Run Strong, Run Smart: 25 Essential Core Exercises for Every Runner

Are you ready to take your running to the next level? Then you’re in luck because today, I’ve got over 25 killer core exercises that will help you do just that.

But before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s clear up a common misconception – running more isn’t the only way to improve your running game.

While it’s true that practice makes perfect, cross-training is an essential part of any well-rounded training program. It can improve your overall athleticism, prevent injury, and even enhance your running performance.

One of the most effective forms of cross-training for runners is strength training, specifically core training. The muscles in your core are some of the most critical muscles in your body, yet they’re often neglected in running training programs.

That’s why I’ve put together a list of the best core exercises for runners to help you strengthen those muscles and take your running game to the next level.

But before we jump into the exercises, let’s talk about why core strength is so important for runners. Not only does it improve your posture, balance, and stability, but it also helps you maintain good form and prevent injuries. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that core strength training improved running economy, which means you can run faster and longer with less effort.

So, are you ready to strengthen your core and improve your running game? Let’s get started with these killer exercises.

What Exactly Is The Core?

Let’s get to the core of the matter, shall we? Your core is much more than just a six-pack. In fact, it’s a complex network of muscles that extend beyond what meets the eye. Your core is a powerhouse of muscles connecting your pelvis, spine, and trunk to the rest of your body. Think of it as the foundation of a house – it supports and stabilizes everything on top of it.

When we talk about the core, we’re not just talking about the visible muscles that everyone obsesses over. Sure, your rectus abdominis, or “abs,” play a role, but they’re just a small piece of the puzzle. Your core also includes the transverse abdominis, which are the innermost muscles that wrap around your spine and sides, the erector spinae in your lower back, obliques on the sides of your abdomen, as well as other muscles like the glutes, scapula, flexors, and pelvic floor.

You might be wondering why does any of this matters? Well, having a strong core is essential for runners. A study published in the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that runners who had weak hip and core muscles were more prone to injuries like shin splints and plantar fasciitis. On the other hand, a strong core can help improve your running efficiency, reduce your risk of injury, and even boost your speed and endurance.

So, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned runner, incorporating core exercises into your training program can benefit you in more ways than one. Now, let’s dive into some of the best core exercises for runners that will help you build a strong foundation for your running game.

The Benefits of Core Exercises for Runners

Core training is like laying a solid foundation for a house. Just like how a strong foundation supports the entire structure, a strong core supports your entire body during running. So, what are the benefits of core training for runners? Buckle up because we’ve got a lot to cover.

Deep Abs Help You Run Faster

Let’s start with the obvious: faster running. When you have powerful rectus and transverse muscles – your lower and deep abs – you’ll be able to generate more speed and power as you push off the ground. It’s like having a turbocharger for your running engine.

Reduce injury risk

Research has reported that a strong body is more resilient to injury. And as far as I can tell, the muscles of the core are some of the most important muscles in your body that not only ensure performance but also keep your body structure together.

Maintain Stability

Neglecting proper core work can lead to inefficient movement, creating an imbalance in your gait that can cause trouble down the road. This can lead to issues like understriding or overstriding, which can not only affect your performance but also increase your risk of injury.

Cor Muscles Protect Your Lower Back

Speaking of injury, research shows that a strong core can reduce lower back pain and lower the risk of injury to this vulnerable area. Plus, a strong body, in general, is more resilient to injury, and the muscles of the core are some of the most important muscles in your body that not only ensure performance but also keep your body structure together.

Hello Six-Pack Abs.

Strengthening your core muscles will not only help you power through the late stages of a tough run or race, keeping form and drive throughout the run/race, but it can also give you the six-pack abs you’ve always dreamed of.

Note: The information listed is by no means an exhaustive list of the benefits that core training offers, but it should give you a clear idea of what you stand to gain by adding a few simple core exercises each week.

The 25 Best Core Exercises For Runners

There are plenty of exciting exercises that can help you achieve a stronger and more toned core. Recent studies have shown that compound exercises, which engage multiple muscle groups at once, are more effective at activating your core muscles than isolated exercises like crunches or sit-ups. So why not work smarter, not harder?

Now, let’s get down to business. This beginner-friendly routine includes a mix of abs-focused moves like the classic plank and compound exercises that hit your entire core. And the best part? You can do it anywhere, whether at the office, home, or gym.

Planks

I love planks.

This tough isometric exercise hits every angle of the core.

It also works on spinal stability, vital for efficient and pain-free running.

Proper Form

Lie on your stomach and prop yourself onto your toes and elbows with your feet slightly apart.

Your toes should be about hip distance apart, with your elbows resting on the ground in a straight line under your shoulders.

Now lift and straighten your body to form a straight line from your head to your heel. Keep your core muscles engaged throughout the exercise.

Gaze at the floor while keeping your head relaxed and stress-free.

Hold the plank position for 45 seconds.

For more of a challenge:

Hold the position for a full minute or more as you get stronger.

Additional Reading  – Does running give you abs?

Side Planks

This plank variation strengthens the obliques while building endurance throughout the core.

Just make sure you engage your obliques the entire time.

No cheating allowed!

Proper Form

Lie on your side, supporting your upper body on your lower forearm while holding your top arm at your side or up in the air.

Your feet should stack on top of each other.

While lifting your body, keep a straight diagonal line from your head to your feet.

Hold the position for 30 seconds to one full minute, then switch sides.

Balance Plank

An advanced plank variation that builds strength and endurance throughout the body.

Proper Form

Assume a plank position.

While keeping a straight line from your head to toe, hold the position, making sure your lower back, glutes, and abs are all engaged.

While holding the position, extend your left arm in front of you, return to position and then extend your right arm.

Then return to position and lift your right Leg off of the ground behind you, return to position and repeat with the left Leg.

Hold each new position for 3 to 5 seconds, and repeat the cycle for 45 seconds.

For even more of a challenge: Hold each position longer, or do crunches in a plank position by bringing your left elbow down to meet your right knee while lifting the knee, then switch sides.

Russian Twists

Russian twists are some of the best exercises for firing up side muscles.

Proper Form

Have a 5- to 15-pound medicine ball or weight next to you.

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your butt

Keeping your back straight, lean back slightly without rounding your spine to a 45-degree angle, and raise your feet off the floor.

Pick up the weight and hold it at chest level, then twist to the right, reaching with the ball as far behind you as possible.

Pause, then rotate to the other side.

Keep alternating sides.

For more of a challenge: Use a heavier medicine ball or dumbbell, or do more reps.

Superman

The Superman exercise targets your lower back muscles, vital for maintaining stability in the hip region.

Proper Form

Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs extended and raise your head off the floor slightly to look like Superman in flight.

While holding this pose, raise your left arm with your right leg roughly 3 to 5 inches off the floor, holding for a 5-second count.

Slowly lower your arm and Leg, and switch sides. Repeat for 45 seconds.

For more of a challenge: Hold the Superman pose longer and do more reps.

Single-Leg Glute Bridge

This excellent core exercise mainly targets the glutes, but other core muscles work hard as well.

Proper Form

Lie on your back with your legs bent at almost 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor.

While engaging your core, lift your hips off the ground, so there’s a straight line from your knees to your shoulder.

Extend your right Leg with your toes pointing toward the ceiling.

Hold for a moment, then lower your Leg to the floor and repeat on the other side.

Continue for 45 seconds.

Make sure to use good form throughout the exercise.

No sagging or dipping of the butt is allowed.

For more of a challenge: Flex your legs and reach them as high as you can while solely relying on your glutes to support you the entire time.

Windshield Wipers

Also known as metronomes, this is a powerful core exercise for your obliques.

It’s also key for building rotational core strength, another vital component of good performance.

Proper Form

Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and raised over your hips and your ankles parallel to the floor.

While engaging your core muscles and keeping your hips in contact with the floor, rotate your legs to the right, hold for a moment, then bring them back up and repeat the movement on the other side.

Aim for at least eight reps on each side.

Avoid swinging too fast and using the momentum of the movement.

For more of a challenge: Flex your toes and keep your Leg straight while doing the exercise, or hold the pose longer on each side.

Scorpion Planks:

This tough move will not only give your core a tough workout but also build strength and mobility in your upper body.

Scorpion planks also help you stretch out your hip flexors and obliques, which are often neglected.

Proper Form

Assume a push-up position with your hands on the floor and the balls of your feet resting on a low chair or a bench.

Keep your back and legs aligned in a straight form.

Lift your left Leg off the bench and cross your knee under your body toward your right shoulder as far as you can, then return it to the bench and do the same with your right knee and left shoulder.

Repeat for 45 seconds

For more of a challenge, add a push-up to the top of every scorpion move you make.

The Boat

A fantastic exercise to strengthen your erector spinae, rectus abdominis, and the hip flexors.

Proper form

Begin by sitting up straight on the floor with your knees bet, feet flat on the floor, and back straight.

Next, hold your arms out in front of you as you slowly lift your feet off the floor while keeping them together until they form a 45-degree angle to your torso.

Active your entire core, balance on your tailbone, and keep your back flat the whole time.

Extend your legs so they’re straight and your body forms a V shape.

Hold the pose for a count of 10, slowly lower your legs, then repeat.

Reach your arms straight in front of you while keeping them parallel to the ground.

For more support, feel free to place your hands on the ground or underneath your hips.

Dead Bug

The dead bug (which looks exactly like it sounds) is an awesome exercise for connecting your mind to your core.

It’s an all-encompassing core move that works your deep inner core, mainly the diaphragm, transverse abdominis, multifidus, and pelvic floor; what’s not to like.

Proper form

Begin by laying on your back with your arms extended toward the ceiling, directly over your shoulders, and legs in a tabletop position (both knees bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips).

Lower your left arm and right Leg at the same time until they’re hovering just above the ground, then slowly return to starting position.

Keep both knees hovering a few inches from the floor.

Engage your core and squeeze your body throughout the exercise, lower back pressed into the floor.

Slowly extend your left leg straight while dropping your right arm overhead at the same time.

Kneeling Extension

Another great move that keeps your core muscles strong, as well as helps prevent lower back pain.

Proper Form

Begin by kneeling on all fours, with your hands beneath your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.

Activate your core muscles and slowly raise your left arm and extend it straight forward.

Slowly lift your right Leg and extend it straight back, and point your toes down.

Hold the pose for a count of ten and slowly lower to starting position, and switch sides.

Repeat five times on each side.

Bicycle Crunches

Regular crunches are too boring.

Spice them up with bicycle crunches.

It’s beginner-friendly, and can be done anywhere, but it’s also challenging.

This is one of the best core exercises you can do—and one of my favorites—targeting not only the usual abs but also the obliques and deep abs.

Proper Form

Lie flat on the ground, with your lower back pressed flat into the ground, knees bent, and head and shoulders raised slightly above it.

Next, place your hands lightly behind your head, then bring your knees toward your chest and raise your shoulder blade off the floor, but be sure not to pull on the back of your neck.

Bring one knee up towards your armpit while straightening the other Leg, keeping both elevated higher than your hips.

Rotate your torso as much as possible so you can touch your elbow to the opposite knee as it comes up.

As you perform the movement, twist through your core as the opposite arm comes towards the elevated knee.

Focus on moving through your core as you turn your torso.

Don’t feel like you have to touch the elbow to knee, but it’s a worthy goal to have.

Additional resource – Guide to running lingo

Scissors kick

Begin by laying on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor, and hands underneath the lower back for support.

Next, lift your left leg one inch off the ground while extending the right Leg to the ceiling, then kick the legs, toes pointed. Keep alternating back and forth so that it looks like a scissor motion.

Engage your abs throughout the exercise.

Aim for eight reps on each side to complete one set.

Glute kickback

Start by kneeling on the floor, on all fours, hips lined over the knee, hands directly under the shoulders, and back parallel to the floor.

Next, lift your right leg until your hamstrings are in line with your back, pause, and then slowly lower your Leg back to starting position, then switch sides to complete one rep.

Continue alternating between legs.

The Bridge

Lay flat on the ground with hands on the side and knees bent. Next, raise your hips off the ground by pushing with the heels.

Next, squeeze your glutes for a moment as hard as possible to keep the hips up.

Then take three to five seconds to slowly lower back to the ground to complete one rep.

