For those runners who are looked at as if they are crazy for loving the burn, to those other runners who have a love hate but mostly hate relationship with running, here are a few tips which will make your run just a little easier and maybe a lot more enjoyable.
1. Believe in yourself!
As cliché as that sounds, it is still true. Running is such a tangible and physical illustration of you reaching your goals. It’s a great chance to practice determination and actually see and feel the product of all your hard work. You may not be an Olympic medalist now but train as if you’re going to be one. Believe in yourself enough to make it to the finish line.
2. Running is as much Mental as it is Physical.
Pep talk yourself as you run. Don’t think about how much you want to stop but rather use the burn, the sweat, and the pain to motivate you to keep going. While you’re running think about the end result, a healthier and stronger you both in mind and body.
3. The first mile is always the hardest.
The first initial chunk of running is always the hardest. Know that it will get easier. You just have to pass the initial “Why am I even doing this? I hate this? My body is screaming?” type feelings. The sudden burst of running in the beginning can make our bodies feel extremely uncomfortable but once you start to forget that you are running and work past that initial apprehension, then the real workout begins, speed picks up, and the runner’s high will lift you to the very end.
4. Make physical landmark goals.
If you are running outside making physical short term land mark goals can be very helpful. For example, you’re jogging and you see a stop light in the distance. Make a goal to sprint to the stop light as fast as you can. Or if you’re running around your neighborhood tell yourself you have to keep running until you finish your second lap and then you can take a break and walk. Break up your run into increments so that it won’t feel so daunting or impossible.
5. Don’t take a break for more than 30 seconds.
It can be really tempting to just stop running and walk the rest of the way. But taking long breaks in between running periods can actually make it harder to run. Your body cools down if it drops from high intensity or stops moving for more than 30 seconds, so once you decide to start running again it can feel like you’re starting all the way from the very beginning. Time your breaks for 30 seconds and then get moving to the same pace you were before. It’ll make it easier for yourself in the long run so resist the temptation to indulge in your breaks.
6. Measure in Distance not Time.
Many people measure their run by timing themselves. However, walking/jogging one mile in thirty minutes is completely different from running three miles in thirty minutes. Challenge yourself by measuring your run by the length of distance, not the length of time. As you begin to see how long it takes you to run a certain distance then you can try to increase that distance within the same amount of time, while later increasing your time and distance all together.
7. A kick ass workout playlist is a must.
We’ve all encountered that sudden feeling of horror and regret at the gym when we discover that we forgot our IPod at home. Listening to an energetic workout playlist gives you much more energy and motivation while running. It can also make the time go by much faster as you run to four minute songs rather than stare at the excruciatingly slow passing seconds on the treadmill or clock. Macklemore, Beyoncé, and Eminem are some great musical energizers that you can add to your workout playlist. Also, create a playlist which rises and falls in rhythm like a bell curve. This can help pace your run through warm up, peak, and cool down.
8. Don’t Start Too Fast!
At the beginning of our run we can feel really pumped and excited. But starting right off the bat sprinting can burn you out within a matter of minutes. Start slower to warm up your body, build up to a jog, then a run, then a sprint at the peak of your workout. Once you’ve reached your maximum speed and length of time running reverse your build up and cool down gradually until you end your run.
Drink lots of water! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Always bring a water bottle with you when you run on a treadmill. As you sweat your body releases water so you need to be drinking as you run to regain healthy hydration and energy. If you like to run outside try to bring a water bottle with you as well. If holding a water bottle while running is a nuisance, drink plenty of water before and after your run.
We all know we should do it but sometimes we just forget. But if you don’t want to feel sore tomorrow you need to stretch before and after. It softens the muscles up before you run and loosens them back out afterward. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just stretch your entire body!
11. Fuel yourself with healthy food.
Eating healthy and exercising will always go hand in hand. When running on unhealthy foods you don’t get the right fuel your body needs to have a great workout. In fact, you may even be worse off after a run fueled by junk food than not having run at all. Fuel your body with clean healthy foods so that you can have the right kind of fuel you need to run and feel great.
12. Run with a friend.
Running with a friend increases accountability, encouragement, and motivation. Running with a friend who is more athletic than you can be even more beneficial because they can help push you past your limits, the ones you know you would have never surpassed if running alone. Having a running partner can motivate you to run faster, longer, and harder. Also, having someone to complain or rejoice with and someone who shares your pain or accomplishments is a great bonus and can even strengthen your bond as friends.
13. Keep moving forward.
Once you get used to your run increase everything. Increase your speed, intensity, and distance. Now that your body has become healthier and accustomed to your run you won’t get the same effects as you did before. To continue the weight loss and strength building, up the ante. Get excited! This means you’ve gotten healthier. That doesn’t give you an excuse to stop and stay the same though. Keep going! Keep moving forward!
14. Building Muscle versus Burning Fat
Running on an incline will work your muscles more, while running on a leveled surface will focus more on burning fat. Depending on how you’d like to shape your body, learn which types of areas you want to put more of your energy into. Also, eating protein right after a run can help build muscle. If you don’t want to gain muscle then try waiting at least 20 minutes after your run to eat high protein foods like lean meats, eggs, or yogurt. Don’t skip on the water though!
15. Learn to love the burn.
The fact that many people hate running is more than understandable. The pain, the soreness, the aching, the gasping for air. But the great thing about running is that once you get past all of that you start to improve. You feel yourself start to conquer your run and transform your body. Each run reveals your progress, your goals being met and then surpassed. After that initial pain you begin to feel elated and start loving the burn. Because that burn is the thing that can change your life for the better.
No matter who you are, what your body looks like, what weight you are, how healthy you claim to be, anyone can run. Running, as corny as it sounds, feels like freedom. It’s something that is brought upon completely by the self. You move, you run, you grow, you succeed. Running is a fantastic opportunity to set a goal, work hard, and then achieve your goal. Although at times it can feel painful, and at times you’ll want to give up, that runner’s high you get after pushing past the pain and deciding for yourself that you will make it to the finish line is enough to make you want to keep running and over time fall in love with it.
*Article published originally on healthygrad.org.