Tuesday, September 11, 2012

20 Tips for running.

I've been running almost 6 months and it is truly has become a passion. I honestly enjoy lacing up and getting out the door. I run about 10-15 miles a week, but I'm still having a hard time calling myself a 'runner' because there are people that are running 115 miles a week and training for much bigger life events. Instead of using the "runner" label, I just say, "I run." Maybe the label will grow on me as time passes and I get better at what I'm doing....  I just don't feel as though I deserve it right now.

Anyway....I've done a lot of research about what good runners do/don't do and here's what I've learned.


1) Don't wear any cotton. It holds the sweat and creates blisters and chafing. Buy moisture wicking fabrics for everything.
I'm guilty of this. I'm on a very tight budget and found cheap racer-back tanks that I run in. Some of them chafe under my arms, so I put vaseline on before a run.

2) Buy a good sports bra. Just because your friend likes one or it has a fancy description doesn't mean it's what you like and need.
I'm still on the hunt for a bra that I absolutely love. I've tried Wal-Mart, Target, UnderArmour... I'm not in love with any of the 7 or 8 that I run in.

3) Wear shirts with little to no seams.
Again, I'm guilty of this. A tight budget doesn't allow much money for expensive running gear to get sweaty in.

4) Increase running from week to week by only 10%.
This is the best way to prevent injury! I didn't do this at first and ended up with horrible shin splints!

5) Always stretch before and after.
The internet is your friend to find stretches for certain aches and muscles. Make sure to stretch shins, calves, hams, quads, etc. A lot of people forget the stretch after the run and it's very important!

6) Cross or Strength train on your off days.

7) Engage your abs while running.
This makes a huge difference in your stamina, breathing and posture!

8) Swing your arms forward and back, not in an x across your chest. Hold your hands loose, not clenched in a fist. I once read to imagine running with potato chips in your hands.... you don't want to crush them.
Keep your arms parallel to your body and use the swing as your run up a hill. Be conscious of the swing in your run! Keep your arms at waist level and keep them loose. You shouldn't look like a chicken trying to fly : )

9) Let your legs do the work. Try to keep your head level and make your legs push you forward, not up and down. Don't waste your energy going vertically by bouncing. Use your muscles to go horizontally!  Makes sense, doesn't it?

10) Lean into a headwind. It reduces resistance.

11) Train in all conditions. I had my first 'rain train' last week. It wasn't too bad!

12) Stay hydrated before, during and after. You should take in 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes during your runs. Runners running faster than 8-minute miles should drink 6 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes. A pounding headache after a workout can mean your body lacks fluids.  I enjoy a glass of chocolate milk after a run to help prevent cramps and try to drink plenty in the day before a long run. I've never taken a drink with me-- even on long runs--- but I probably need to learn to.

13) Eat carbs before a run, but not so much that you feel stuffed, and it should be a decent amount of time before lacing up. The right or wrong food can make or break your run. Greasy food or that high in fiber can cause torture to your belly and ruin a run. Think about what you're eating on a run day..

14) Have a plan for your run. Know the distance you want to achieve and stick to it. Your mind gives up before your body does.
I follow a mini-marathon 9-week guide. You might follow a Couch to 5K (C25K), 10K, 15K or full marathon guide.

15) Change your route.
I'm guilty of sticking to a certain route and getting somewhat bored on occassion, so I try to switch it up quite often. But--- always make sure that someone knows the general area that you're running in and knows what time to expect you to be back at home. Safety first!

16) Find apps for your phone or ipod that you like and use them.
I use MapMyRun and love it! It gives the distance, time and speed.

17) Invest in good shoes for your foot. Again--- just because someone else likes a brand or design doesn't mean that's what your foot/ankle needs. Some ankles/arches need more stability for pronation than others.
I invested quite a bit of a money in running shoes that don't stabilize what I now know are my pronating ankles---another reason for my shin splints. Big mistake. Big. Huge! I have to go shopping now. (Any Pretty Woman fans??)  I've been taping my foot for the past few runs and it's really helping, but I will have to invest in new shoes before too long.

18) Maintain good posture. Keep your gaze out in front of you, not down at your feet. Lean forward from your ankles. Use a mid-foot strike. Remember to keep your back/spine/torso straight and your shoulders away from your ears. Shake out any tension. I use windows and my shadow to watch my posture.

19) Breathe. Find the type of breathing that works best for you: belly breathing, exhaling when your left foot strikes the ground, etc. A side-stitch might be a sign that you need to change your breathing.

20) Run only if you enjoy it.
Running takes a major toll on your body and has to be something you love to want to keep doing it. It's not for everyone. In my opinion, if you don't love it from the beginning, it won't grow on you.

Until next time...
Happy Running!

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