Mountain climbers

Assume a push-up position, so your hands are directly under your chest at shoulder-width apart with straight arms.

Next, while holding the upper body steady, raise your right foot off the ground, bring the knee as close to the chest as possible, then repeat with the left Leg.

Continue alternating right knee, then left knee to the chest, as fast as possible while keeping good form.

Aim for 16 to 20 reps to complete one set.

Swiss-ball Roll-out

Begin by kneeling on a mat or the floor, elbows bent under the shoulders and resting tightly on a stability ball and core engaged.

To perform the Swiss ball roll-outs, roll the ball forward on the elbows as far as possible, then slowly roll back to starting position while keeping the back straight the entire time.

That’s one repetition.

Do three sets of 15 reps each.

Cross-climber with Feet on a Swiss Ball

Assume a standard push-up position, arms straight, shins resting firmly on a Swiss ball.

Be sure that your body is forming a straight line from the head to the ankles.

Next, while bracing the core and keeping the back straight, raise the right Leg off the ball and bring the right toward the left elbow, hold it for a moment, then move the right Leg to start position, and repeat on the other side, left knee to right elbow this time.

That’s one rep.

Do 12 reps to complete one set.

Aim for three sets.

Medicine Ball V-up

Hold a med ball, and lie on your back with legs straight and arms directly above the head.

That’s the starting position.

Next, while keeping the elbows straight the entire time, lift your torso and legs as you bring the ball toward your feet, pause for a count of three, then slowly lower back to starting position.

That’s one rep.

Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps each.

Spider-man Plank Crunch

Begin in a classic plank position with your forearms on the mat and body straight from head to ankles.

Next, raise your right Leg, and bring your right knee in towards the right elbow, hold it for a moment, then move your Leg back to plank position and switch sides.

Make sure to engage your core and keep your body steady and straight throughout the movement.

Keep alternating sides for a total of 16 reps to complete one set.

Aim for three sets.

Double Mountain Climber

Get into a push-up position with hands a bit wider than the shoulders.

Next, jump both of your feet up towards the hands, with the knees coming just outside of the elbows, pause for a second, then push back to starting position in one continuous and explosive motion.

Do at least 25 reps on each side to complete one set.

Aim for three sets.

Jump Squats

Assume an athletic position and stand as tall as you can with the feet spread shoulder-width apart.

Next, while keeping your back straight and head up, squat down until the knees are bent at roughly 90 degrees; then, as soon as you reach the bottom part of the squat, jump up explosive in the air by mainly pressing with the balls of your feet, using the thighs like springs.

Move into the next rep as soon as you land on the floor.

Do 12 to 16 reps to complete one set.

Aim for three sets.

Plank with Alternating arm and Leg Raise

Assume a standard push-up position with both arms straight, fingers pointed forward, and core activated.

Next, raise your right arm and left Leg, then extend and straighten them both until they are parallel to the floor, hold it for a count of three, then repeat to starting positing and switches sides.

Do eight reps on each side to complete one set.

Shoot for three sets.

Core Exercises For Runners – The Conclusion

As runners, we are constantly pushing ourselves to go the extra mile, striving for those moments of euphoria as we conquer new distances and personal records. But beneath the surface of our powerful strides lies a crucial foundation that determines our success: a strong core. Throughout this article, we have explored the vital role that core exercises play in enhancing our running performance and preventing injuries.

From the fiery intensity of planks to the graceful fluidity of mountain climbers, these exercises have proven to be the unsung heroes of the running world. They strengthen the muscles deep within our torsos, creating a solid support system that propels us forward with each step. The science is clear—runners who incorporate regular core workouts into their training routines experience improved stability, increased endurance, and reduced risk of common injuries.

But let’s not forget the benefits that extend beyond the physical realm. Engaging in core exercises unlocks mental fortitude as our bodies become a harmonious symphony of strength and resilience. It is through these workouts that we tap into our hidden potential, discovering the power within ourselves to overcome challenges on the road and in life.

Imagine your core as the anchor to your running vessel—a steadfast force that keeps you grounded amidst the ever-changing terrain. As you engage in exercises like Russian twists, bicycle crunches, and leg raises, envision your core as a sturdy oak tree, its roots growing deep into the earth, providing stability and unwavering support.

Research has shown that runners who diligently incorporate core exercises into their training routines experience a myriad of benefits. Not only are they less likely to be sidelined by injuries, but they also possess the agility and strength needed to conquer demanding terrains and reach new heights. By honing our cores, we unlock the potential to become running legends, blazing trails with every stride.

So, dear runners, let us embrace the power of the core. Let us make these exercises a cornerstone of our training programs and witness the transformative effects they have on our running journeys. The path ahead may be challenging, but with a strong core as our ally, we have the foundation to conquer any race, any goal, and any dream.

Breaking Through the Plateau: Uncover the 7 Reasons Why Your Running Isn’t Improving

runner improving muscles

Are you frustrated with your running performance plateauing?

It can be disheartening to put in so much effort and not see any improvements.

But before you give up on your running dreams, it’s important to understand that there are several reasons why your progress may be stalling. Some reasons are easily fixable, while others may require more attention and medical intervention.

In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into the potential causes behind your running slump and provide you with actionable steps to help you break through it.

So, if you’re ready to lace up your shoes and get to the bottom of your running struggles, then keep reading.

Note—Get checked by a medical professional to rule out any serious conditions such as heart, blood, thyroid, or other health issues as the culprit behind the decline in your running performance. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet.

Running Not Improving Reason – 1. Overtraining

The most common culprit behind your stalled performance could be something as simple as overtraining.

Think of it this way: your body is like a car engine, and overtraining is like revving the engine too high for too long. Just like a car engine, your body needs rest and recovery to perform at its best.

So, what can you do to fix this? Alternate between hard and easy training days and take at least one day off a week. It’s like giving your body a chance to catch its breath and recharge its batteries. And if you experience any of the symptoms of overtraining, such as chronic pain, poor sleep, or frequent colds, it’s time to pump the brakes and give yourself some rest.

You should also keep tabs on overtraining symptoms.

You’re likely in an overtrained state if you’re experiencing more than a couple of the following:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Depressed mood and irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chronic aches and pains
  • Fatigue
  • Poor sleep
  • Unwanted weight loss
  • Altered sleep patterns
  • Colds and the flu.

Running Not Improving Reason – 2. Not Eating Enough

Food plays a critical role in running performance.

Skimping on calories means mediocre performance and slower times.

That’s why when you’re logging serious miles, you’d need to make sure that your overall calorie intake fits your exercise level and body needs.

Just keep in mind that proper fueling before, during, and after running requires experimentation.

There’s no such thing as a universal rule that applies to everyone.

The Fix

It’s simple.

Eat more.

As a runner, your daily fuel needs exceed those of the average sedentary person.

It’s not uncommon for serious runners to have calorie needs exceeding 2,400-3000 calories per day.

What’s more?

Consume the right proportions of carbohydrates, protein, and fats (50%/30%/20% is a good guideline to follow).

As a rule, get your carbs from good sources such as veggies, fruits, and whole grains instead of processed foods.

You should also shoot for more protein after a hard run to help with recovery.

And don’t shy away from healthy sources of fat—they’re good for you.

Your pre-run choices also matter.

If you’re running hard or for more than 45 or so minutes, it helps to have something in the tank first before braving the outdoors.

I’d recommend any of these snacks.

What else?

Keeping your body well-hydrated is also key.

Proper hydration helps carry nutrients to your cells and flush out your organs.

Shoot for 60 to 90 ounces of water per day, depending on your training intensity, sweat rate, training duration, etc.

Can Running Help Cure Your Hangover?

Running Not Improving Reason – 3. Respect The Weather

As a runner, it’s important to respect the weather and its impact on your performance. The elements can either be your ally or your worst enemy. Imagine running in 92-degree heat with high humidity and feeling like an invisible vise is squeezing your chest a couple of miles in. Not exactly an enjoyable experience, right? On the flip side, running in the cold can present a whole other set of challenges, including snow, ice, wind, and freezing temperatures that can slow you down and wear on you over time.

So, what’s the fix for dealing with weather-related performance issues? Well, for starters, it’s time to work on the skill of running by feel. Rather than obsessing over pace targets, focus on your breathing and how you feel during your run. Adjust your pace accordingly and toss your GPS watch to the side for a change. This approach will help you develop a stronger sense of pacing and allow you to adjust to the conditions more effectively.

It’s also crucial to dress appropriately for the weather. For  winter running, layering is key. Wear moisture-wicking clothing and avoid cotton. Don’t forget to protect your extremities with gloves, a hat, and warm socks. And for those hot summer runs, be sure to stay hydrated and wear breathable, lightweight clothing that allows for proper ventilation.

Research shows that high heat and humidity can lead to a decrease in running performance, especially for longer distances. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that running performance decreased by an average of 4.4% in hot and humid conditions. So, when it comes to the weather, remember to respect it and adjust your training accordingly.

Running Not Improving Reason – 4. You’re Doing The Same Runs

Running is like cooking a gourmet meal – you can’t use the same ingredients and recipe every day and expect to wow your taste buds. Similarly, if you want to wow your running performance, you need to switch up your training.

It’s easy to get comfortable running at the same pace, but that won’t help you improve. If you want to see results, you need to vary your speed and distances. Studies show that different types of training trigger different types of physiological adaptation, which means incorporating a variety of runs will make you a better runner.

Start by building an endurance base with low to moderate-effort runs. These runs will strengthen your muscles and overall health. However, if you want to push your pace and reach your running potential, you need to challenge yourself with faster-paced workouts.

To avoid plateauing, your running schedule should include a variety of running workouts, from easy recovery runs to challenging race-pace intervals. Each run has its purpose, so don’t push too hard on easy days, but give it your all during interval sessions.

Add some spice to your training with a fartlek session or some strides at the end of your easy runs a few times per week. These faster-paced workouts will help you build speed, endurance, and mental toughness, making you a better, more well-rounded runner.

Running Not Improving Reason – 5.You’re Lazy

It’s time to face the hard truth – you might be lazy.

Yes, you heard that right. Sometimes, the reason we’re not seeing results is as simple as not putting in the effort. Inconsistency in training is a common issue that can prevent us from reaching our goals and reaping the benefits of hard work.

But don’t worry, there’s a simple fix to this problem. The key to staying consistent is having a plan. Start by deciding how many days per week you want to train, even if you don’t have a specific training goal in mind yet. Then come up with a plan that works for you and your lifestyle, and stick to it.

But how do you stay motivated to stick to your plan? Find your source of motivation, whether it’s losing weight, beating a personal record, or running for a cause you care about. Keep your focus on that goal and use it to push yourself to run regularly.

Remember, consistency is key to improving your running performance. So, stop being lazy and start putting in the effort to reach your goals. The results will be worth it.

Running Not Improving Reason – 6. You’re Getting Older

Age may be just a number, but it can take a toll on your running performance. As we get older, our athletic abilities gradually decrease, and it becomes more challenging to hit our targets. It’s like a hill that gets steeper and steeper as we climb, and the peak seems further and further away.

Studies suggest that VO2 max, a critical metric that measures the amount of oxygen your body can absorb and deliver to your muscles, declines at a rate of 1-2% per year after the age of 40. That means that you could lose up to 20% of your maximum aerobic power between 40 and 50! A significant drop, right?

But don’t worry; it’s not all doom and gloom. You can slow down the decline and aim to be the best at any age. Consistency is key. Keep your training regular, but listen to your body. It’s essential to strike a balance between training hard and giving your body time to recover. It will help keep your athletic performance in check while improving your overall longevity as a runner.

Strength training can help mitigate the effects of aging, as you naturally lose muscle mass as you age. Consistent resistance training can help you maintain muscle mass, improve bone density, and reduce the risk of injury.

Balance is crucial for runners and non-runners alike. It’s even more critical as we age since we’re more likely to lose our balance, increasing the risk of falls. Incorporating balance exercises into your routine can help you maintain your stability and prevent injuries.

Remember, age may slow us down, but it shouldn’t stop us from pursuing our goals. With consistency, proper training, and a healthy lifestyle, we can continue to improve our running performance and be the best versions of ourselves at any age.

Give this 30-day running challenge a try.

