The first Wednesday in June is National Running Day, where athletes and runners come together to celebrate their passion for the sport. While the health benefits of running are endless; it helps in managing stress and heart health, burns calories and aids in weight loss, and can even be beneficial in promoting muscle health, it can sometimes be hard to stay motivated when running indoors or on days when we’re just not feeling up to it. In honor of National Running Day, we compiled a list of our favorite tips to make the most of every run. So celebrate the holiday and hit the ground running!
1. Walk before before you run. Start off your running routine by warming up with a walk or slight jog, but don’t stretch until after your run. Stretching cold muscles can actually do more harm than good.
2. Don’t forget to hydrate! Your run can come to a screeching halt if you set out without the proper hydration. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run.
3. Make use of the time you have. Even on days when you don’t have time to devote to a full workout, try and squeeze in at least a quick ten to fifteen minute run. Running a little is better than not running at all.
4. If the shoe fits…Make sure you choose the proper fit when shopping for running shoes. It is recommended to buy shoes slightly longer and wider than your bigger foot, and avoid shoes with a more pointed toe to avoid toe discomfort while on longer runs.
5. Change it up! Running can become mundane pretty quickly, so why not mix it up! Add hills, change your pace, or check out new trails if you typically run outdoors.
6. Move to the music! Workouts are so much easier if you’re listening to music that motivates you, and studies have proven that performance is increased when listening to music with a tempo of 120 to 140 beats per minute (most dance or rock songs have tempos in this range). So make a playlist of upbeat tunes that match your desired pace and get moving!
7. Listen to your body. A workout that leaves you a little sore can be a good thing. However, no workout should result in real pain. Back off at the first sign of any injury. Remember, it’s better to take a day or two off than have to take a month or two off later.
8. Bring a friend. While some people prefer to run alone, running with a friend can be beneficial on those days when exercise is the last thing we want to do. Knowing that someone is expecting you will motivate you to get out of bed and hit the pavement!
9. Fuel up. What you eat before your run is crucial to a beneficial workout. While you don’t want to get too full beforehand, you shouldn’t run on an empty stomach. Foods that provide a good balance of carbs, protein, and fat such as a slice of wheat toast with peanut butter or a cup of heart-healthy oatmeal will give you energy without slowing you down.
10. Gear up. What you wear on a run may not seem all that important, but if you’re not comfortable, it can be much harder to stay on track. Choose sweat-wicking fabrics with flat side seams to prevent chafing or scratching. Clothing with compression panels can also be beneficial in reducing vibrations in muscles, allowing them to perform longer. Thick socks are also a must in preventing painful blisters, and women should make sure to wear a comfortable sports bra that provides adequate support for maximum impact.
11. Check your form. Be careful not to bounce too much or overstride. Don’t allow your foot to get ahead of your knee, and keep your upper body straight with your hands relaxed.
12. Just breathe. Prevent cramping by practicing the “belly breathe.” Take air into your belly and exhale with a slight resistance through pursed lips. Be sure to keep breathing steady, and be careful not to hold your breath.
13. Check your pulse. Test your resting heart rate by counting how many times your heart beats per minute as soon as you wake up. Check it daily to monitor your RHR. If your heart is beating 10 or more bpm faster than usual, you have not yet recovered from your last run and it’s time to take a rest day.
14. Most importantly…have FUN! Running can be fun if you find the running style that’s right for you. Find a place where you feel comfortable, and do what works for you! Setting mini goals for yourself can also be a great motivational tool.
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” –Dean Karnazes
Happy National Running Day!