Runners—whether you are a newbie coming for the first time to the sport or a veteran runner who has been around the block for quite some time—must do whatever they can to keep running consistent and enjoyable over the long term.
Therefore, today I decided to share with you some quick and practical tips to help ensure a good run—regardless of your current fitness level and training goals.
The rules I’m sharing with you here are (almost) universal, so regardless of your current fitness level and training goals, the practical guidelines below should prove super useful.
In fact, with the help of these practical tips, you will never have to endure a bad run again.
Image Credit – Andy Dejesus via Flickr.
7 Surefire Tips to Help Ensure A Great Run
So without further ado, here are some tips to ensure a great running workout, regardless of your current fitness level or training goals.
1. Develop proper form
Even if you are not in the sport of running for competition, you really need to start practicing and developing good form. The right form is critical for preventing a plethora of running injuries and becoming more efficient at running, helping you run longer, faster and train harder with minimum trouble.
In my experience the best traits of proper running form are:
- Run as tall as possible while keeping your back straight, head up and feet under your body’s center of gravity the entire time.
- Keep your body relaxed the entire time by unclenching your jaw and fists, loosening up your facial muscles and releasing any tension you feel.
- Improve stride by improving your cadence by aiming for 170 to 180 strikes per minutes (or more for speedwork and racing)
2. Dress Right
You shouldn’t run in your suit, or in jeans unless you are looking for trouble.
Therefore, to ensure a good run, opt for running-specific clothing that’s made of technical materials and avoid cotton because it tends to soak up moisture, and once it’s wet, it tends to stay wet.
Clothing that’s made of wicking materials is vital because it can help you pull moisture away from your skin, helping stay warm and prevent bad cases of blisters and chaffing.
You don’t need to invest any expensive clothing or high caliber brand to stay comfortable while running, but you want the right clothing for the job.
Plus, make sure to dress for weather that’s actually 20 degrees hotter than it’s outside. That’s what’s know as the “20 degrees rule” and it’s key to avoiding over bulking while running.
3. Get The Right Shoes
Running in the wrong pair is one of the leading causes of running pain and injury. So you’d better off get this right or suffer the consequences.
To get it right, head to the nearest running store, and have your gait and foot type analyzed by the experts there to determined which pair fits you the best. Just keep in mind that you don’t need to invest a fortune here. $60 to $90 is enough to buy you a good pair that ‘s gonna last you for quite some time.
Keep in mind that the average lifespan of a running shoe is somewhere between 400 to 600 miles—depending on your stride, the terrains you run, etc. For most people, that amounts to 5 to 6 months of regular running.
Plus, make sure to have the right socks. They must be made of wicking fabrics that help keep your footsies dry and warm.
4. Warm Up Right
Whether you are going for a short run around the block, or a long trail run, warming up right is vital for a safe and injury-free run. And if you are in the habit of skipping it, then you are flirting with disaster.
Therefore, make sure to start your runs with a solid warm-up. Begin your session with a 5 to 10 minutes of slow jogging to increase your heart rate and fire up your muscles, getting them ready for the task ahead.
And in case you are planning to do any sort of speedwork, such as sprints or hill reps, then perform a dynamic warm-up routine that includes lunges, squats, inchworms and the sort.
Instead of stretching, do body looseness like knee circles, ankle rolls, and hip rotation to get your body loose without putting too much strain on your cold muscles and joints.
Here is the dynamic warm-up you need.
5. Keep your Tanks Humming
To run at your best, you need to keep your energy tanks full of the energy you need for the run. Otherwise, if you run on empty, then, just like an engine, you gonna run into trouble.
Image Credit – Puchasplus via Flickr
The amount of food you eat before a run depends, for the most part, on when you are running and the type of a workout you are planning to do.
Here are some general rules to help you make the right pre-run choices.
- Wait for at least two to three hours following a big meal before you start running. This will help give your digestive enough time to do its thing so you could have the energy you need for the workout without causing any GI distress issues.
- For short and easy runs, you don’t need any fuel. Running on empty is fine.
- Choose the right pre-run snacks. Opt for something your digestive system can easily handle, such as a banana, a handful of dried fruit, or smoothie.
6. Stay Hydrated
I don’t care when or where you run, keeping your body well hydrated is a cardinal rule. In fact, if you are a runner and you have been suffering from muscles cramps, headaches, and fatigue, then dehydration might be the culprit.
Proper intake of fluids help move toxins from the body, regulates body temperate, reduces inflammation caused by damaged cells and it’s integral to almost every metabolic process in the body.
Water, after all, is crucial to life.
To stay hydrated for your runs, you need to stay well hydrated throughout the day.
As a general guideline, aim to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces each day. So, for instance, if you weight 180 pounds, shoot for at least 90 ounces of water a day. That might seem as hard goal to achieve, but with practice, you will eventually make daily hydration a part and parcel of your daily life.
Plus, for longer runs, take a water bottle with you or plan your running routes around convenience stores, or places where you know you can find water.
You can run with handheld water bottle (or while using a hydration belt), but you can also plan your running route where you know you will find water, such as convenience stores or fountains.
7. Listen to Your Body
In the end, it’s really up to you. You are in charge of your life and you call the shots on what works the best for you.
But to do that, you’ll need to listen to your body and adjust your approach accordingly. No one is going to do that for you, other than you.
Your body is wise and it’s always sending you signals trying to tell you where you are at the moment; you just need to be willing to listen and take its feedback into account and practice it right.
If you continue with running—especially if you do any form of intense intervals, such hill reps or sprints—while experiencing acute overtraining symptoms, then you are heading in the wrong direction and you are actually increasing the risks of injury or exacerbating an existing one.
Therefore, I urge to learn how to listen to your body and interpret its feedback the right way. This is an important skill to learn, and one that will save you a lot of trouble and undue pain.
Featured Image Credit – Joana Lopez via Flickr