Running Not Improving Reason – 7. You’re Not Sleeping Enough

Your performance improves when your body recovers from and adapts to the training stimulus—a process that requires sleep and lots of it.

Sleep can’t be overlooked, yet a lot of runners disregard it.

Your performance doesn’t improve when you’re cranking out hard reps during a track workout or going for a long run.

In fact, sleep time is your body’s prime time for repair.

Research has revealed that sleep-deprived athlete reports reaching a point of exhaustion about 10 percent faster than well-rested athletes.

What’s more?

Research has also shown that inadequate sleep can also result in increased fatigue, hormone irregularity, low energy, poor focus, mood swings, etc.

The Fix

Aim to sleep seven to nine hours during the night’s time.

Do the following to improve your sleep.

  • Go to bed and wake up at consistent times.
  • Cultivate a cool-down and window routine before you go to sleep.
  • Avoid heavy dinners or stimulants in the two to three hours before going to bed.
  • Reduce blue light exposure in the evening.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine late in the evening

Additional Resource – Running in polluted areas

Running Not Improving  – The Conclusion

There you have it.

The above covers some of the most reasons why you’re losing your running performance, as well as what to do about it.

The rest is just a matter of implementation.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep training strong.

Get Fit Indoors: 6 Fun and Effective Treadmill Workouts for Beginner Runners

Are you ready to dive into the world of treadmill running? Well, you’re in luck because this is the ultimate guide you’ve been searching for! Forget about risking injury or burnout, because the treadmill is your ticket to a fantastic running experience. Wondering how? Keep reading, my friend.

In today’s post, I’ll be sharing with you everything you need to know to get started with indoor running. By the time you finish reading this beginner’s guide, you’ll have the knowledge to:

  • Master the art of using the treadmill
  • Discover the incredible benefits of treadmill running
  • Learn how to improve your treadmill running form
  • Take your very first steps on this fantastic machine
  • Uncover the perfect treadmill workout designed specifically for beginners

And guess what? There’s so much more waiting for you! Excited? Then let’s hit that start button and begin this exhilarating journey together!

The Benefits of Treadmill Running

Here’s what you stand to gain from hitting the belt more often.

Less Impact

Running on hard surfaces, like asphalt and concrete, increases the risks of overuse injury.

However, the treadmill belt offers extra cushioning that helps absorb much of this stress.

Forget About the Outdoor Conditions

Outdoor running exposes you to the elements, be it the weather, unsafe streets, uneven surfaces, etc.

All of these can stand in the way of your running success.

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about any of this when running on the treadmill.

Simulate the Race

Preparing for a race?

A treadmill can help you nail your perfect pace.

For example, if you are planning for a hilly 10K race, you can simulate that racing experience by incline training or even intervals on the treadmill.

Additional Source – Check this treadmill pace chart

Safer Than Running Outside

You can always run into troubles when doing outdoor running workouts: cracks, ruts, cyclists, cars, people, thieves, stray dogs, the wrong side of town, you name it.

Again, a treadmill can help you sidestep all of these risks.

Privacy

Dealing with insecurities?

Worry no more.

Hopping on the treadmill gives you more privacy as you don’t have to fret about anyone judging your performance.

You can run at your own pace and call it to quit anytime you want.

Measurable Data

On a treadmill, you have a say on your training conditions, helping you run with more accuracy, whether it’s speed, incline, calories burned, heart rate, step count, and so on.

Beginner Treadmill Workout FAQ: Answering All Your Burning Questions

Are you eager to start treadmill running but feeling unsure about how to begin? No worries, we’ve got you covered! Before we dive into the beginner treadmill workout, let’s address some common questions beginner runners often have about the treadmill.

How Fast Should I train on the Treadmill As A Beginner?

The answer depends on your current fitness level. If you’re just starting out and have a sedentary lifestyle or are over 50 and overweight, don’t worry about speed. It’s important to start slow and work your way up gradually. However, if you’re already active and in good shape, you can crank up the pace.

Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is essential to improving your cardiovascular fitness and endurance. If you can achieve a pace of 5 mph or higher as a beginner, that would be fantastic. This will give you room for growth and help you to get your heart rate up. Plus, it’s a great way to challenge your body and boost your confidence.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re not able to hit 5 mph right away. Remember that five miles per hour is the equivalent of a 12-minute mile, which is perfectly fine for someone who’s just starting out. To help you determine your per-mile pace, we’ve included a cheat sheet with various speeds and their corresponding minutes per mile.

Here’s a cheat sheet so you can have more ideas about your per-mile pace.

  • 5.0 mph = 12:00 minutes per mile
  • 5.5 mph = 10:55 minutes per mile
  • 6.0 mph = 10:00 minutes per mile
  • 6.5 mph = 9:14 minutes per mile
  • 7.0 mph = 8:34 minutes per mile
  • 7.5 mph = 8:00 minutes per mile
  • 8.0 mph = 7:30 minutes per mile

How long Should a Beginner Train on a Treadmill?

Again, the answer depends on you.

Every beginner is different and has a different starting point.

Just do as much as you can in the beginning while staying within your fitness level and paying attention to your body’s needs and signals the entire time.

For a complete beginner, you can start off treadmill training at a slow pace for no more than 15 to 20 minutes three times a week.

Then slowly increase the duration to 30 to 40 minutes over the course of a few week.

Here’s how often should you run per week.

How To Start Running on A Treadmill
For Beginners?

To make the most out of your treadmill workouts, try to incorporate these two valuable training tips.

Know Your Treadmill

If you’re feeling nervous about using a treadmill for the first time, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Taking your first few steps on the treadmill can be quite daunting. But it’s not rocket science.

The first thing you need to do is locate the “Start Workout” or “Quick Workout” button. Once you do, hold onto the handrails, step onto the belt, and press the button. In 3…2…1, the belt will start to move. It’s that simple!

As you get started, keep in mind that you may feel a bit wobbly or dizzy. Don’t panic, this is completely normal! You’re practicing a new motor skill, and it will take a few sessions to feel at ease. Once you’re comfortable with the basic functions of the treadmill, start experimenting with the speed and incline/decline options.

Of course, not all treadmills are created equal. Some have minimal options, while others have a more complicated user interface.

But the basics are still the same: Start/Speed/Stop.

Warm-Up For Your Treadmill Workout

Just like outdoor running, the key to effective treadmill training is a proper warm-up.

Skipping it will only increase the risks of premature fatigue and injury.

A good warm-up helps you get your blood pumping and heart rate ticking and be for the hard effort ahead.

Invest in at least a 5 to 10 minutes warm-up period, then aim to slowly increase your speed as you go, but never speed up to the point that your form begins to suffer.

Pay attention to your body before you speed up.

Treadmill Running Form

Treadmill running form is essential.

Bad form hinders performance and leads to injury.

Keep your treadmill running technique in check by doing the following:

  • Run tall and look straight ahead as if gazing at the horizon.
  • Aim to run with your natural gait, and avoid taking short and quick strides as well as thumping the belt too hard. Not good for your sole and ankle.
  • Keep your posture straight, the head should be up, back straight, and shoulders level.
  • Never slouch or curve your back, especially when going against an incline. Open your chest, make space for more air.
  • Let go of the handrails and keep pumping your arms the same way you do when running outside.

 6 Treadmill Workouts For Beginners

If you’re not sure how to proceed with your next treadmill workout, here are six treadmill runs to get you started.

Routine I – The 30-minute Beginner Treadmill Workout

To get started, let’s dive into some beginner treadmill workouts. If you’re brand new to running, start with the 30-minute beginner routine. This workout incorporates intervals of slow jogging and walking breaks for recovery.

First step –Start walking at a 1.5 to 2 mph pace and stick to it for at least 10 minutes.

Be sure to breathe deeply and visualize success all the way through.

Mental preparation is key.

Second Step Pick up the pace and start jogging at 5 to 5.5 mph for two minutes.

This is your first interval, so you shouldn’t push yourself here.

Practice good running form the entire time.

Run as tall as you can, engage your core, let go of the handrails, and swing your arms by the sides.

Keep your form aerodynamic,

Third Step – This is your first two minutes break, so make the most out of it.

Breathe deeply, towel off, and hydrate.

Fourth Step – Repeat the jogging/walking cycle for five times.

If it feels too much, pace yourself and slow it down, especially when your form starts to suffer.

Fifth Step –Slowly decrease your jogging pace and start walking at two mph for five minutes and cool down properly.

Breathe deeply and release all tension.

Make sure to also check in with your body and see how you feel.

Try to perform this workout at least three times per week during the first few weeks.

Then, as you get fitter and stronger, increase the time you spend jogging and less for recovery until you can run at a comfortable pace for 30 minutes without gasping for air.

Want more structure? Try my Couch to 5K treadmill Plan.

Routine II – The 30-minute Interval treadmill workout

Already a runner?

Then try this more challenging routine.

First Step – Warm up for 5 minutes by jogging slowly and taking deep breaths.

Skipping on the warm-up leads to premature fatigue or, even worse, injury.

Second Step – Run at your 5K pace (it should feel hard) for one to two minutes, depending on your fitness level.

Third Step – Recover by jogging slowly for one full minute.

Fourth Step – Repeat “Second Step” and “Third Step” five to eight times, depending on your fitness experience and training goals.

Fifth Step – End your workout with a 5-minute slow jog to cool down.

Stretch gently afterward.

A proper cool-down will help you avoid dizziness and might reduce muscle soreness for the following day.

Additional Resource- Your guide to curved treadmills

Routine III – The Incline Treadmill Workout

Want to take intervals to the next level?  Do them on an incline.

This helps simulate outdoor hill running, which boosts endurance and builds killer lower-body strength.

First Step – Warm up for 10 minutes.

Second Step – Increase the incline to 3 or 4 percent and run for 90 seconds at 80 percent of max-effort—a pace that feels moderately challenging.

Third Step (Recovery) – Jog for 60 seconds with no incline.

This is your recovery break.

Fourth Step – Raise the incline to five or seven percent and run for another 90 seconds at 15 seconds slower than your 10K paces.

Recover for one minute.

Fifth Step – Repeat the previous step three to four times, depending on your fitness level and goals.

Choose a steeper incline for more challenge.

Sixth Step – Cool-down

Additional Resource  – When to replace a treadmill belt

Routine IV – The Beginner Tempo Treadmill Run

A treadmill tempo workout teaches your body how to adapt efficiently to increased intensity.

This type of running helps you build up a fairly high volume of intense exercise that enhances both aerobic and lactate-threshold systems.

First Step – Warm up for 10 minutes.

Second Step – Run a mile at 20 to 30 seconds slower than your half-marathon pace—a pace that feels comfortably easy.

Third Step – Pick up the pace every mile by five to 20 seconds until you’re running the final mile 20 to 30 seconds faster than your half marathon pace.

Fourth step –  Cool down for five minutes.

Additional resource – How To run with a partner

Routine V – The Pyramid Treadmill Workout

Pyramid workouts are straightforward.

You’re simply kicking off your hard interval at one-minute segments, going for a longer running segment, and then working you’re back down one minute.

It should take you at least 50 minutes to complete the routine, but that’s not cast in stone.

Do what feels the best for you, and remember to always stay within your fitness level.

First Step – Five minutes: The Warm-up

Start with a proper warm-up, jogging for 10 minutes at a speed of 4 to 5 mph with no incline.

Second Step –Seven minutes: 1st Ladder

Increase speed to 6.0 mph and keep it going for the next three minutes. Practice good form.

Keep your torso straight, and your body relaxed from head to toe.

Next, increase the speed to 7 mph and incline to three percent for four minutes.

Second Step – Two minutes: Recovery

Slow down and recover for three minutes.

Hydrate, breathe deeply and release any built-up tension.

Third Step – Nine minutes: 2nd Ladder Interval

Increase the speed to 7 mph and incline to three percent for four minutes.

Next, increase the speed again to 8 mph and incline to five percent for five minutes.

Fourth Step – Two Minutes: Recovery

Slow down to 4 mph with a two percent incline.

Fifth Step – Nine minutes: 3rd Ladder

Increase speed to 7 to 7.5 mph and incline to five percent, and keep running strong for a full five minutes.

For the upcoming four-minute, keep the same speed, but lower the incline to three percent.

Sixth Step – Two minutes: Recovery

Slow down to 4 mph and recover.

