Want to change your morning run from miserable to enjoyable?
Unless you’re Usain Bolt
himself, running may never be a ‘breeze’ necessarily. But, there are ways to make running easier and more enjoyable.
Whether you’re a once-a-month newbie or 5-times-a-week champ, read these top 10 tips to improve your overall fitness and running experience.
Find the Right Running Shoes
So you’re getting more serious about running. You go out a couple of times a week now to run around the block several times. Trouble is, those old Nikes just aren’t what they used to be.
You come home with blisters on your heels; your feet are in pain; and when it rains, your socks become sopping wet from water seeping through holey soles.
It’s time for a new pair of shoes.
When choosing the right running shoe, there are several factors to consider:
- Smooth and even: Make sure when you try your shoes on there aren’t any areas where your feet feel peculiar pressure or binding.
- No heel-slip: Test the shoe to ensure it doesn’t slip or slide on your heel when you walk or run in it.
- A Quality Saddle: The “saddle” is the top part of the shoe. Make sure that this is secure, but allows your foot to arch naturally without hindrance.
- Give those toes some room!: Make sure the shoe allows for full movement of your toes and is not restrictive in width or length around your toes.
- Not all shoes are created equal: Brands like Altra and Hoka have risen in popularity over the last several years. When buying a shoe, go with what is the highest quality, not necessarily what is the most popular.
Nail that Running Form!
Want to really fly when you run? Well then…
First, head down to Greece.
Second, buy some of those little sandals with wings.
Okay, so maybe we can’t give you the secret to human flight. But, we can teach you a thing or two about good running form. If you nail your running form, you may not fly, but you can begin to “glide.”
Here are a few things to focus on:
Don’t be a ‘heel’: Avoid landing on your heel when you run. Land instead in the middle of your foot, and roll forward to spring off the ball and toes. This will decrease pain and impact while increasing endurance.
Keep your arms at 90 degrees: Some runners have the tendency to run with their forearms angled upward toward their chest. This can create tightness in your chest and shoulders, as well as hamper your momentum. Instead, keep your arms at 90 degrees.
Keep your arms at your sides: Any side-to-side or diagonal swinging of your arms will impact your speed and efficiency. Swing your arms directly back-to-front, pumping them in sequence with your stride. This will add to your whole body’s momentum, improving your speed.
Avoid bouncing: Up and down bouncing while running can take up a lot of energy. Instead, focus on channeling all motion forward and let your feet “glide” close to the ground to improve efficiency.
Set Your Pace
Be fair to yourself, and do what is best for the present. You can always increase your pace over time.
Don’t compare your pace to anyone else’s. Comparisons typically only serve to hinder progress and create insecurity. We are all at different levels. So, compare yourself to the one person it is most helpful to compare to. Yourself.
It’s about steady progress over time. Don’t get frustrated if some days are more difficult than others. Just remember that the more you run, the more capable you will become. It’s all about practice, growth, and simply doing it; no matter what the short-term outcome.
Decide on Your Exercise Approach
What’s the best ‘bang for your buck’ when it comes to running and weight loss? How about running for strength and endurance?
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an excellent approach for weight loss, strength, and endurance.
For those who don’t know, HIIT is essentially high-intensity sprints done at intervals between low-intensity recovery. For example, one could run for 20 seconds of 80–90% effort, followed by 40 seconds of 20–40% effort. Then repeat this for multiple sets.
HIIT can produce similar benefits to moderate exercise in around half the time. It can help you build more muscle due to higher intensity and burn more calories due to a higher afterburn effect.
In addition, it can yield greater cardiovascular improvement.
That being said, if HIIT isn’t the thing for you, you will experience benefits from running whatever type of workout you do; whether that be HIIT or moderate jogging.
“You Are What You Eat”
Remember that some of your greatest efforts for improving your running performance and enjoyment aren’t necessarily done on the pavement or in the gym.
It all starts and ends in the kitchen.
Eating a high-sugar, high-fat (bad fat) diet and fast food can lead to low energy and less strength and endurance.
Eating nutrient-dense, whole foods leads to high energy, good mood, and many other health benefits. Good fats keep your blood running smoothly. Fruits and veggies keep your energy high. Quality protein-rich foods keep your muscles fed and pumped.
If you want to be a great runner, you need to be a great eater.
