Mastering the Art of Running: Tips for Becoming a Better Runner

So, you’ve laced up those shoes and hit the pavement, or maybe you’ve been pounding the trails for years? Either way, I bet we share a dream: to be the best runners we can be.

Come on, admit it! We’re all chasing that thrill of breaking our own limits, aren’t we? Now, I won’t sugarcoat it: becoming a better runner isn’t a magic overnight transformation.

If you’re looking for a quick fix, this isn’t your sport. But oh, the sheer joy of those moments when you’re out there, just you and the open road, your heart racing, pushing past what you thought was possible!

It’s in those moments that we realize every drop of sweat was worth it. Ready to crank things up a notch? Let’s dive into some top tips to supercharge your running journey!

1. Increase Your Mileage

Let’s discuss a vital aspect of your running journey: gradually boosting your mileage. But before you start imagining ultra-marathon distances, let’s clarify one thing: more isn’t always better, especially when it comes to sudden leaps. Here’s where the trusty 10% rule steps in as your reliable compass. It’s like a guide, ensuring that you increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% compared to the previous week.

Imagine this: your ultimate goal is to reach 60 miles a week, but right now, you’re comfortably cruising at 20. No need to stress! This isn’t a sprint; it’s more like a marathon (pun intended). By taking it slow and steady, you’re not only building endurance but also caring for your body, steering clear of potential injuries and burnout.

But that’s not all! As you gradually conquer those extra miles, don’t forget about your feet – they’re the unsung heroes of your journey. Investing in a high-quality pair of running shoes is akin to choosing a dependable sidekick. Look for shoes that offer the ideal blend of cushioning and stability tailored to your unique stride. Pro tip: Swing by a local running store; many of them provide free gait analyses and can even create custom foot molds.

2. Track Your Mileage in a Training Log

Consider your running journey as an epic adventure, and your training log as the chronicle that records every twist and turn. To achieve those mileage milestones, mapping your route on a monthly calendar and setting weekly objectives is like sketching out a treasure map. It keeps you on course, aids in time management, and ensures you never miss a step (or a run).

Now, whether you’re tech-savvy or prefer the old-school approach, there’s a log for everyone. You can go digital with an online running log or stick to the traditional route with a physical running planner. Within this log, your aspirations, accomplishments, and everything in between find a home. Document your goals, monitor your miles, and track every factor contributing to your running tale, from nutrition to mood swings.

Here’s the true magic of a training log: it becomes your personal historian. For both newcomers and seasoned runners, it serves as a reflective tool. Flipping back through its pages reveals how you felt on specific days, the trusty shoes you relied on, or how weather conditions influenced your performance.

When something doesn’t quite add up – like when your legs feel unusually heavy during workouts – your log transforms into a detective’s notebook. It helps you identify patterns, assess whether you’re pushing too hard too soon, or determine if the timing of your runs is affecting your performance.

3. Join a Club or Team

Solo running definitely has its appeal. It’s your personal “me time,” allowing you to set your own pace, dive into your thoughts, and sync up with your body’s rhythm. However, hitting the pavement alone every day may start to lose its shine.

That’s where the world of running clubs and teams steps in! These aren’t just gatherings of people going for a run; they’re vibrant communities, your personal cheering squad on gloomy, drizzly days, or when your cozy bed is calling your name. Running with a club or team injects motivation into your routine, pushes you that extra distance, and, let’s not forget, it’s a whole lot of fun!

Curious about where to uncover these fantastic groups? The USATF, a leading authority on all things running, maintains a directory of local clubs and teams that’s just a click away.

In this digital era, there’s an app for nearly everything, and that includes discovering your running buddies. These apps can connect you with fellow runners who match your pace, your objectives, and perhaps even your taste in running tunes. Building new connections through these apps can propel your running journey to heights you never envisioned!

You don’t know how to find the right running partner? Check my guide here.

4. Don’t Neglect the Little Things

Becoming a top-notch runner isn’t solely about the number of miles you log. It’s about mastering what I like to call the “Art of the Little Things.” These aren’t minor details; they serve as the bedrock of your running expedition.

Unveiling the “Little Things”:

  1. Quality Sleep – The Ultimate Performance Boost: Proper rest is akin to hitting a reset button for your body. It’s when your muscles mend, hormones find equilibrium, and your mind rejuvenates. Skimping on sleep? You’re cheating yourself out of your potential.
  2. Nutrition – Your Running Fuel: Eating isn’t merely about filling up; it’s about powering up. Your body acts like a high-performance engine; feed it the right fuel, and watch it thrive. From carbohydrates for energy to protein for muscle recovery, every meal matters.
  3. Injury Prevention – Listen and Respond: Those minor discomforts? They’re your body’s way of whispering before it shouts. Tackle problems like plantar fasciitis early on. Prevention is always preferable to a cure.
  4. Stretch and Roll – Your Muscles’ Allies: After a run, give your muscles the care they deserve. Foam rolling and stretching aren’t just cool-down routines; they’re investments in your body’s future performance.
  5. Hydration – The Runner’s Lifeline: Water acts as the elixir that keeps your body’s machinery running smoothly. Staying hydrated isn’t solely during your run; it’s a continuous commitment.