Seventh Step – Six minutes: Ladder No 4

Speed it up to 8 mph and raise the incline to three percent.

Then, for the next two minutes, keep the same speed but raise the incline to five percent for the last interval of this pyramid workout.

Eighth Step – Five minutes: The cool-down

Jog slowly for ten minutes at a speed of 4 mph with no incline.

Additional resource – How to become a morning a runner

Routine VI – The Beginner Hybrid Treadmill Workout

Mixing treadmill training with bodyweight exercises can help you burn more fat, improve performance, and bust treadmill boredom.

Here is a CrossFit-Running treadmill workout.

It’s one of my favorites.

You can choose to add these bodyweight exercises to your treadmill workout any way you like.

After a proper warm-up of 5 minutes of jogging and some dynamic exercises, do the following.

  • Sprint for 30-second
  • Pushups: 8-12 reps
  • Sprint for 30-second
  • Squat Jumps: 8-12 reps
  • Sprint for 30-second
  • Treadmill recovery: 90 seconds of slow jogging.
  • Sprint for 30-second
  • Jumping jacks: 60 seconds
  • Lunge steps: 16 to 20 reps
  • Sprint for 30-second
  • Finish it off with a 5-minute slow jog as a cool down, followed by stretching.

Need more structure?

Try my beginner running plan.

For more, check my How to design your running program guide.

Treadmill workouts for beginners  – The Conclusion

Still, wondering how to start running on a treadmill? Then I believe today’s post has you covered.

The above simple training guidelines are all you need to start treadmill running.

The rest is really up to you.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

And please, if you have any treadmill workouts for beginners, please share.

In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.

Keep running strong.

David D.

Stop the World from Spinning: Effective Strategies for Dealing with Dizziness During Runs

Can Running Help Cure Your Hangover?

Are you tired of feeling like you’re on a rollercoaster during your runs? That feeling of lightheadedness, dizziness, or blurred vision can be alarming, scary, and even dangerous. But don’t let it stop you from hitting the pavement and reaching your goals.

As a seasoned runner, I know firsthand the frustration of experiencing dizziness during a workout. It can be discouraging, and it’s essential to understand why it’s happening and what you can do to prevent it.

That’s why I’ve put together this comprehensive guide to dizziness while running. By the end of this post, you’ll have a clear understanding of the causes and symptoms of lightheadedness during exercise, the link between blood pressure and feeling dizzy, and, most importantly, how to prevent and manage these symptoms.

Don’t let dizziness keep you from reaching your full potential. With the right knowledge and strategies, you can keep running strong and steady. So, let’s dive in and learn how to stay on solid ground while hitting the pavement.

Dizziness While Running Red Flags

Dizziness can be a real pain in the neck, but it’s not always a cause for alarm. However, there are certain red flags that should prompt you to seek medical attention immediately. If you start experiencing slurred speech, chronic and severe headaches, sudden deafness in one ear, or numbness, don’t wait for things to get worse. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.

And let’s talk about projectile vomit. I’m not talking about a little bit of queasiness or an upset stomach. Projectile vomit is exactly what it sounds like – vomiting with such force that it shoots out of your mouth like a cannon. Not only is this gross, but it’s also a clear sign that something is seriously wrong. If you experience this while running, stop immediately and seek medical attention.

According to a study published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention, chest pain and palpitations during exercise can be indicative of heart problems. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention if you experience these symptoms.

Remember, your body is your temple, and you should always take care of it. Don’t ignore any red flags that your body is giving you. It’s better to take a break from running and get checked out by a medical professional than to push through and potentially cause more harm.

Here are some of the warning signs to watch out for:

Firstly, if you’re experiencing slurred speech or sudden deafness in one ear, it’s time to seek medical help. These symptoms could be indicative of a stroke, which is a medical emergency.

Secondly, if you’re experiencing severe and chronic headaches, it’s also a cause for concern. Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of exercise-induced dizziness, but if they’re persistent and debilitating, they could be a sign of something more serious.

Numbness or weakness are also red flags to watch out for. These symptoms can be indicative of a stroke or nerve damage, which can be serious and require immediate medical attention.

Extreme exhaustion, chest pain, palpitations, and projectile vomiting are other symptoms that could indicate an underlying medical condition that requires medical attention.

How To Not Get Light-Headed When Running

If your head starts spinning or gets woozy during a run, various culprits could be to blame.

Here are the main ones, as well as how to how to deal with each.

Blood Pressure Drop

One common reason why you might feel lightheaded when running is due to a drop in blood pressure. When you stop running, your heart rate decreases, which can cause your blood pressure to drop. This can result in dizziness and weakness.

The solution? To prevent this, try doing a 5- to 10-minute cool-down after your run. This will give your body enough time to slowly transition back to a normal resting state, preventing the dizzying sensation.

Running Too Hard

Another culprit of lightheadedness is overexertion. It’s tempting to push yourself to the limit during a workout, but doing so can lead to dehydration and a decrease in blood volume, both of which can cause dizziness.

How to Prevent Overexertion

Running too much too fast can do more harm than good, so listen to your body and adjust your training accordingly.

If you’re feeling lightheaded during a high-intensity workout, slow down and take a minute to catch your breath and slow your heart rate.

It’s great to push yourself on the running track every now and then, but don’t turn it into a habit.

Otherwise, you might be setting yourself up for a painful setback.

Dehydration & Dizziness During A Run

Another reason why you might feel lightheaded is due to dehydration. When you run, your body sweats to regulate your core temperature. This can cause you to lose a lot of water and electrolytes, especially during long runs in the heat.

Early warning signs of dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme thirst
  • Running headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

How to Prevent Dehydration

To prevent this, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially before and after your runs. During long runs, aim to sip an ounce or two of water every 15 to 20 minutes.

Low Blood Sugar

Let’s dive into the importance of fueling your body during training. Food is not just something we eat for pleasure; it is energy that fuels our body for daily activities, exercise, and training. Skipping meals can leave you feeling weak and lightheaded, making it hard to keep up with the demands of your training. In fact, studies have shown that exercising on an empty stomach can lead to low blood sugar levels, which can cause symptoms like dizziness and trembling.

How To Prevent Low Blood Sugar

Instead of running on an empty stomach, opt for a light meal or snack that includes complex carbohydrates and protein, such as yogurt with fruit or apples with peanut butter. According to research, carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy during exercise, and protein helps repair and build muscle tissue.

Improper Breathing

Breathing, on the other hand, is an often-overlooked aspect of running. Proper breathing technique not only helps improve performance but also prevents dizziness and lightheadedness. Many runners have a tendency to hold their breath or take shallow breaths, which can impede oxygen flow to the brain, leading to lightheadedness.

How To Prevent Improper Breathing

You can no longer control your breath while running?

Slow it down, or stop to rest and recover.

To err on the side of caution, especially if dizziness is a big issue, stick to a conversational training pace.

This means being able to talk while running without panting for air.

Another trick to help prevent improper breathing is to synchronize your breathing with your steps while running. I recommend a 3:2 ratio—in for three steps, out for two steps. Inhale, inhale, inhale-exhale, exhale, in sync with your steps. This can help regulate your breathing and keep you feeling great during your run.

Getting Light-Headed When Running On The Treadmill

If you’re feeling dizzy while running on the treadmill, you’re not alone. This is a common complaint among runners, and it’s caused by a disconnect between your brain and your body. When running on the treadmill, your body gets used to the ground moving beneath your feet to meet your steps. However, once you step off the machine, the floor becomes motionless, which can cause motion sickness or dizziness.

But don’t worry; this type of vertigo is not dangerous and often goes away after a few treadmill runs.

How to Overcome Treadmill Vertigo

To prevent treadmill dizziness, try slowing down gradually. Reduce your pace over the course of three to five minutes until you’re walking comfortably and breathing normally. Then, and only then, get off the machine. Get into a recovery position or simply sit down and rehydrate.

Medical Issues

Feeling dizzy during exercise can be a concerning and uncomfortable experience, but it’s important to remember that there are many factors that can contribute to this sensation.

While some causes of dizziness can be easily remedied with simple lifestyle changes, others may require medical intervention. Here are some additional factors to consider if you’re experiencing dizziness during running:

Underlying Medical Issues:

As mentioned earlier, underlying medical issues such as ear problems or heart diseases can contribute to dizziness during exercise.

For example, Meniere’s disease is a condition of the inner ear that can cause vertigo, dizziness, and ringing in the ears. Similarly, conditions such as tachycardia, bradycardia, and arrhythmia can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, leading to dizziness during exercise.

It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect you may have an underlying medical issue contributing to your dizziness.

Medications:

Certain medications, especially those that affect blood pressure, can cause dizziness during exercise. If you’re taking medication and experiencing dizziness during exercise, talk to your healthcare provider about potential side effects and alternative treatment options.

What To Do If You Feel Lightheaded When Running?

Running can be a great form of exercise, but it’s important to listen to your body and take steps to prevent dizziness and lightheadedness. One key factor to keep in mind is staying hydrated. Dehydration can lead to a drop in blood pressure, which can cause dizziness during exercise. It’s important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run to stay hydrated.

Another factor to consider is nutrition. As mentioned earlier, food is energy, and if you’re skipping meals, you won’t have the fuel you need to keep up with the demands of your training. Make sure to eat a balanced diet that includes complex carbohydrates and protein, and try to have a light meal or snack before your run.

Additionally, improper breathing can contribute to dizziness while running. Focus on taking deep breaths and syncing your breath with your foot strikes to help prevent shallow breathing.

If you’re experiencing dizziness while running, it’s important to take steps to address the issue. Stop running and find a cool spot to rest, elevate your legs above your heart to promote blood flow, and try to identify the cause of your symptoms. If your symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to seek medical attention.

Research has also shown that regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost overall mood and well-being. So, keep training strong, but always prioritize your health and safety.

Feeling Dizzy While Running – The Conclusion

Congratulations, you’ve stumbled upon the ultimate guide to banishing lightheadedness during your runs! If you’re tired of feeling dizzy and craving the secrets to running with a clear head, today’s post is your golden ticket. Say goodbye to those pesky bouts of disorientation!

Remember, the devil is in the details, but don’t fret. Once you implement the strategies we’ve outlined, the rest is a breeze. But hey, don’t just take my word for it. I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, and burning questions. Drop them in the section below, and let’s keep the conversation going.

Thank you for gracing us with your presence today, fellow runner. Your determination and unwavering commitment to training strongly inspire us all. So lace up those shoes, embrace the challenges, and let’s conquer that dizzy dragon together!

Keep training strong,

David D.

Break the 20-Minute Barrier: Master the Art of Running a Sub-20 5K

5K good time

Looking for a sub-20 5K training plan?

You have come to the right place.

Let’s be honest, a sub-20 minute 5K is no easy feat. It requires serious dedication, hard work, and of course, good genes. But don’t let that discourage you! With the right training plan, anyone can crush their personal best and become a member of this elite club.

First, let’s break down what it takes to run a sub-20 minute 5K. According to the International Association of Athletics Federations, the current world records for men and women stand at an astonishing 12:37 and 14.11, respectively.

Of course, these times are set by elite athletes who run for a living, but for the rest of us, anything under 30 minutes is a great finish time.

And for those seeking to challenge themselves and reach their full running potential, joining the Sun 20 Minutes 5K club is a true feat. How quickly you can get to sub-20 will depend on your current fitness level, gender, age, and natural talent. However, with the right training and a bit of perseverance, you can do it!

That’s where today’s post comes in handy.

In today’s article, I’ll dive into virtually everything related to running a sub-20 5K. And that includes:

  • The exact breakdown of the distance
  • The right pace for a sub-20 minutes 5K
  • The importance of recovery for maximum running performance
  • How to train for the distance
  • And so much more

Ready?

Let’s lace up and dig in.

Note- Keep in mind that you’ll need to be pretty close to 20 minutes already to make the needed improvement in 8 weeks. How fast you can get to the sub-20-min 5K depends on you—your current conditioning level, your gender, your age, your response to training, and your natural talent.

A beginner runner? Try this couch to 5K plan. You can also try my sub 30 5K plan if you don’t feel ready yet.

A Sub 20 5K – The Breakdown

So, how hard is it to run a sub-20 5K?

