Running is both easy and difficult at the same time. It’s not just a physical challenge. It requires mental fitness, strategic knowledge, and even the right gear. We’ve compiled a list of our top ideas for how to become a better runner. Whether you’re a beginner or veteran, there is likely something here for you.
Find someone to run with
Find a partner who is as committed as you when it comes to running. Not only will this friend keep your motivation high, but you are less likely to skip workouts when you have a date with a running buddy.
Avoid comparing yourself to others
When you begin running, there may be a tendency for you to compare yourself to others. This is not good, because it can take you away from your own goals. It is best to remember that you are running for yourself. When you accept this, you’ll establish your own pace and avoid pushing yourself too hard.
Define your running goals
Some people run to keep in shape, while others run to become more competitive in their sport, and others do it for aesthetics. It is important that you determine your goals before establishing a routine. This way you’ll have a clear idea of where you need to go so that you have a path to maintain.
Define a strategy or schedule for running
Once you’ve defined your goals per the previous tip, next you need to lay out a strategy to get there. Your plan should include milestones and other measurables to track progress. Include active rest and supporting workouts like strength training and mobility and active rest like yoga or walking.
Tell your friends and family about running
Before starting running, it is best if you make your family and friends aware of your plans. This way, they can support you and hold you accountable should you start to slip. Aside from that, some of your friends or members of your family may even become your running buddies.
Watch runners on television
Watching professional runners on TV is one of the best ways to maintain motivation and observe technique. Keep track of the competition schedule and watch when you have an opportunity.
Think about your running goals before going to sleep
Just before closing your eyes at night, think about your running goals and how you will achieve them. Don’t let it fester and keep you up at night; just use this as an opportunity to keep your goals in front of you.
Be prepared for tough days
Remember that while you are trying to make progress in your running, there may be times when it seems too hard to achieve even your short term goals. When this happens, don’t get discouraged, but maintain motivation. Be optimistic because the next day is likely to be better.
Run with music
If you want to have more energy while running, try listening to upbeat music while doing it. Music can boost your energy level. Aside from that, if you are listening to music that you really like, your mind can drift away from the difficulty of running. When you come to, you might be surprised at the distance you covered while “in the zone.”
Remove negative words from your vocabulary
Use positive thoughts when you are running. Get rid of negative words from your vocabulary, such as “cannot, never, and won’t.” By using positive words, you’ll become more confident that you are indeed capable of hitting your goals in time. You’ll focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.
Expect pain or soreness
The first few days after you start a new routine or increase the intensity, you may experience some muscle pain and soreness for a few days afterward. This is normal and healthy. Your body is acclimating to its new lifestyle. When the soreness goes away, your body will be stronger and ready to attack the day!
Educate yourself about running
Learn more about what you are getting yourself involved with. Learning more about running can be done online by visiting websites for more information and watching YouTube videos from experts. Connect with local clubs or organizations to glean advice from local runners as well.
Wear the right shoes
When shopping for running shoes, keep in mind that all shoes are not created equal for all runners. Not only are some shoes not ideal for running at all, but a shoe that works for one runner might not work for another. Look for a local shoe store in your area that specializes in running or athletic shoes and go there to have your foot measured and fitted to see which shoes are best for your feet. The right shoe will fit well, but not too tight. It’ll provide support and stability to improve your running and protect from overuse injuries.
Wear the right socks
Although most people focus more on buying the right kind of shoes for running, it’s also important to have the right kind of socks as well. When you use regular cotton socks for running, it can lead to blisters on your feet, which is bad news. Make sure that you are buying running socks to pair with your shoes so that you can run comfortably. Consider toe socks if you have issues with crowding in your toe box or pain or calluses around toes.
Ladies: do not go with cheap bras
When it comes to running, if you are a lady, you should provide adequate support to your chest. It is best that you purchase a bra that is designed for running that is made with good and quality materials. Even if it costs as much as your running shoes, a quality bra is still a very good investment.
Wear clothes made especially for running
Running can become a more fun and exciting activity if the clothes you are wearing are comfortable and functional. Wearing the right running clothes doesn’t only mean being comfortable. Your clothes should also make you look good so that you’re more motivated to put them on and get to running. Clothes can be functional as well. There are lots of shirts and shorts with pockets and holes for things like phones, money, or headphones.
Shop for running clothes online
While searching for running clothes, you can browse locally, but look online as well. Internet shopping provides more convenient and cheaper options than your local stores. Fit is not as important with clothes as it is with shoes, so it’s safe to try something that you haven’t put on yet. If you don’t like it, most online retailers make exchanges easy – as long as you have only tried briefly and not actually used the clothes!
Know your ideal running speed
No matter your reason for running, be mindful of your speed. If you’re running for longer distance time records, you need to find a good cadence that is ideal for your body. A slow cadence will result in wasted energy. A fast cadence can lead to failure.
If your focus is a casual run and not a personal record, the conversation test is a good measure for proper speed. If you have slightly increased breathing and can hold a conversation without taking deep breaths, then your pace is appropriate.
Listen to your stomach
Since running can boost your metabolism, it can also make your body process the foods you eat faster. There may be times when you get hungry earlier than usual. With that, you should listen to your stomach when it says that it is hungry. Feed your body the energy it needs to fuel your runs.
Relax while you are running
Running is not a good time to bunch up your shoulders towards your ears. When you run, it is best to relax your body and mind so that they can focus energy on your run. Let your jaw hang loose and shake out your arms and hands to loosen up your stride.
Think in minutes when running
One of the biggest mistakes that some runners have is focusing too heavily on miles covered. Instead of focusing on distance, focus on time instead. Time is easier for your brain to measure and anticipate, lessening to risk of disappointment when you’re just not as far as you thought you’d be.