Make a Running Schedule
While sporadic running may yield some benefit, having a consistent, measured schedule is always best.
Set a goal. Perhaps you have a race you are preparing for or a personal fitness goal that is important to you. Maybe you just want to feel good each day. In any case, set a goal that is meaningful and motivating enough for you to be consistent in your exercise. Then, with that goal in mind, set up a running schedule you will stick to.
That last part bears repeating: set up a running schedule you will stick to. Be fair to yourself. Know your past habits and performance, and choose a running schedule that is a good match for you. Preferably one that stretches you and is a little outside your comfort zone, but not so far that you’ll procrastinate and avoid it.
If you haven’t exercised in 6 months, and you want to become an Olympic triathlete, that’s great! You won’t go from ‘zero to hero’ in a week, a month, or even a year. So start small and work your way up.
If you are starting from square one, a goal to run 0.5 miles two or three times a week is a good goal. Then after 3 or 4 weeks, increase it to 0.75 miles or 1 mile. Then stay consistent and keep increasing the exercise goal every 3 or 4 weeks. Before you know it, you’ll be a running machine.
Of course, this is only an example. It really depends on your level of fitness and capability. Do what’s right for you.
Never Skip Leg Dayyy!
- You’ll have more endurance. When you engage in strength training regularly, it will increase the size of your blood vessels. Bigger blood vessels = easier blood flow.
- You’ll burn fat more effectively if you have more muscle. Less fat = easier running.
- You can carry more. You’re carrying your own body weight every time you run. More muscle = greater carrying capacity.
When it comes to leg day, especially if you’re already running each week, don’t overdo it. One to two times per week is just fine, depending on the level of intensity. If you work your legs every other day and run multiple times a week, you may burn out or get injured. Just get a great leg pump 1–2 times per week and you’ll be amazed at your increased running capability.
“Friends don’t let friends skip leg day.” — A Good Friend
So, get over to that gym. It’s time to get PUMPED! Nooowww! (Arnold Schwarzenegger voice)
What is the best way to breathe while you run?
You need a lot of air when you run. Breathe in and out through both your nose and mouth. This will allow you to inhale oxygen in greater amounts and exhale carbon dioxide more quickly.
Remember, also, to breathe at a steady pace. Breathing faster takes up more energy and can lead to light-headedness. Not breathing enough certainly doesn’t help either. Keep your breath at a deliberate, slow, even pace. Breathe through both your nose and mouth at the same time and keep it consistent and controlled.
Find a Running Buddy
Let’s be honest, sometimes it can be hard to get out of bed at 6 in the morning to go torture yourself on the treadmill. Having someone to be tortured with you makes it better!
Is that sadistic?…
If you know someone who runs or would like to run, ask them if they’d like to start running with you. Tell them you could use an accountability buddy. If they agree, you’ll both have someone counting on you to be at the gym or the running trail at the proper time.
Then, in the morning, when you’d rather hit that snooze button one more time, you’ll think of your friend who’s counting on you. You’ll want to avoid the embarrassment, shame, and judgment for not showing up. That will keep you coming.
While that sounds negative, we all need to start somewhere. Even negative motivation can keep someone consistent. If you stay consistent, the negative motivation will likely evolve over time into a positive one.
Eventually, you may start coming to the gym in the morning not because you want to avoid internal shame or external judgment from your running buddy, but because you actually like to run and enjoy the results you personally experience. Plus, you may even gain a friend in the process.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
When it comes to physical fitness and health, your mental game is everything. Don’t underestimate the power of self-compassion and celebrating your victories.
When you hit a goal, celebrate! Pat yourself on the back and feel proud. No matter how small the goal is.
You’ll drive yourself mad if you spend all your time thinking about how you could have been better, could have run faster, or weren’t able to reach your goal. Keep beating up on yourself, and you might stop running altogether.
Consistency takes reasonability and positivity. Those who are the most consistent are usually those who can see things realistically with a side of optimism and a focus on long-term growth rather than short-term results.
When it comes to health, fitness, and running, consistency is key. So enjoy the journey, celebrate the victories, and simply show up!
We hope a few of these tips help you out along the way!
Want to improve your running experience even more? Nutrition is number one. Drink a Ruvi every day
to get 4 servings of complete fruits and vegetables. When you do, your energy will shoot up and you will fell lighter, more vibrant, and more motivated to make healthy decisions (including getting out and exercising!)