Regardless of fitness level, experience, gender, age, or any other factor, to run 3.1 miles under 20 minutes, you’ll need to be able to run under the target race of 6:25 minutes per mile for the whole distance—or roughly 4 minutes per kilometer.

For most, running at that sort of speed demands serious training.

That’s why if you’re serious about running your best 5K race or reaching any other challenging running goal, you must break it down into smaller, more easily achievable milestones.

When you do so while training hard and staying committed, you’ll, sooner or later, find yourself at the finish line.

To understand what it takes to run a good 5K, let’s make sure we all understand just how far the race is.

  • A 5K is 3.1 miles in distance.
  • Sub-20-min is anything less than 20 minutes.
  • Divided by 3.1 miles, that’s roughly 6.4 minutes per mile.
  • That equals a 6:26 running pace.

So, if you run the first 3 miles at 6:26 per mile, you’ll reach the 3-mile mark at 19:18, and then you still got 1/10 of a mile to make it to the end.

If you keep up the pace, it will take you roughly 40 seconds to run the last one-tenth of a mile, rounding up at 19:58 race time.

So how do you get there?

Simple: get faster.

How to Run a 5K in 20 Minutes or Less

I hate to sound like a broken record, but running a sub-20-minute 5K will take some serious dedication, but with the right training plan, you can achieve this goal and join the exclusive club of runners who have accomplished this feat.

To get there, you’ll need to prepare your body for sustained speed at a much higher intensity than it may be used to. This means incorporating intervals into your training runs a couple of times per week. Intervals are short bursts of high-intensity running followed by periods of rest or low-intensity recovery.

In my own experience, interval training can lead to significant improvements in running performance, particularly in events like the 5K.

And don’t take my word for it.

A study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that runners who incorporated interval training into their training plan improved their 5K times by an average of 39 seconds.

Here’s an example.

  • Start with a 15-minute dynamic warm-up.
  • Perform ten 30-second controlled sprints at 80 to 90 percent of maximum effort, getting your heart rate as high as possible. Recover for one minute between each sprint.
  • Cool down and jog for 5 minutes.

For more sub-20 5K specific interval training, here are some suggestions and routines that can be performed on the track or the road.

  • 5 x 1km at race pace with three minutes of jog recovery.
  • 10 x 400m with 60 seconds of jog recovery.
  • 6 x 800m with two minutes of jog recovery.

Take Time to Recover

Running a successful race is not just about training hard and pushing your limits; it’s also about knowing how to take care of your body before and after the race. It’s like preparing a car for a long trip – you need to make sure it has enough fuel and oil and is in good condition to avoid any breakdowns on the way. Similarly, as a runner, you need to make sure you have all the necessary components for optimal performance.

One of the most important aspects of running a sub 20 5K is practicing good recovery. If you don’t allow your body to recover properly, you can easily run yourself into the ground just before race day. That’s why it’s crucial to take a few days off from any type of exercise and focus on stretching and relaxing.

picture of Running Tips

Here’s what you need to do to ensure you’ll be in good shape on race day.

  • Sleep right. You can train hard all you want, but skimping on sleep won’t do any good. Also, pre-race jitters may keep you awake the night before the race. Shoot for at least 8 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep during the night time.
  • Stop any hard training. Take two days completely off from any type of exercise. Ideally, train hard on a Monday or Tuesday and race on a Saturday or Sunday. Spend a few days leading to the race stretching and relaxing.
  • Eat right. Make sure you have enough fuel in the tank. Opt for high-energy and easily digestible food.
  • Drink plenty of water too. Your body is just like a car—you need to put good fuel in it to have performed its best—no way around that.
  • Get there early. Make it to the race site at least an hour before the start. This will give you enough time to take care of the many things that need to be done on race morning, including parking, using the restroom, packet pick-up, etc.
  • Warm-up. Race day is not the day to test out a new warm-up routine. Instead, perform the same warm-up routine as you did during training.

Find Your 20-Minute 5K Pace.

To have the best race experience, it’s key to remember that the race is not a sprint but rather a strategic challenge. Just like a chess game, you need to think ahead and plan your moves accordingly.

The 3.1-mile race is relatively short, so it’s easy to assume that all you need to do is to dash to the finish line.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, sprinting right off the gate will more than likely result in accumulated fatigue and poor performance.

Sure, research shows that starting a 5K race a little bit faster than your goal pace may help, but don’t start with a sprint.

Instead, opt for an even pace, speeding up gradually and as you go.

Begin by setting into a good rhythm where your breath and heart rate are sustainable.

Ideally, aim for a pace of about five to ten seconds per mile, slower than your goal pace for the first mile.

Keep in mind that it might feel slow, even too slow, and you might be getting passed by runners you want to beat.

As soon as you clear the first mile, start to increase your effort and pace into the goal pace range.

Then run the last tenth as fast as you can.

Push your body harder than you ever had before, and hopefully, you’ll achieve that sub-20 5k time.

But how do you find your goal pace? It all comes down to knowing your body and understanding your limits. Start by setting into a good rhythm and gradually building up your pace over time. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you’re going too slow in the first mile – it’s all part of the plan.

It’s also important to be prepared to adjust your pacing during adverse weather conditions or difficult terrain. If you encounter a steep hill or headwind during the race, you may need to slow down temporarily to conserve energy and maintain your overall pace.

Be Flexible

While the training plan outlined in this article is a great starting point for anyone looking to run a sub-20 minute 5K race, it’s important to remember that everyone’s fitness level and schedule are different. That’s why you should consider customizing the plan to fit your individual needs.

For example, if you’re a beginner runner, you may want to start with shorter distances or slower paces. Alternatively, if you have more experience, you may want to increase your mileage or incorporate more speed workouts.

It’s also important to consider your schedule when planning your training. If you have a busy work schedule or other commitments, you may need to modify the plan to fit your available time. Consider splitting your workouts into shorter sessions throughout the day or incorporating alternative workouts such as HIIT or yoga to maintain your fitness level when you’re short on time.

Your Sub-20 5K Plan

To help provide you with the exact step by step plan (or at least a path) to follow, here’s a a 3-week training program designed to to get your body ready to run a a 5K in 20 minutes or less.

Week 1

Monday: 30-45 easy run

Tuesday: 5 X 1Km at 4:00 per kilometer

Wednesday: 30 minutes easy

Thursday: Rest or cross train

Friday: 3 X 2Km at 4:10 per kilometer

Saturday: 60 to 90 minutes long run

Sunday: Rest or cross train

Week 2

Monday: 30-45 easy run

Tuesday: 10 hill sprints (45 to 60 seconds sprints)

Wednesday: 30 minutes easy

Thursday: Rest or cross train

Friday: 40-50 fartleks

Saturday: 60 to 90 minutes long run

Sunday: Rest or cross train

Week 3

Monday: 30-45 easy run

Tuesday: 10 X 400m sprints

Wednesday: 30 minutes easy

Thursday: Rest or cross train

Friday: 6 X 800m at 4:00 per kilometer

Saturday: 60 to 90 minutes long run

Sunday: Rest or cross train

Running a sub-20-minute 5K – The Conclusion

Congratulations!

By completing this sub-20 5K training plan, you’ve taken the first step towards breaking through your own sound barrier.

Just like a rocket launching into space, you’ve blasted through the limits of what you thought was possible and emerged on the other side stronger, faster, and more resilient than ever before.

Remember, statistics show that only a small fraction of all 5K runners can achieve this feat – so be proud of yourself for having the courage to try. As you continue on your running journey, keep pushing yourself to new heights, and never forget the feeling of triumph you experienced when you crossed that finish line in under 20 minutes.

With each step you take, you’ll be one step closer to the stars. Keep running strong, and who knows – maybe one day you’ll even reach the moon.

How To Run Commute – The Complete Running To Work Guide

run commute

It’s a fantastic way to sweat while doing something productive.

But it requires some preparation and planning.

I’ve compiled today’s article’s ultimate guide to starting your run-commute.

By the end, you’ll learn the following:

  • What is run commuting?
  • The benefits of running to and from work
  • How to get started with run commuting
  • The run commuter checklist
  • How to choose the right running bag pack for running commuting
  • How to plan your route
  • How to get cleaned up
  • And so much more…

Let’s get started

The Benefits of The Run-Commute

Though run-commuting is not a popular way to get to and from work, there are many benefits to doing so.

Let’s discuss a few.

  • Running Is Fast Than Walking. On average, expect to be able to walk three to four miles per hour. But if you can keep an 8-minute running pace, you can cover 7.5 miles per hour or 12 kilometers per hour. In some cities, running can also be faster than driving. For example, driving speeds in crowded cities can be around seven mph.
  • Boosts productivity. Running first thing in the morning improves your productivity. Not only will you arrive at the office feeling awake, but your brain will be functioning at its best.
  • Reduce Stress. Running home from work can help clear up your mind and clear the day’s stress from your system so you can enjoy the rest of your day.
  • No More Traffic. Hate getting stuck in traffic? Then run commuting is for you. By running to work, you’ll no longer have to worry about getting stuck in traffic for hours and hours, moving at a snail’s pace while losing your sanity with every passing minute. Instead, you’ll be the master of your work commute. So say goodbye to burning traffic—as long as you have a realistic run-commute plan.
  • More base miles. One of the best ways to build endurance is to do a lot of long, slow miles. The more miles you can run without fatigue, the faster you’ll likely run on race day. But it’s not easy to find time for them. Running to and from work is a great opportunity to add miles to your weekly total without compromising your lifestyle.
  • Running Is Cheap. Compared to other transportation means, running is cheap. You don’t need to pay for any gas, train tickets, or parking fees. It’s just you and your feet. Of course, you’ll still use up your running shoes, but you’ll use them most productively and frugally.
  • Eco-friendly. You’ll be doing an excellent service to the environment by leaving a “smaller” footprint and inspiring other people to follow (and run) in your footsteps.

How to Start Run-Commuting 

Here are the guidelines you need to become a daily run commuter.

Plan Thoroughly

Success favors the prepared mind—this couldn’t be more true regarding run-commuting.

As a rule, plan out the logistics and running gear needed for the job in advance—you’ll need more than your running shoes.

Here are the five steps to an effective run-commute plan:

  • Make a Run commute list
  • Lay out your running gear
  • Get the right running backpack
  • Plan your running route
  • Have fun Run Commuting

Let’s explain each step.

Make a Run Commute List

Make a checklist of everything you’ll need for the run and work.

Planning takes care of all your excuses not to start running and commuting.

Here are the run commute essentials to consider.

  • Running gear such as your shoes, clothes, reflective vest, and a GPS watch,
  • A small purse,
  • Your phone and other electronics,
  • Work-related stuff, like your laptop, a diary, a lightweight folder, and glasses,
  • door keys,
  • Breakfast and/or lunch packs. Snacks too,
  • A water bottle,
  • A waterproof jacket that wicks moisture away for a rainy day,
  • A spare plastic bag to keep your spare clothes dry,
  • Reflective tape or a reflective vest if you plan to run near sunrise and/or sunset on roads.
  • Towel and toiletries

Of course, you cannot keep all this in your pocket and typical work bag.

You’ll need a special running bag.

Let’s see how to choose one.

Running Backpack

The most important piece of run commute gear is the one that carries everything—your backpack.

Few things are as frustrating as a backpack that bounces all over the place and causes painful rubbing.

Of course, if you can narrow your carry-on items to your phone, wallet, and keys, then a fanny pack is enough.

But that’s not always the case, as most of us need to carry more, whether it’s clothes, a laptop, toiletries, or any other item.

The market for running packs has grown thanks to run commute’s rising popularity in recent years. You can find these online and in most running shops.

The Right Backpacks For Run-Commuting

Get a backpack that’s specifically designed for running.

These are usually made with ultralight materials and have straps that wrap around the chest or waist level. This helps prevent it from bouncing all over the place during a run

The straps also help evenly distribute the backpack’s weight and hold it comfortably across your back.

Make sure the backpack fits firmly without chafing or weighing you down.

Try out a few before you make up your mind.

Pack Smart

Do not pack more than you must—or this will wear you out, especially when you’re not used to running with weights.

One trick to help you avoid carrying extra items is to bring several days’ worth of toiletries and clothing in your drawer or locker room.