Make running another way of meeting new friends
Some of the obvious benefits of running are improved health and better body image, but what if it also meant more friends? Adding running to your life can mean finding new running buddies with a shared interest. Look for local runners clubs or groups at fitness centers. If you’re particularly outgoing, you can even strike up a conversation with a fellow runner that you come across on your running path.
Sign up for a race
Signing up for a race can stoke some serious motivation in any runner. This is because you don’t want to be the last person to cross the finish line. Aside from that, finishing the race can motivate you to run more. If you see an upcoming race that you know you can complete, go ahead and sign up for it. Race-Find.com is a good place to find local races.
Don’t let running overtake your life
Developing a running addiction may seem like a good thing, but if this is you, keep it in check. Don’t let running get in the way of social activities or time spent with loved ones. Make sure that you properly balance your schedule of running and other important matters.
Don’t carry loose change when you are running
One of the most annoying things that you can experience is loose change knocking around while you run. Don’t carry loose change while running. Aside from annoying you, it can also distract others who are running alongside you.
Go easy on the conversation
It is normal to find yourself talking more about running, even at work, or at your own dining table. However, don’t overdo it, since some people may get tired of hearing the same topic from you all day. Your interest is through the roof, but this may not be true of who you’re talking to.
Increase your mileage at a reasonable rate
When it comes to running, one of your goals may be to increase your mileage, and this is a good thing. However, don’t increase your mileage too rapidly, or you could suffer from overtraining or injury. A good rule of thumb is to not increase by more than 10% each week.
The running motion can cause parts of your body to rub together and generate pain that you didn’t know was possible. This can lead to blisters and even bleeding nipples. To prevent this, make use of clothing that reduces friction. BodyGlide makes a great product to reduce friction while running.
Run on soft trails on your regular running days
When it’s a regular running day, and you don’t have a specific trail or track to use, try to run on a soft trail or surface. This will reduce lower leg pain and well as shin splints. Thus, it is best to go through soft trails whenever you are training, and only go through the asphalt whenever you are running on a race. Many (but not all!) treadmills have good cushioning built into them as well.
Separate your difficult runs
Running two hard days straight is not a good idea. It can put too much strain on everything – your muscles, your joints, your cardiovascular system, and even your brain. Aside from the excess strain, you’re not giving your body enough time to recover. Insert at least a day of separation between your high-intensity runs.
Use hot and cold compress as needed
The day of, or the day after, a run, you may experience body aches or pains. To counter them, you can apply hot and cold compresses as appropriate. Cold compresses are best immediately following a run, and hot compresses are good the day or so after. The cold compress will reduce swelling or inflammation, and the hot compress will encourage blood flow for healing and recovery.
Pay attention to your running form
When you first start running, you should run lightly so that you can focus on form and impact. As you improve your form, increase your speed until you reach a proper cadence. Not only will this improve your speed and times, but it will also reduce the risk of injury.
Try trail running
Trail running is a great new activity to try something new, particularly if you’re growing bored of your current run routine. Before you go trail running, make sure you’re familiar with the area to ensure the terrain is suitable for running and you don’t get lost!
Keep your toenails in check
Don’t let your toenails get unwieldy. Your feet are, understandably, under a lot of pressure while running, and toenails that are too long run the risk of cutting into neighboring toes or breaking or tearing off. Toenail injuries can sideline you for weeks, and you don’t want that. Finding properly fitting shoes and socks can also prevent toenail injuries.
Gear up for long runs
Don’t start a long run empty-handed. Consider brining extra water, snacks or energy chews, or extra socks of lotion/vaseline for places that may experience friction or blisters.
Avoid running on paths that are sloped sideways
Running on an incline or decline is fine, but you want to avoid running on paths that are sloped considerably to the side. This places a lot of stress on your joints and can lead to injuries or falls. Flat running pathways are preferable.
Dynamic stretching before you run
Stretching is good before a run, but it may not be the stretching that comes to your mind. We’re not talking about sitting on the ground and touching your toes. Instead, do dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching involves moving your limbs around in fluid motions to loosen them up.
Do walking lunges, or stand still and swing each leg foward and backward. You can also rotate your torso from side to side. These motions will warm up your muscles and connective tissues so that they’re less prone to injury once you start your run.
Avoid the hot tub after a run
As mentioned in a previous tip, heat is good, but not immediately following your run. Heat increases blood flow, which is not something that you want after physical activity. Increased blood flow can contribute to pain and inflammation that was already stimulated by your run. Give your body at least a few hours post-run before you do something like jump in a hot tub.
Race day is not the day to try new things
Wearing brand new clothing, eating new types of foods, and trying out a new pair of shoes are things that are worth trying, but not on race day. Trying out new food items on the day of the race can shock your body. If you are going to wear something new, it might be too late to realize that it is not comfortable. Stick to stuff that you know works on your big day.
Safety on the road
If you are running on a busy road, don’t plug your ears with loud music. Either invest in some bone induction headphones like AfterShokz or go without music for that run.
Also, if you’re running and you see a car coming, do not assume that car can see you. Give the car more than enough room to pass by. The driver might not be paying attention and drift your direction.
Double knot your shoelaces
Double knotting your shoelaces just before you start running is a good safety measure. Shoelaces can come undone even if they start a race secure. Double-knotted shoelaces will keep your feet on the ground.
Set realistic goals
When you set goals, it is important that you set realistic ones. This is because goals that can be too difficult to achieve can do more harm than good. Set achievable goals, and once you achieve them, set some more difficult goals farther out.
We hope you enjoyed our tips for how to become a better runner! Happy Trails!