any means and can really use any tips to keep going back for more and to make my run more enjoyable.  Over the years I have developed a few tricks of my own, and although they all won't necessarily work for you, hopefully some will.

1.  Do it with frequency -  Even if that only means two times per week.  Two times is better than zero times.  No one ever learned a language by taking a class once a month, and running is not going to get easier if you tie up those laces only sporadically.  Run with frequency and you will feel and see the difference.

2.  Push yourself -  I have never regretted when I set a goal in my head and I achieved it, even if no one else knew that I accomplished it but me.  And it can be as simple as making it to the next block or sprinting for 30 seconds, it doesn't matter, as long as you push yourself you will not only become a better runner, but you will feel better about running and want to do it more often.  

3.  You don't always have to run, but when you aren't running, walk fast. 
Say you just picked up running after being sedentary for months, good for you!  Does anyone expect you to go from the couch to running a 5K in one day?  No way!  But just because you aren't running for the entire time does not mean that you should relax.  Keep the heart rate up by walking fast!

4.  Create an amazing playlist -  Music is one of the most important things for me when I run.  Without it, I don't run. Period. This is where you have total creative DJ freedom.  Nobody has to like the music you listen to on your run but you; make it good, rotate your playlist frequently to keep things fresh and don't worry about the looks that you get when you start singing Britney Spears.

5.  Focus on the path slightly in front of you -  I have tried picking out things in the distance and focus on running towards them but it never works for me.  I need to not know how slow I am going and instead just focus on a few feet in front of me.  This not only makes me feel like I am going a lot faster, but also helps me concentrate better on what is going in my head.

6.  Technique does matter - Keep the elbows to your side and bent at 90 degrees.  Crossing your hands in front of your waist may actually give you cramps. If it's windy, duck your head a little to run into the wind, but keep the body aligned.  Make sure your shoulders don't creep up to your ears.  That means you're carrying too much tension and need to relax. Take little steps.  It takes less effort overall and that means you can run for longer, score!

7.  Hydrate and fuel your body - Nothing feels worse than going for a run and after the first five minutes feeling pooped because you are dehydrated or have no energy because you didn't eat and now you are running on an empty, grumbling stomach.  Keep hydrated all throughout the day and your body will thank you by going farther.

8.  Get enough rest - This point can't be stressed enough.  Get sleep, and get a lot of it!  It is better for everything you do, every day, including running.

9.  Think at the beginning of the run about what you want to think about in your mind - Running for me is an opportunity to clear things out in my head that are either bothering me or I at least need to sort out and make sense of.  Running is one of the best ways to clear all that clutter out, but before hand I need to make sure I know exactly what I want to think about so I can focus on that, and that only.  Otherwise, my brain can be going back and forth tossing unimportant thoughts around like a ping pong ball.

10.  Set a goal for yourself - Whether it be to run a 5k, a marathon, or just to be able to run 3x's a week for a month straight.  Then write it down on paper and write any obstacles that will get in your way and what you are going to do to combat them.  Also write down anything that can help you achieve your goal.  Then tell people about it.  Make yourself accountable.

So there you have it.  These are some of my best tips, what are yours?

Playing with food, fun, fitness and adventure,
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