Beat the Heat: 18 Strategies for Safe Summer Running

Summer is awesome for outdoor fun, right? I’m with you – there’s something special about going for a run when it’s sunny and the weather’s great. But hold onto your sneakers, because summer running isn’t all easy. Those hot temperatures can make it tough on your runs and your health.

But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. By the time you finish reading this blog post, you’ll have the know-how you need to handle those summer running challenges like a pro.

Sounds like a great deal?

Let’s get started.

1. Make the Right Adjustments

Running in the summer can be a bit tricky. The heat and humidity can make it feel like you’re running in slow motion, even if you’re putting in the same effort you did during winter. And guess what? Science backs this up! Research says that when the temperature rises just 5 degrees above 60, your pace can slow down by a whopping 30 seconds per mile. That’s a big difference!

So, here’s the deal: when you start your summer runs, go a bit slower than you usually do. Think of it like easing into a hot bath – you don’t jump right in, do you? And if you’re feeling like a superhero halfway through your run, it’s okay to speed up a bit. Just don’t push too hard and overdo it.

Here’s a great tip: focus on how hard you’re working, not how fast you’re going. It’s more about how tough it feels rather than trying to beat the clock.

2.Acclimatize Properly

Your body is pretty amazing, but it needs some time to adjust when it’s hot outside.

Here’s how it works: when you’re out in the blazing sun, your body goes into action to keep you cool. It does things like lowering your heart rate, keeping your core body temperature down, and making you sweat more. All of this helps you keep running even in the heat.

But here’s the catch: you can’t rush this process. You need to give your body a couple of weeks to get used to the summer weather. Start with easy runs and slowly make them longer and more intense. Trust me, those first runs might feel really tough, but it gets better.

While you’re getting used to the heat, don’t push too hard. Keep your runs easy, and don’t try to run a lot farther all at once. It’s totally fine to run at a slower, more comfortable pace or even take short breaks to catch your breath. Think of it as your body’s way of saying, “Hey, I’m adapting here!”

 

3. Check The Heat Index

Before you head out for a run, make sure to take a look at the National Weather Service’s Heat Index Guide.

This nifty guide combines the actual temperature with how humid it feels, giving you the real “feels-like” temperature – the one that really matters when you’re out there on the road.

Now, here’s the cool part (pun intended): if that temperature is hovering around 70 degrees and the humidity feels like a sauna, it’s time to ease up on your pace. We’re talking about slowing down by at least a minute per mile. Your body will thank you for it, I promise.

But here’s the bottom line – if that temperature climbs above 96 degrees and the humidity is at a steamy 75 percent or more, it’s time to rethink your battle with the summer heat.

Indoor workouts become your best buddy. Hop on that treadmill, try some strength training, or find your inner zen with yoga. The choice is yours – just make sure you stay cool and safe out there!

4. Check Air Quality

Living in a big city or an area with air pollution? Then keep an eye on the Air Quality Index (AQI) in your area.

Here’s the deal: if that AQI code starts to get close to orange, and you have respiratory problems or are sensitive to air pollution, it’s time to think about easing up, especially on those hot and hazy days. Your lungs will thank you.

Now, if you’re still determined to run when the AQI is in the orange or, heaven forbid, red zone, take all the precautions you can. Think about wearing masks, limiting your exposure, and maybe even teaming up with a running buddy to keep an eye on each other. Safety first!

5. The Right Clothing

Go for lightweight, loose-fitting clothes that are your best buddies when it comes to staying cool in the heat. These fabrics work like magic – they whisk away sweat from your skin and let it evaporate quickly. It’s like a little disappearing act!

Now, here’s the color code: go for lighter shades! Light-colored outfits are your superheroes; they reflect the sun’s rays like pros. Dark colors, on the other hand, are like a cozy fireplace in the summer – they’ll make you feel hot in no time.

And here’s a bonus: these fabrics aren’t just comfy; they also help protect you from sunburn. So, say hello to your best buddies: Coloma, Dry-Fit, Lycra, and Nylon – they’ve got you covered in the summer heat!