Things to leave at the office may include:

  • Deodorant
  • Suit
  • Loose change
  • Laptop
  • Hard files
  • Towel
  • Work shoes

Not sure if your backpack is waterproof?

Pop your clothes and electronics into a plastic bag.

how to run commute

Know The Route

Always taking public transport to the office? Then you might not know exactly how far is your daily commute.

So, as a rule, know your routine. Then, check your online maps and look for the alternative route if it seems not passable. You can also check out likely routes by car or bike first if you’re unfamiliar with the region.

It’s not fun if you get lost and run out of time. Few things are worse than arriving at the office drenched wet, exhausted, hungry, and behind schedule because you got lost and had to run some extra miles

I’d also recommend looking for the most pedestrian-friendly areas, especially if running through an urban area.

Running on the freeway is no fun—it’s also illegal.

What’s more?

Have a few running routes of different lengths to vary your running distance and make your training more enjoyable.

When It’s Too Far

Let’s be practical.

If you live 30 miles from your office, then you’ll have to run an ultramarathon every time you run commute. That will be asking for too much.

Here’s the workaround: you don’t have to run the whole distance.

Here are three options:

  • Get off the train or bus a stop earlier, then log the remaining miles on your feet.
  • If you drive to work, perhaps you can find a safe parking lot, then run the rest of the distance to the office.
  • Look for a colleague who lives closer to the office and asks them to join you.

Give It a Test Run

Anything that can derail you from your new plan during the early stages will discourage you from carrying on.

Before running to and from work, your first step should be to test your running gear and run-commute strategy.

Doing this will ensure that everything is in place and working smoothly. Once you know you have a solid strategy and backpack, try your first few runs on days when the weather is friendly.

Get Cleaned Up

Unless you’re willing to spend the next work shift avoiding all of your colleagues, then having a shower is a must.

Most office buildings have a shower (even facilities for fitness fanatics), but what if your workplace is a shower-free zone?

The easy solution is to take a bus/train to the office, then run home and shower in the comfort of your home.

Insist on running to work, but your office building is a free shower zone?

Consider visiting nearby cheap gyms or pools you can join and use their changing facilities.

Take Care of Your Hygiene

Here are the essentials:

  • Shampoo,
  • Soap,
  • Deodorant,
  • Comb,
  • Foot powder,
  • Wipes,
  • Lotion

You can easily find all of this in the travel section of any department store.

Get all you need, stash all your toiletries in a little bag, and store it in your drawer.

How To Run Commute  – The Conclusion

Here you have it!

Now you know all there is to know about running to and/or from work.

I hope you start doing that soon.

So please make sure to build this awesome running habit ASAP.

Thank you for reading my blog

Cheers.

How To Choose The best Running Shoes for Overpronation

running shoes for overpronators

If you’re a runner who overpronates, you might consider getting running shoes specifically designed for this condition.

Overpronation may cause shin splints, runners’ knees, and other overuse injuries—not ideal issues to deal with while logging the miles, right?

But what’s overpronation to start with? And how do running shoes for overpronators help (if they help)?

Keep on reading to find out the answers.

In this article, I’ll briefly overview overpronation and how to choose the best running shoes for overpronators.

Sounds great?

Let’s get started.

What Is Pronation

To understand overpronation, let’s first discuss what pronation means.

Pronation refers to the foot’s natural movement from heel to toe during foot landing while walking or running.

When your foot hits the ground, it rolls inward to absorb the shock, and your arch bears, on average, three times your body weight.

Those with arches that collapse excessively are overpronators, while those whose arches collapse relatively little or not enough are known as supinators.

A neutral runner is someone whose arch collapses an average amount—not too much or too little.

Overpronation Explained

Overpronation refers to the excessive inward roll of the foot following a foot strike.

Technically, it occurs when your foot rolls more than 15 percent inward or downward during the foot strike cycle

When you overpronate, you’re putting more weight on the inner side of your feet. This puts excessive strain on your big and second toes.

The uneven weight distribution undermines your foot and negatively impacts other biomechanics of your legs.

Most notably, overpronation can cause strain on the big toe and second toes and instability in the lower legs, especially in the tibia, which can increase your risk of shin splints, knee pain, etc.

More than often, runners with the condition are often considered to have “flat feet.”

The Solution To Overpronation

One of the best ways to limit the effects of overpronation is to wear shoes specifically designed to address such a problem.

These are called stability and motion control shoes and offer much support and structured cushioning.

This can limit the excessive inward rolling of the foot during a foot strike, which, in theory, may help prevent injury.

But before you start using shoes for overpronators, ensure you do overpronate.

Don’t try to fix something that ain’t broken!

How To Determine Your Pronation Style

You can take many tests right now to get your pronation checked.

Go To A Running Store

The easiest (and most effective) step is to head to the local running specialty store and ask the staff to analyze your technique as you run—or walk—on a treadmill.

If you don’t have access to a sports store or want a more personalized approach, consider consulting a podiatrist and have them assess your pronation style.

The Wear Pattern Test

Don’t want to go anywhere or spend any money?

Then simply check the wear patterns on a pair of worn-out shoes.

The wear location and severity can tell you whether you need stability or motion-control shoes (more on that later).

This method can also provide extra clues about the impact on your feet. This can help you decide where you might need more support and cushion.

To perform this test, get a pair of running shoes that you have already worn out extensively. Then check the bottom of the shoes and see where the most wear is.

If most of the wear appears on the inside edges along with the ball of the foot and the heel, along the inner edge, and toward the big toe, you likely overpronate

Note – Using stable running shoes won’t cure or correct your overpronation.

Sorry, it’s too late for that. Every runner pronates. The natural inward-rolling motion is part and parcel of the gait cycle. As a runner who overpronates, you’ll need maximum support and stability.

Shoes made for overpronators are usually designed with extra arch support, a firmer midsole, and some additional cushioning that offers plenty of support.

This helps distribute the shock stress of running more effectively to limit pronation.

Since overpronation is a common issue for runners, most running shoe companies provide stability shoes and their neutral models with various degrees of support depending on your overpronation level.

How to Choose The Right Running Shoes For Overpronator

Got the confirmation about your overpronation?

Time to move to the next step.

Stability Vs. Motion Control

The main difference between stability and motion control shoes is the degree of support and cushioning.

Both stability and motion control shoes are designed to manage overpronation but to different degrees.

Stability shoes only provide midsole support and are often designed with few other support systems. This makes them ideal for runners who overpronate slightly.

On the other hand, motion-control shoes are for more severe pronation issues.

These offer support virtually everywhere on the shoe—from the midsole to the heel.

Motion-control shoes are also designed with additional support in the heel of the shoes and the arch.

Motion-control shoes also tend to be less flexible than stability shoes, allowing for less movement of the feet.

This is why these shoes are heavier and more durable than the average.

This may make your running experience less comfortable, especially if you’re not used to running in them.

Not sure how to make sense of this?

Err on the side of stability shoes.

These tend to be more flexible and less heavy than motion-control shoes.

They’re also easier to run in.

If the overpronation is causing problems, try moving onto motion control shoes.

The Checklist For Running Shoes For Overpronators

In short, here’s is what to look for when choosing running shoes for overpronation:

  • Proper arch support
  • Good stability
  • A supportive and cushioned midsole or insole
  • A firmer structure and sole
  • A durable outsole, preferably made from rubber
  • Motion control for serious overpronators.

The 5 Best Running Shoes For Overpronators

Below are some shoes that offer some of the features that overpronators need.

Feel free to experiment, then choose the shoe that best suits your needs.

Asics GEL-Kayano 24 Lite-Show

ASICS Gel Kayano 24 is one of the best shoes for overpronators, providing comfort and stability.

This shoe focuses on the two primary spots where you need a lot of support as an overpronator—the heel and midsole.

Despite the extra cushioning in those key areas, the shoe is also lightweight and flexible.

What’s more?

ASICS lite-show reflective technology helps you stay more visible in low light conditions, which is key for staying safe when running early in the morning or at night when it’s dark outside.

Asics Gel-Kayano 27

Another awesome shoe designed by Asics for the overpronator.

This shoe is one of the top stability shoes, designed with a dual-density midsole, a structured heel counter, and an outsole Guidance line to guide your foot straight and lessen pronation.

The sole is also more flexible to help encourage a more natural gait.

What’s more?

The mesh upper helps your feet cool and comfortable.

Brooks Addiction 14

This fantastic motion-control shoe works very well for runners who require a lot of stability on their runs and heavy runners who overpronate.

It also provides a generous fit, ideal for those with flat feet or using custom orthotics.

Remember that Brooks Addiction shoes tend to be heavier than other shoes since they have a lot of cushioning.

Saucony Omni ISO 2

In Latin for “everything” or “all,” Omni ISO 2 is a stability shoe that works well for overpronators.

It has a good fit and comes in a good-looking design.

The shoe also features ISOFIT technology, which appeals to various foot types as it adapts to most foot types for a comfortable fit.

Running Shoes For Overpronators – The Conclusion

There you have it!

If you’ve ever wondered how to deal with overpronation while running, you know something about the subject.

Being well-informed is key to making the right decision—running is no exception.

Please feel free to leave your questions and comments in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep training strong.

How To Choose The Best Knee Brace for Running

knee brace for knee pain

Run often enough, and you’ll, sooner or later, experience knee pain. Most runners suffer from knee pain at one point or another. This pain can range from annoying aches to debilitating pain that can stop anyone in their tracks.

Research shows that the knee joint is afflicted by roughly 50 percent of all running injuries. In addition, as many as 70 percent of runners report experiencing knee pain at some point.

That’s a lot of runners in pain, and if you happen to be one of them, you’ve more than likely considered using a knee brace in the hope of soothing your pain and speeding up recovery.

In this article, I’ll explain a few things you need to know when considering a knee brace for running. But the most important thing is to consult a doctor or a physical before “fixing” any issue with a knee brace.

More specifically, I’ll look into the following:

  • What is a knee brace for runners?
  • The benefits of knee braces
  • Can you run with a knee brace?
  • When to wear a knee brace for running (and when not)
  • The different types of running knee braces
  • How to choose the right knee braces for runners
  • And so much more

Sounds great?

Let’s get started.

What is A Knee Brace?

A knee brace is a catch-all term for various devices designed to provide * support to the knee joint and (hopefully) relieve pain and/or speed up recovery post-injury.

Knee braces are usually made from foam, metal, plastic, or elastic straps and materials and come in many colors, designs, and sizes.

There are various knee braces, such as knee sleeves, motion control brace, and several more (explained below), which offer a range of knee joint support levels.

A good knee brace usually applies pressure around various structures of the knee. This, in turn, may provide additional support for knee stability.

But here’s a little caveat. It’s not always easy to tell when your knee requires extra support.

What’s more?

There’s a wide range of braces in the market—so what kind suits you the best?

So do knee braces work?

The best answer I can come up with is a definite maybe.

Companies that make these devices claim—and often exaggerate—the many benefits of their products.

It’s marketing, after all. Who could blame them?

But scientific research is still in the woods.

Check the following studies:

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Here’s my best advice.

If you’re considering using a knee brace because of knee pain from running or have a history of a knee injury, consult your doctor about your options.

Don’t let the marketing lure you in.

Only your doctor can decide if and when you should use a knee brace for knee pain while running—and the decision should be made based on your knee condition.

Now that we got the medical warning, let’s get more into the specifics.

Should You Run With Knee Support

I hate to sound like a broken record, but you’ll experience knee pain from running sooner or later. The more miles, the more likely for knee support to follow.

Running is a high-impact activity. For this reason, the sport is notoriously known for many overuse injuries. Knee problems are common.

Don’t take my word for it. Research published in the Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute reported that roughly 20 to 40 percent of all knee issues occur at the joint, specifically the patella or the kneecap. This area experiences a lot of wear and tear linked with high-impact exercise for long periods.

So when should you start wearing a knee brace?

A knee brace might be helpful if the pain gradually starts and isn’t an acute injury.  You can also use it as a proactive tool against knee injury. This is why many pro athletes wear knee braces during training and competition.

Fortunately, wearing a knee brace, as we’ll see today, may help soothe and prevent knee problems and allow you to keep training comfortably and pain-free for the foreseeable future.

