Running isn’t only a great way to get in shape, it can also be a lot of fun.
However, as you begin to log in more miles, aches and pains can start popping up.
Here’s the good news. Although running may feel like a chore, there are plenty of measures you can take right now to start feeling better for your next run.
By avoiding training errors, fixing your technique, and addressing a few imbalances and weaknesses, you’ll experience the relief in no time.
If you truly love running, but your routine is taking a toll on your body, implement the following strategies to make running less difficult and more fun.
Note – Running—and other forms of exercise—should never hurt to the point where the pain forces you to change the way you move. That may indicate the onset of injury.
Listen to your body and know when and when to stop or take it down a notch. Never do too much too soon; otherwise, you’ll regret it sorely.
Invest in the Right Warm-up
Making running less painful can be as simple as starting your sessions with a decent warmup.
A proper warmup signals your body that it’s time for intense exercise. It gets your heart rate up, heats your core, and loosens ups your muscles. This not only makes the first few miles feel easier but also reduces injury risk.
Start each run with a 5-minute jog, then perform dynamic exercises, such as squats, high knees, exaggerated marches, inchworms, and lunges for another 5 minutes.
Check my dynamic warm-up routine here.
2. Take A lot of Brisk Walking Breaks
During the early weeks of your running career, nobody will expect you to be able to outrun your buddy who’s been pounding the pavement religiously for the last ten years.
Having such a goal when starting is a recipe for disaster, and you don’t want that.
If you have zero running experience and you try to run five miles, you’re likely not going to make it very far.
Start the smart way by alternating two to three minutes of jogging with three minutes of walking, then build on that. Stick to a comfortable pace. The harder it is for you to finish a run, the less likely you’ll want to continue doing it.
Even if you do nothing but walk the entire workout, you’ll still be shedding calories, building fitness base and forming the exercise habit.
As you get fitter, increase the time spent running while taking less and less for recovery until you’re able to run for 30 to 45 minutes without stopping.
It’s just a matter of time. The rest is just detail.
3. Stop the Chafing
Another common source of pain for many runners is chaffing, especially within the thighs and nipples.
Friction is to blame. Chaffing occurs wherever your skin rubs against skin or clothing over and over again while you’re working a sweat.
Luckily, preventing this condition is no rocket science. Use products like Body Glide. This helps create a protective barrier along the skin to lessen the friction that causes chafing.
Apply the stuff to all chafing prone areas, such as the insides of your thighs, nipples, armpits, and wherever else the pain of chafing is ruining your workouts. Your long runs will feel gazillion times better.
You can also run in leggings or compression gear. No contact, no problem.
4. Get The Right Socks
Blisters are the bane of many runners. These can stop you in your tracks regardless of how motivated you are to keep training.
Just like chafing, blisters are the result of friction but this time between your shoes and or socks rubbing against your feet and toes.
Many factors could contribute to the onset of blisters, including improper shoes, foot abnormalities, downhill running, etc. In most cases, moisture and heat make the blisters worse.
To prevent blisters, go for synthetic, non-cotton socks, such as wicking poly-blend socks. You can also reduce the blister-causing friction by applying Body Glide between your toes.
5. Get The Right Shoes
Are you running in the wrong shoes? Then no wonder pounding the pavement is so painful.
The right running shoes set you up for more comfortable and less injury-prone runs.
Head to the nearest running specialty store where trained staff can assess your running style to help you pick a pair that will help you stay comfortable.
6. Keep Track of your Shoe Mileage
Not only is it essential to get proper shoes, but also vital to know when to replace them.
Sooner or later your sneakers lifespan will come to an end—even for the most expensive shoes made with the finest materials.
The exact mileage range depends on many factors such as your weight, training frequency, training terrains, etc., but as a general rule, replace your running shoes after 400 to 500 miles of wear.
Keep track of your shoes using your training journal—the old fashioned way—or an app like like MapMyRun that lets you monitor the mileage on a specific pair after each run.
7. Listen & Adjust
Last but not least, making running less painful may boil down to listening to your body and taking enough rest.
As a runner, putting your feet up might not be what you want to hear, but, in most cases, that’s the best thing you can do to make running feel easier.
Recovery days are important, especially during hectic periods, or when you’re not getting enough sleep.
Don’t let your ego stand in your way. As I pointed out to earlier, running places a considerable amount of stress on your body’s major joints, especially if you’re out pounding hard surfaces.
Focus on training quality rather than the quantity.
If you want to get the full benefit of your running routine, you need to get plenty of rest. Sleep is the primary mechanism by which our body recover. Skipping it will only compromise your efforts.
When you start logging in serious miles, you’ll find that your body craves extra sleep because it’s busy repairing tissue damage, building muscle, and adapting to the new workload.
Make sure to space your workouts throughout the week.
Scheduling recovery into your training program will help those hard runs seem a little less difficult and painful. Your body needs time to recoup and recover.
There are plenty of things you can do to make running feel less painful and a lot easier on you.
You only need to be willing to take them and make them part and parcel of your life. The rest is up to you.