Now, let’s talk about the key running gear you need for a safe and comfortable summer workout:

  • Running Shorts: Opt for longer, loose-fitting styles. They shield you from the sun and let in a cool breeze. Your legs will thank you for the extra protection, and the ventilation is a game-changer.
  • Running Shirt: Your shirt should be your running best friend and a multitasker. Look for one that wicks away sweat, has reflective details for dawn or dusk runs, and maybe even a zip pocket for your essentials. This superhero shirt helps control your body temperature and says goodbye to chafing and blisters.
  • Running Socks: Your feet deserve some pampering, and that’s where wool blends come in. Find socks with at least 60 percent merino wool, a touch of Spandex for stretch, and a bit of Nylon for durability. These socks work like little foot air conditioners, keeping you cool and comfy on your summer runs.

6. Sunglasses And a Hat

Protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays. Choose lightweight running sunglasses for a secure fit that won’t bounce or slip during your run.

When it comes to headgear, opt for a hat made of technical fabrics that wick away sweat. It should fit snugly but comfortably, and stay in place while you’re active. If you’re deciding between a hat and a visor, go for the visor. Visors tend to be cooler as they allow better ventilation and look for one with a sweatband to keep sweat away from your eyes.

7. Fight the Chafe

Let’s tackle chafing, that annoying issue runners often face, especially in hot weather!

Here’s how to prevent chafing:

  1. Friction Fighter: Chafing occurs when sweat causes friction between your skin or clothing. To combat this, use lubricants like Body Glide or petroleum jelly on potential hotspots, such as inner thighs, underarms, and yes, the sensitive nipple area.
  2. Nipple Shields: Have you heard of these handy lifesavers? Nipple shields come in two types – one is like a band-aid, and the other is made of silicone. They’re your secret weapon against nipple chafing, ensuring a pain-free and chafe-free run.

8. Protect Your Skin

Let’s talk about protecting your skin because, let’s be real, the sun can be harsh on your skin!

Did you know that runners have a higher risk of skin damage, including skin cancer, compared to other athletes? Here’s the deal:

  • Runner’s Risk: Runners spend more time in the sun, often in minimal clothing to stay cool. While that’s great for comfort, it also means more exposure to the sun’s harmful effects.

So, how do you shield yourself from those UV rays?

  • Sunscreen is your best friend! Choose a waterproof sunscreen with at least SPF 40 and broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply it at least 15 minutes before your run.

And here’s a tip: Reapply it during long, sweaty runs. You don’t want to sweat away your protection against the sun’s rays!

9. Run Early (or Late)

Did you know that runners are more susceptible to skin damage, including skin cancer, compared to other athletes? Here’s what you need to know:

·       Runner’s Risk: Runners spend more time outdoors, often in minimal clothing to stay cool during their runs. While this is comfortable, it exposes their skin to the harmful effects of the sun.

So, how can you protect yourself from UV rays?

·       Sunscreen is your reliable ally! Choose a waterproof sunscreen with at least SPF 40 and ensure it offers broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, which are the main culprits of UV radiation. Apply it at least 15 minutes before you start your run.

Here’s a helpful tip: Remember to reapply sunscreen during long, sweaty runs. You wouldn’t want to lose your defense against the sun’s harsh effects due to perspiration!

10. Pick The Right Route

When the sun is scorching overhead, it’s wise to change up your running routine. Trust me, running on hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete isn’t a great idea. These surfaces absorb heat and radiate it back at you, causing you to overheat and tire out quickly.

Why not mix things up a bit? Consider swapping those tough surfaces for more forgiving ones like grass or, even better, explore some trails and gravel paths. You’ll appreciate the difference later on. And don’t forget about your local park – it’s like a little oasis waiting for you.

Now, if you’re in the city surrounded by skyscrapers, get creative with your route. Weave between those tall buildings; they act like giant sunshades, providing some welcome shade. And remember, parks aren’t just for picnics – running beneath a canopy of trees can make a significant difference.

Feeling adventurous? Consider heading towards bodies of water like rivers, lakes, or even the ocean. Being near water tends to make everything feel cooler and breezier, especially on those scorching summer days.

Speaking of safety, always let someone know where you’re going. Carry identification, your phone, some cash, and emergency contacts with you. As the saying goes, “Better safe than sorry.” Being prepared is key!

11. Hydrate All Day

Staying properly hydrated is absolutely crucial during summer runs. When you’re out there, your body works extra hard to keep cool, leading to significant sweating. But it’s not just water you lose – you’re also saying goodbye to essential minerals like iron and magnesium. This isn’t a minor issue; it can seriously affect your performance and overall health.

So, what’s the solution? Hydration, hydration, hydration!

Think of water as your personal defense against the less pleasant effects of summer heat, like stomach cramps, dizziness, or those nagging headaches.

Here’s the plan: Load up on water before, during, and after your runs. Aim to drink at least 8 to 12 ounces of water about 30 minutes before you start your run. This primes your sweat system and gets it ready for action.

If you’re heading out for a long run, especially one lasting more than 60 minutes, don’t go without a trusty water belt or pouch. Not a fan of carrying water? No worries! Plan your route strategically, marking places with water fountains, gas stations, or city parks where you can grab a quick drink.