 

When Should You Use a Knee Brace?

The rule of thumb is to use knee braces when you’re experiencing knee pain or would like to prevent injuries during running.

Knee braces can also be used for rehabilitative goals, for example, following an ACL injury.

When it’s the case, a brace may limit the movement of joints while allowing the patient to slow recovery and regain their range of motion.

Keep in mind: Use a knee brace under the guidance of your doctor or therapist, who can help you pinpoint the exact culprit behind your knee pain.

Don’t fall for the hype.

When Should You NOT Wear a Knee Brace?

Despite the ads, a knee brace won’t answer all of your knee pain prayers

In reality, sometimes, using one can cause more harm than good.

If you’re dealing with a serious injury, such as a sprain or ligament tear, you should rest your knee instead of wearing a brace and pushing through the pain.

Even if you use the best brace worldwide, you risk worsening your injury. So, if you experience stubborn pain or swelling or can’t fully straighten or bend the injured knee, it’s time to visit a doctor.

Once you get the green light from your doctor, then it’s to pick a proper brace and start running slowly against it. The severity of your injury will determine your mileage and the kind of knee brace.

What’s more?

Remember that a knee brace is a temporary tool to fix any underlying problems that lead to knee pain.

What’s more?

Some medical conditions can make you prone to the side effects of using a knee brace. In addition, avoid using a knee brace if you’re experiencing pain in your lower limbs or have diminished sensation.

How To Choose The Right Knee Brace – Based on Brace and Injury Type

There are many types of knee braces, coming in various sizes and shapes and performing different functions.

While some knee braces are designed to prevent injury, others are designed to help speed up recovery. This is why you need to know the REASON you need a brace. Applying the right solution starts with understanding the problem. Otherwise, you might do more damage.

For this reason, the best running knee brace for you depends on your specific needs.

Let me explain some of the common types.

Knee Sleeve

Although not technically braces, knee sleeves are the most common type of knee support.

These come in various sizes; you can slip them over your knee under any clothing.

Knee sleeves offer compression to the knee and help soothe swelling and pain in the whole area.

But still, allow you a full range of motion.

Since they’re minimalist braces, these work best for reducing and soothing mild running pain.

For serious cases of knee pain, choose a brace that offers more stability and support, just like the following.

Patellar Brace

Looking for more support?

Patellar braces, as the name implies, help guide the kneecap—the patella—to track evenly and reduce pressure on the tendon.

This option works very well if your knee pain is caused by Runners Knee or Jumper knee (patellar tendonitis).

These are designed to prevent the patella from moving out of place. They’re usually employed to treat the causes of patellar tendinitis and patella sublocation. You can choose between a sleeve or a hinged design for patellar stabilizers.

Wraparound Brace

If you’re looking for maximum support while keeping somewhat of normal range of motion, look no further than a wraparound brace.

These cover roughly as much of the knee as a sleeve but tend to be thicker, which provides more support and stability.

Wraparound braces work well for runners dealing with mild to moderate knee pain.

Monitor your usage duration and whether your symptoms improve when using such a brace.

Avoid using them on a religious basis. Too much support can be…a little bit too much!

Rehabilitative Knee Brace

Recovering from a knee injury?

A rehabilitative knee brace helps regulate movement to protect the affected ligament from further damage.

This lets the knee recover at its own pace without any rushing. To get the right rehabilitative knee brace, consider going to a professional. For example, bracing services at Reflex Knees can ensure the brace is fitted correctly.

Functional Braces

Have a history of knee injuries?

Try functional braces.

These work well for runners who require a higher level of protection and support post-surgery.

This brace helps keep the injured knee properly aligned during bending movements. This, in turn, helps protect the ligament from further damage.

The Conclusion

Knee braces work very well for protecting against knee pain while running, but relying on them too much and too often can prove problematic.

As a rule, use knee braces only in pain cases, then stop once your condition improves.

And yes, get the green light from your doctor before you start using one.

If pain persists, or you regularly need a knee brace, consult a doctor or physical therapist to determine the root of your pain.

Tips For Using A Knee Brace

Here are a few things to remember when shopping for a brace for knee pain.

Choose The Right Level Of Protection

So, what’s the proper level of protection for a knee brace?

It depends on what’s ailing you.

As I have already explained, different knee braces offer various levels of support.

It’s up to you and only you to decide which ones make the more sense.

The rest is just details, as the saying goes.

Good Fit

Just like running shoes, your knee brace has to fit properly if you want it to work for you.

As a rule, a knee brace should feel comfortable and snug.

It has to firmly fit your knee without restricting blood flow or clamping on too much.

All in all, the simpler the brace, the easier it fits.

Those made from elastic materials can be simply used as a sleeve over the knee.

You just need to find the right size for you.

The Right Compression

So how tight should the brace be?

As a rule, you should experience a feeling of tightness around your knee when wearing a knee brace.

But it has to feel comfortable and offers the support needed.

Is the brace too tight or cutting circulation? Then go for a larger-sized brace or loosen the straps.

The 2-Finger Trick

Would you like to know how to ensure a proper fit?

Perform the 2-finger trick.

The fit of a knee brace depends on its type.

But performing this trick can help you decide which is best for you.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin by putting on the brace and securing the straps you normally would.
  • Slide two fingers between your leg and the strap.
  • It may be too tight if your two fingers hardly fit under the strap.
  • When it’s the case, loosen up the strap and try again.

What’s more?

Have your brace examined by your doctor, who can confirm that you’re using the right one correctly.

Be Consistent

Remember to wear the brace during running—or any form of physical activity that causes pain in the knee joint.

In other words, you have to be consistent about it, or it won’t help much.

But do not push too hard.

Stop running and review your actions if you feel abnormal pain or tenderness.

Paying attention to your body is the golden rule of staying fit without getting hurt.

Knee Braces For Runners – The Conclusion

Using knee braces while running can relieve pain and protect our knees from further damage and injury.

But as a rule, it’s key to use a brace correctly and stick to your doctor’s advice to get the maximum benefits from it—otherwise. As I repeatedly say, the brace may harm your fitness and well-being.

And you don’t want that.

Please feel free to leave your comments and question in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep running strong.

 

Stress Fractures In Runners: Causes, Symptoms, Tests & Treatment

running 3 miles a day

Out of all running injuries, nothing strikes more fear into a runner’s heart than stress fractures. They’re a painful, nagging condition that requires long weeks, even months, of recovery.

What’s more?

This notorious injury is common among runners, especially those that run long distances and/or push themselves more than they should.

So would you like to learn more about how to manage stress injuries in runners? Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, I’ll provide a full overview of stress fractures in runners. By the end, you’ll learn the following:

  • What is a stress fracture?
  • The causes of stress fractures in runners
  • The most stress fracture-prone areas in runners
  • The main symptoms to look for
  • Can you run with a stress fracture?
  • And so much more

Stress Fractures In Runners Explained

Also known as a hairline fracture, basically a small crack or severe bruising in a bone.

Stress fractures are the classic form of overuse injury caused by the gradual build-up of trauma from repetitive submaximal loading and bad posture.

The typical stress fracture onsets as a stress reaction, which manifests as swelling around the bone.

Then, in case it progresses, it can develop a small crack. If this injury reaches this stage,  you’ll likely have to rest the injured limb for a few weeks—even months—to let your body heal.

Surveys show that stress fractures may account for 20 percent of all running injuries.

Athletes who participate in high-impact sports like basketball, football, and soccer are also prone to this condition.

In some cases, but rarely among productive age runners, stress fractures may be blamed on inadequate bone mineral density or bone diseases, such as osteoporosis.

They can also be traced to genetic disorders or nutritional and hormonal imbalances.

Stress Fractures Vs. Bone Breaks

This may surprise you, but a fractured bone and a broken one aren’t technically the same.

As I explained earlier, a stress fracture is a bone crack or break that occurs when force is applied to a bone repeatedly and over time.

This means that they develop slowly over an extended period.

The other characteristic is your bone stays still in the same place. You won’t even notice anything except the ongoing pain or bruising.

On the other hand, the typical bone break happens when an outside force is applied suddenly to a bone. The key here is the discontinuation of bone structure.

Falls, car accidents, and sports contacts like football can often cause bone breaks.

Common Stress Fractures In Runners

A stress fracture can strike any bone, but the weight-bearing bones are most prone in runners.

Let me explain.

The lower leg in the shin bone (the tibia) is the most affected area.

Survey shows that about half of all stress fractures occur in the tibia.

But stress fractures are also common in other bones.

The foot, especially the second metatarsal, is another stress fracture-prone bone.

More specifically, the second and third metatarsals in the foot, according to the American Academy Of Orthopedic Surgeons. According to surveys, roughly 25 percent of all stress fractures strike these two bones.

The condition is also pretty common in:

  • The heel, what’s known as the calcaneus;
  • The ankle joint, more commonly in a small bone called the talus;
  • The fibula, the outer bone of the ankle and lower leg; and
  • The navicular is a boat-shaped bone on the top of the midfoot, specifically in the ankle between the talus and the cuneiform bones.
  • The talus is a small bone located within the ankle joint

Extreme (but rare) Cases of Stress Fractures

The bigger bones in your pelvis, hips, and femur are also prone to stress fractures, which aren’t common among runners.

And only a few people can feel it since it’s not the main weight-bearing.

Causes of Stress Fractures While Running

The primary cause of the condition is, of course, overuse.

If you increase your training volume and/or intensity too fast and over a short period, you’re setting yourself up for injury.

Other factors that may contribute to stress fractures include:

  • Bad footwear. Running in improper running shoes that provide little or no shock-absorbing ability.
  • Being a female runner. Research shows that female athletes are more prone than male athletes. This is blamed on the so-called “female athlete triad,” a mix of eating disorders, bone density issues, and menstrual dysfunction.
  • Running technique. Overstriding may sometimes contribute to tibial stress fracture as it stresses the main weight-bearing bones more.
  • Inadequate nutrition. For example, insufficient vitamin D intake can put you at risk, according to research from The Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery.
  • Bone conditions. Bone disease compromises bone strength and density. Osteoporosis is one example.
  • Weather condition. Research shows that stress fractures are more common in the winter than in any other season of the year due to a deficiency in Vitamin D.
  • Foot Abnormalities. According to research, runners with anatomical foot abnormalities, such as fallen arches, are more prone to stress fractures than those with a neutral arch.
  • Muscle tightness. Research from the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy reported that tight calves make you roughly five times more likely to sustain a metatarsal stress fracture.

Symptoms of a Stress Fracture

If you notice any bony tenderness that worsens during running but subsides during rest, you might be experiencing the onset of a stress fracture.

Stress fractures are characterized as achy or generalized pain in and around the affected area.

You can’t pinpoint the exact place.

This pain usually develops slowly and worsens during running or any weight-bearing activity.

Pain worsens the more miles you log in. Then, it becomes highly localized to a specific “area” on the bone, which will even be painful to the touch. Sometimes it causes bruising but is mild.

Devoid of rest, the pain gradually worsens—to the point where it limits your range of motion and alters your running gait.

stress fractures while running

How Are Stress Fractures Diagnosed

Sometimes, your doctor can diagnose a stress fracture from a medical history and physical checkup, but imaging tests are often required to confirm the condition.

Since stress fractures are thin, X-rays usually cannot spot them, especially shortly after the onset of pain. The doctor may recommend an MRI or CT scan in addition to the physical checkup.

Can you Run With a Stress Fracture?

Though you might feel tempted to run on a stress fracture, it’s never a good idea. Running through a stress fracture does nothing but delay healing and will likely cause a compensatory injury for changing your running gait.

From my experience and the stories I’ve heard, I wouldn’t risk it.

It’s the dumbest thing you can do as a runner.

Running through the tibia, fibula, or fracture requires a more serious injury. It’s also painful since these are the major weight-bearing bones that withstand a lot of the stresses of running.

What’s the next plan?

Depends.

If it’s an incomplete fracture with no misalignment, bandage, and casting might help. But if it’s a complete fracture with multiple breakages, a knife and fixation are the only solution.

Next? Six months rest.

As a rule of thumb, avoid running through a stress fracture.

What Should I Do If I Do Have A Stress Fracture?

If you suspect a stress fracture, stop training altogether and do what you must to speed up recovery.

