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10 Ways To Make Running Feel Easier

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.

(more details later, as time permits) ******************************************* You probably think that you already know everything that you need to know about the Central Park reservoir. After all, everyone has heard of New York City, and most people (except the residents of certain boroughs that we won't mention by name) assume that "New York City" means "Manhattan." And if you've heard of Manhattan, then you've heard of Central Park ... and if you know about Central Park, then you know about the reservoir in the middle of the park. What more is there to know? Well, actually, there's a lot you should know, beginning with the fact that its official name is now "The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir," in honor of the late widow of President John Kennedy. But you can call it the Central Park Reservoir, because that was its original name, and that's what most of us here still do call it. (We also insist on calling the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge by its original moniker, "the Triboro Bridge," but who knows how long that will last.) More importantly, it's not even a reservoir any more ... or, to be more precise, it became a "decommissioned" reservoir in 1993, when it was deemed obsolete because of a new water-main under 79th Street that connected to the Third Water Tunnel. (There was also some concern that the reservoir might eventually become contaminated because of the nasty habit of the rowdy bridge-and-tunnel crowd -- aka visitors from New Jersey, Long Island, and other 'burbs -- to pee in the reservoir after getting thoroughly sloshed on green beer and Ripple wine every St. Patrick's Day.  But we don't really like to talk about that, because they eventually go home, and we make a lot of money from the event.) So basically, the Central Park so-called reservoir is just a big pond with a billion gallons of water (give or take a gallon or two), with colorful Kanzan cherry trees along one section, a bunch of rhododendrons along another section, and lots of animals (mallards, Canadian geese, coots, loons, cormorants, wood ducks, raccoons, grebes, herons, and egrets) who hang out in the general area. It also has a 1.58-mile jogging path, which means that you can almost always find dozens of people jogging, walking, or racing around the park; and only the cynics would remind you that game show host Jack Barry died while jogging around the reservoir in 1984. You might think that the reservoir was originally a pond or a small lake, or that it was fed and replenished by some kind of underground stream. But in fact, the reservoir was built during the period of 1858-1862 by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, as part of the overall design of Central Park. It was never a source of water itself, nor was it a "collecting" reservoir; its purpose instead was to receive water from upstate New York, via the Croton Aqueduct, and distribute it to the thirsty residents of Manhattan. All of that predated the work of Olmstead and Vaux; the Croton aqueduct was begun in 1837, and began delivering water to New York City in 1842. So much for the history of the place. Like I said, it's basically just a big pond in the middle of Manhattan; but it happens to be a very beautiful place, especially with the skyline of the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, and central Manhattan so visible from different vantage points. During the brief week or two that the cherry trees are in blossom, it's almost as beautiful as the famous stretch of trees in Washington; and it's a peaceful place for a stroll throughout the spring, summer, and fall. It's even beautiful in the dead of winter, when much of the water has frozen over, and when the jogging path is basically empty... On three consecutive days in mid-to-late August, I walked around the reservoir with my camera, doing my best to capture some of the peaceful beauty, as well as the activity of the joggers and walkers and tourists. On the first day, I walked clockwise around the reservoir -- because everyone else was following the posted rules, and was running/walking counter-clockwise, which made it easier for me to photograph them. Then I came back the next day and walked the circumference again, but this time in the officially-sanctioned counter-clockwise direction. And then I decided that all of the still photos had failed to capture the beauty of the fountain that sprays a plume of water high into the air, as well as the constant motion of all those joggers and walkers ... so I came back for a third lap around the park, but this time with my camera set to "video" instead of "still." I've done my best to winnow all of the photos and videos down to a representative set; but to truly appreciate the beauty of the place, you'll have to come back and see it for yourself. By the way, don't ask me what a grebe is. I have no idea, and I can only hope that I haven't stepped on one by mistake as I've walked around the reservoir from time to time...

2.

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:

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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.

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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.

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David Dack

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