I love running. It’s one of the best cardiovascular exercises out there and it can be done anywhere, at anytime and by almost anyone…
I can go on and on…
But truth be told, for beginners, running sucks. During the early weeks and months of training, running is super tough and can take a toll on your body and mind. In fact, that’s why a lot of people either hesitate to start running, or give up only after a few runs or weeks of training.
I used to “hate” running too. But as I time progressed and I got fitter and stronger, eventually running became easier and I started falling in love with it.
10 Ways To Make Running Feel Easier
Therefore, today I decided to share with you some practical tips and advice on how to make running easier—especially if you are just starting out and want to build the right base from the get-go.
Inside this post, you are going to learn a lot of practical strategies to help make running more enjoyable and comfortable, regardless of your current level fitness level and training background.
1. Start Slow
Starting slow is the most important rule and it works every time—regardless of your current fitness level and training background.
If you are a newcomer to running, then you need to start slow; otherwise, if you overextend yourself and do too much too soon, then you will increase the risks of injury and burnouts.
Therefore, to start on the right foot, ease into your runs and start picking up the pace once you’ve built enough stamina. As a result, make sure to slow down enough so you are breathing faster than you if just walking, but not grasping for air with each breath.
When you slow down, this will help you focus on developing proper running form and learning how to listen to your body the right way, which makes your runs more efficient and prevents a plethora of injury.
2.Take Walk Breaks
Your ego will try to stand in the way but don’t let it, instead make sure to take walk breaks while running whenever you feel the need to.
Adding these walking breaks into your runs can help you recover and keep a good pace throughout your workout. It helps build power and endurance without doing too much by giving your body the chance to recover.
So next time you feel that you are doing too much in the middle of a run, slow down and walk. Walk until you start feeling things are under control, then pick up the pace again. And yes, you can still call yourself a runner, even if you take plenty of walking breaks.
Here is a walk-run program to follow.
3. Peer Up
Misery loves company. And one of the best ways to help you make running easier is to have someone with whom to share the agony.
Plus, this will not only make running more enjoyable but will also hold you accountable for your action, helping you stay consistent over the long haul.
Therefore, you don’t have to suffer alone. Instead, peer up with a friend, family member, coworker or training buddy and try scheduling, at least, one to two sessions run per week with them.
Just make sure that you are both on the same page about your running goals and fitness level; otherwise, it’s a mismatch, and you are heading for the wrong turn.
4. Reward Yourself
I’m a big fan of using incentives to increase motivation while running or doing any other form of activity that may seem like a chore.
So come up with a handy list of the things you enjoy the most and pick from it every once in a while—especially when reaching a particular benchmark or running goal, whether it’s mileage, speed, weight, performance, you name it.
Here is a list of things to do: treat yourself to a vacation, a night out, a dinner at a fancy restaurant, a massage, new running shoes, a new dress, binge-watch your favorite show, etc.
Nonetheless, please keep in mind that food is not on the list (unless it’s a cheating meal). You should never reward yourself with food since doing so can be counterproductive and actually cause more harm than good—especially if you are trying to lose weight.
5. Strength Train
Regular strength training will not only help you burn fat and build muscle, but will also make running more easier by adding strength and power to key running muscles such as the glutes, quadriceps, calves, hamstrings and the core.
Therefore, make sure to perform at least two strength sessions per week. Do plenty of squats, deadlifts, planks, walking lunges and burpees.
Here are five strength routines to try:
6. Smile and Relax
Did you know that even if you fake a smile, your brain will respond as if you are actually smiling, and good-feel chemicals will be released as a result. In fact, study shows that the mere act of forcing a smile can reduce stress and promote feelings of happiness and easygoingness.
Yes, you can smile your way out of running pain.
Therefore, if your first reaction to pain is to create tension in your face and in the way you tighten up your body, then be aware of that and instead make sure to smile and relax your body from head to toe, even if you don’t feel like doing it.
Here is how: keep your face relaxed by faking a subtle smile. Unclench your fist and open up your hands and imagine you are holding a butterfly in each hand without crushing it.
You can also command your body to relax by telling it to do so. This can come in handy when you feel tightness creeping up in one particular area, such as the lower back, the shoulders or the knee.
7. Proper Shoes
Please get the right pair. This is vital for both running enjoyment and injury prevention.
A lot of pain and discomfort while running can be traced to running in the wrong shoes. Truth be told, the right running shoes will make your runs more enjoyable and less injury-prone.
So make sure to put the right pair before you head out of the door. Head to the nearest running store and let the specialists there guide you to the best pair by your running gait, individual stride, and foot type, which can reduce the risks of post-run aches and pain and make your runs much more enjoyable.
I promise you. You won’t regret investing $60 to $90 in a good pair of shoes.
Just keep in mind that an expensive pair is not always the best pair.
8. The Right Playlist
“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” This is one of my favorite quotes by the late Bob Marley and it can come in handy when you are looking to make exercise easier.
The right music can help distract you from fatigue, boost your boost, reduce the level of perceived physical exertion and increase endurance and performance.
In fact, according to a study conducted at the Brunel University in London, exercising while listening to music can help you run farther, bike longer and push harder than usual. The researcher who headed the study, Dr. Costas Karagerghis, went as far as to consider and think of music as a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.
Plus, having music on while running can make time fly by and help you enjoy your runs much more.
Therefore, come up with a playlist of the songs you love the most, or check out RockMyRun, or TempoRun to help you match songs to your running pace.
Image Credit – Tom Levold via Flickr
9. Stay in the Now
Another strategy you can follow to make running feel easier is to keep your mind and attention on the mile you are in, not on how far you have to go. This is an excellent strategy to conquer both mental and physical fatigue.
One of the things that can demotivate and start a chain of negative thoughts is looking further ahead and worrying about how many miles that you are yet to run.
Therefore, the best advice I can give you here to do your best to run in the only moment that actually exists and will ever exist: The Now.
In other words, focus on the mile you are in, not where you want to go.
As a result, keep your mind focused on the moment right now and what’s right in front of you. Use your five senses. Look thoroughly. Listen intensely. Feel the air on your face and the rest of your body. Breathe deep. Feel the fabric of your clothes. Look in front of you and absorb the whole scenery surrounding you. Study the faces of people around you.
In other words, lose your mind and come to your senses.
Truth be told, by focusing on the mile you are currently in, you can make the most out of your workout while enjoying every step of it.
10. Stay Consistent
Last but not least, if you are serious about making running easier, then you have to stick long enough to it.
The best way to make running easier on you is to run for more, apparently. There are no tricks here. No shortcuts. No silver bulleted. Just good old work and sweat.
Running, just like any other skill or sport, requires practice over a prolonged period of time to get good at.
By keeping your runs consistent, your body will start getting used to running’s high impact nature. Your body has to get used to the demands that running on places on you.
If you run on a regular basis, then you will strengthen your running muscles—key muscles needed to make running feel easier, such as the glutes, and quads, while also building your endurance and improving your running mechanics and efficiency.
Therefore, if you are serious about making your body used to the high impact nature of running, then you have to run regularly.
So, instead of going for a run every now and then, come up with a weekly training schedule and do your best to stick to it—regardless of weather conditions or any other excuse that might stand in the way of achieving training consistency.
Aim to run at least three to four time a week, four weeks a month, and 12 months a year.
That’s your commitment here.
There is no way around it.
Although the above guidelines can surely help, but when the rubber meets the road, the best way to make running feel easier, is, to run for more.
You need to run for more, period.
So pick three or four times per week and schedule your runs the same way you plan an important work meeting or family event.
Featured Image Credit – Nathan Rupert via Flickr.