Next, visit a physician—preferably a podiatrist or an orthopedist—to have it diagnosed.

Let me break down what you need to do.

Stop High Impact Exercise

Your first step is to let the affected bone(s) recover completely following injury.

It takes at least 28 days for complete remodeling.

I’d recommend that you cross-train during your recovery period.

Choose exercises with minimum impact.

Ideal options include aqua jogging, cycling, swimming, or yoga.

You’re good to go if you avoid high-impact weight-bearing exercises like running, rope jumping, and plyometrics.

Keep it as long as you feel comfortable before adding the intensity.

Reassess every month.

Cold Therapy

Apply ice on the affected area to keep swelling down and ease tenderness.

I’d recommend using a frozen bag of beans or ice wrapped in a towel or cloth for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, at least three times a day.

Just whatever you do, do not apply a source of cold directly on your skin.

Compress it

Compress the injured limb by lightly wrapping it in a soft elastic bandage to reduce swelling.

Elevate it

Keep your injured limb raised higher than your chest level.

Using a hanging traction device can help.

Severe Cases

What should you do if home treatments don’t improve your symptoms?

Simple.

Consult a doctor or podiatrist.

They will help you determine your injury’s exact location and severity and what to do next to bounce back and speed up your recovery.

Left untreated, stress fractures can result in the bone breaking completely.

Further Tests

First of all, expect to be X-rayed.

But you may need to do more.

Often, traditional X-rays may look healthy as they might not be enough to spot a stress fracture, especially when the fracture is not completely through the bone.

For this reason, I recommend you consult a sports-oriented physician for a thorough bone scan.

They’ll typically recommend a nuclear bone scan, an MRI, or other advanced imaging techniques to fully detect the condition.

The Doctors Recommended Treatment Options

Your doctor will recommend taking an NSAID—Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs— such as Ibuprofen and Paracetamol to alleviate pain and reduce swelling.

Depending on the area and the severity of the stress fracture, your doctor might also recommend a splint, a cast, or protective footwear  (such as a wooden-soled sandal or a stiff-soled shoe) to immobilize the injured limb.

Crutches are also recommended to keep weight off the injured leg until you’re past the acute phase.

Sometimes, your doctor may need to put a fracture boot on the injured limb to keep the bones fixed.

This helps eliminate the stress on the leg and speed up recovery.

Expect Surgery As The Worst-Case Scenario

In extreme stress fractures, surgical intervention is needed to patch up the damage, especially when the fracture line has extended completely across the bone, or you have low bone density.

This is done by inserting a type of fastening, known as internal fixation, to support the bones of the injured area. External fixation might be one of the treatment choices for osteoporotic patients.

Again, it depends on the severity and alignment.

How long It Takes To Recover From A Stress Fracture

Recovery time varies from one runner to the next.

The good news is that most stress fractures will heal after time and rest.

Some people can recover well, starting from 28 days, but most take six weeks to six months or even longer.

That’s a wide range.

And reason stress fractures are categorized into two main groups:low risk” and “high risk.”

A stress fracture within the low-risk category often heals independently and may not call for aggressive treatment measures such as long rest time or crutches. This category includes fibular and tibial stress fractures as well as metatarsal stress fractures.

On the other hand, a high-risk stress fracture often occurs in areas notorious for healing poorly. Examples include stress fractures of the pelvis, navicular, and femur. If you develop fractures in any of these bones, you’ll need drastically longer times away from running and a proactive approach to resuming running again.

The only good news is that these high-risk fractures are less common in runners than in the low-risk types.

 

Stress Fractures in Runners – The Conclusion

There you have it!

If you’re serious about learning to better manage stress fractures from running, then today’s post should get you started on the right foot.

The rest is just details.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Running In the Sun – Benefits, Risks & Tips

running in the sun

Looking for the best advice on running in the sun? Then you’ve come to the right place.

Running in the sun is inevitable at one time or another, but it’s key to understand the benefits and risks of doing so.

Though skipping a run is never a good idea because it’s “too sunny,” you’ll want to ensure you’re safe.

How come?

Excessive exposure to sunlight can cause skin issues. When running in the relentless summer, your skin is prone to drying, flaking, chafing, windburn, and, most importantly, painful sunburns.

To make things worse, runners are especially prone.

Today’s post lays out all you need to know about protecting your skin while running in the sun. More specifically, I’ll dive into the following:

  • The danger of sunburns
  • Runners and Skin Cancer
  • Is It Okay To Run In The Sun?
  • Why Is Running In The Sun Harder?
  • The Pros of Running in the Sun
  • How To Avoid Sunburns When Running In The Sun
  • How to Choose the Right Sunscreen for runners
  • When runners should consult A Dermatologist

Sounds great?

Let’s get started.

The Dangers Of Sunburns

Sunburns put you at a higher risk for dehydration, heat stroke, premature aging, and, most importantly, skin cancer.

Here are some horrifying stats:

  • More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than cancers of the lung, breast, prostate, and colon combined.
  • Roughly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer in the U.S., according to skincancer.org
  • One in five Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetime
  • According to the American Cancer Society, one person dies from melanoma cancer every hour.

Feeling terrified?

You should be.

Runners and Skin Cancer

As far as I can tell, running has a few downsides, but a big one is that it puts you in the high-risk category for skin cancer.

This isn’t just me talking: my statement is based on many scientific papers.

One example is an Australian study in which researchers reported that marathon runners suffer more abnormal moles and other skin lesions often associated with skin cancer than a less-outdoorsy control group.

Another research published in the Archives of Dermatology reported that marathoners had increased numbers of age spots and abnormal moles—all of which increase the risk for malignant melanoma.

The reason is obvious.

When you spend extended periods training under the ruthless sun, you expose your skin to high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the most detrimental environmental risk factor for skin cancer.

Not only does spending extended periods outdoors increases exposure, but research also found that long * intense training—think long-distance training—may suppress the immune system, which makes you more prone to skin damage.

Is It Okay To Run In The Sun?

Yes, you can—as long as you’re doing it right.

The truth is, it’s safe to keep running in the sun. But If you’re running long distances and spending more and more time under the sun, it’s key to take the right precaution to protect yourself (some of which I’ll share with you later).

Why Is Running In The Sun Harder?

Running outdoors on a cold day or during the evening is one thing. Completing the same run when the sun is out is another thing.

Although most runners enjoy running on a sunny day, it usually feels much more challenging as you try to pick up the pace or go the distance.

So how come?

I hate to state the obvious, but running in the sun feels harder because sunshine is often accompanied by heat.

Running at high temperatures forces your body to exert more effort, thus, making your normal pace feel drastically harder to maintain, especially over a long distance.

Here’s the truth. The heat of the sun saps your energy fast. That’s why running when it’s hot can increase your perceived exertion. It feels much more challenging than the same run on a cooler or overcast day.

You should always put this into consideration. Making the right choices during the summer can make all the difference.

That’s not the whole story.

A blazing sun can also impair your vision, especially without sunglasses. It can also make exposed skin feel super sensitive.

Additional resource – Heart Burn While Running

The Pros of Running in the Sun

Though the risks of running in the sun are no secret—age spots, burns, premature aging, tan lines, cancer—the joys of running in the sun are plenty.

Let’s look at a few of these benefits.

Simulates Altitude Training

Don’t have the time to head to higher lands? Then try running in the heat as an alternative for boosting your endurance and power. Research has reported that training regularly in the heat impacts your body in the following ways:

  • Improved sweat rate
  • Reduced overall body temperature
  • Reduced blood lactate
  • Improved blood plasma volume
  • Increased skeletal muscle force
  • Etc.

So what does this mean?

Simply, running in the heat stresses your cardiovascular system, which strengthens your heart and allows you to run farther and faster, especially in extreme weather conditions.

running in the sun skin protection

Sun Exposure

I hate to state the obvious, but sun exposure, as you already know, is good for you. It’s highly recommended. Ultraviolet rays from the sun provide our skin cells with the needed energy to kick off the process of vitamin D synthesis.

But what do you know about vitamin D?

This is a key vitamin that improves bone strength by allowing for calcium absorption.

That’s not the whole story.

Conversely, lack of vitamin D has been associated with many conditions. For example, weight gain, depression, and some cancers, such as breast, colon, and heart, have all been linked in some way to vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is crucial because it helps to absorb calcium, which is key for stronger bones. Devoid of vitamin D, calcium absorption isn’t possible.

Make You Faster

Another benefit of running in the sun is improved speed.

Again, don’t take my word for it.

Research from the American Journal of Sports Medicine reported increased speed in cyclists after spending around 20 minutes exposed to UVA rays via a Uva lamp.

The researchers suggested that improved performance is due to nitric acid. When released into the bloodstream, this compound boosts blood flow, increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that flow into muscles.

Just remember that too much exposure, as with any good thing, can put you at a higher risk for a slew of issues rankings from the nagging annoyances to serious, even fatal, conditions.

How To Avoid Sunburns When Running In The Sun

Here are a few safety measures to help you protect your skin throughout your summer workouts.

Choose the Right Sunscreen

Recent surveys have revealed that just over 14 percent of American men and only 30 percent of American women slather on sunscreen before going out.

This simple measure might be the easiest way to prevent millions of yearly cancer cases.

But…

Not all sunscreens are created (or made) equal.

Some are significantly better than others.

For the best protection, opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that shields you against UVA and UVB rays. It must also be water resistant and have an SPF of at least 30, preferably higher.

This will greatly reduce your risk of sunburn while running.

Put On Your Sunscreen the Right Way

Once you get your hands on a strong sunscreen, use it properly.

To get the lotion to bind with the skin, apply it for at least 20 to 30 minutes before heading out.

Cover all of your exposed skin to err on the side of caution.

Slather it on your face, ears, neck, shoulders, arms, legs, and anywhere else at the sun’s mercy.

Sunscreen is not bulletproof. It will wear off eventually, putting you at risk as the day passes. To avoid this, reapply your sunscreen, especially when planning to run for more than 60 to 90 minutes.

Skipping this step results in many runners complaining about sunburn despite using strong sunscreen when they first set out.

Run Early Or Late

I hate to sound like Captain Obvious, but the easiest way to prevent a sunburn is to avoid sun exposure, but it’s not always possible unless you only run at night.

But I’d generally avoid running between 10 a.m. and 4 p. m.

That’s when the sun is at peak intensity.

Even on the hottest summer days, early morning or late evening is drastically cooler, so get your run done then, and you’ll feel pretty damn good about it all day.

This also helps you avoid heat-related conditions.

If you must run outdoors when the sun is strongest, take cover in the shade as much as possible and slather on sunscreen, then hope for the best.

Protect Your Face

Whether running, walking, or hiking, your face gets a lot of sun exposure.

So what should you do?

Wear a hat or a visor to keep your face shaded to prevent more sunlight exposure to protect your face when running in the sun.

What’s more?

Visors are also great for protecting your eyes and face from sunshine, which cools you down and helps prevent squinting.

Wear The Right Clothing

Another helpful measure for limiting the risk of sunburn while exercising outdoors is to wear the right clothing.

Choose items that meet these three criteria:

(1) Tightly woven, as this prevents the penetration of ultraviolet rays through the fabric

(2) Darker in color, so less UV radiation reaches your skin

(3) Made from the right materials (usually nylon or a nylon-polyester blend)

Want more protection?

Look for clothing made with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (ULF) fabrics.

The higher the UPF rating, the less UV radiation reaches your skin.

Also, wear sun-protective sleeves for exposed arms and a visor or hat with a brim to protect your scalp and face.

Visors are especially helpful since they protect your face without trapping heat.

Consult A Dermatologist

Excessive exposure to sunlight means you’ve undoubtedly sustained some damage to your skin. And this is the case even if you do your best to protect your skin against sun exposure.

For this reason, it’s key to check with a dermatologist regularly—at least once per year—to monitor your skin health and measure any damage or issues before it becomes a real problem.

Running in the Sun – The Conclusion

Here you have it! You all need the above guidelines to protect your skin and prevent painful sunburns while running in the summer. And it’s not rocket science! All you have to do is take action.

Now it’s your turn.

Do you have any sun protection tips for us?

What’s your favorite sunscreen?

Cmon, talk to us.

In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.

Keep Running Strong

David D.