While you’re running, keep sipping! Aim for another 8 to 12 ounces every 20 minutes. Of course, everyone’s needs are different, so pay attention to your body and adjust your hydration as necessary.

12. Pre-Run Splash

Pre-cooling might sound like a game changer for your summer runs. Think of it as giving yourself a refreshing kick-start before you hit the road. By slightly lowering your core body temperature before your run, you’re basically preparing your body for a smoother, cooler journey. It’s like delaying the onset of sweating, allowing you to run further before feeling the heat.

But don’t just take my word for it; there’s solid science supporting this cool strategy. A German study revealed that a pre-workout shower can actually enhance your athletic performance in hot conditions by cooling down your core temperature and heart rate. Plus, a study published in Sports Medicine found that pre-cooling can not only help regulate your body temperature during training but also boost your performance.

Ready to give pre-cooling a shot? Here are some cool tactics to try before your summer runs:

  • Hydrate with cold drinks at least two hours before you lace up. Think of it as an internal air conditioner for your body.
  • Experiment with cooling garments. Yes, there are clothes designed to lower your body temperature. Pretty cool, right?
  • Take a cold shower before heading out. Get your hair wet and let it drip – it’s like having your personal little rain cloud to keep you cool.
  • Relax in an air-conditioned room or sit in front of a fan for a bit before your run. It’s all about starting off on a cool note.

13. Proper Warm-Up

The warm-up routine deserves some serious attention, especially when it comes to summer running.

Starting your runs at a slower pace than your usual speed is a wise move. It’s akin to preventing your body’s internal engine from revving up too quickly and overheating right from the start. This approach can be a real game-changer, helping you avoid early fatigue, bothersome muscle cramps, and even injuries.

Here’s the bottom line: the slower and gentler your start, the longer it takes for your core body temperature to reach that “this is tough” point. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, right?

And while you’re at it, consider adding some dynamic moves to your warm-up. Think of a lunge series or even some ballistic stretching to wake up those running muscles. It’s like giving your body an enthusiastic pep talk, getting everything ready from your toes to your head.

14. Take A Cold Shower

Taking a cold shower after a sweaty summer run is like hitting the refresh button for your body. It’s the perfect way to cool down after pushing your limits.

However, diving straight into icy water might not be everyone’s preference. If the idea of a chilly shower sends shivers down your spine, don’t worry; there’s a way to ease into it.

Start with water that’s just slightly cooler than your usual comfort zone. Think of it as dipping your toes into a pool instead of making a cannonball plunge. Allow your body some time to adapt to the change in temperature. As you become more comfortable, gradually decrease the water temperature until you find that sweet spot – cool but not teeth-chatteringly cold.

Here’s the thing: shocking your system with super cold water might make your body work extra hard to warm itself up, which isn’t exactly the relaxing cooldown you were aiming for.

Interestingly, lukewarm water can be surprisingly effective. It’s gentle, soothing, and still does a great job at lowering your core body temperature without any dramatic reactions.

15. Ice Your Pulse Points

Pulse points are like your body’s natural cooling stations. When you apply ice packs or run cold water over areas like the back of your neck, wrists, chest, abdomen, or even your feet, it’s not just about immediate relief – it’s a strategic move! These points are like highways for your blood, with a large volume flowing close to the surface.

So, what happens when you cool them down? It’s like sending a chill signal through your bloodstream, efficiently reducing your core temperature. It’s simple, clever, and incredibly effective.

But remember, safety comes first! Direct contact with ice can be more harmful than helpful, potentially causing ice burns, which are no fun at all. Always use a barrier like a gel ice pack or wrap the ice in a towel. This way, you get all the cooling benefits without risking damage to your skin.

16. Listen to Your Body

While all the summer running tips and tricks are great for staying cool, the most crucial piece of advice is this: listen to your body. our body has its unique ways of letting you know when something’s not right, especially in the scorching sun.

Here are some warning signs to watch out for:

  • An intense headache is like a flashing neon sign that something’s amiss.
  • Feeling disoriented or confused is a big red flag.
  • Muscle cramps can signal dehydration or heat stress.
  • Excessive sweating, while normal, can indicate overheating.
  • A dry throat may be a sign that you need to hydrate immediately.
  • Unusually pale skin could indicate heat stress.
  • Confusion or foggy thinking means it’s time to slow down or stop.
  • An elevated heart rate that’s unusual should be taken as a warning.
  • Nausea or feeling queasy is a sign to take a break.
  • Extreme fatigue is a symptom of potential heat exhaustion.
  • Experiencing chills in the heat is not a good sign.

Ignoring these symptoms can lead to serious problems, possibly requiring medical attention. That’s not the outcome you want from a good run, so always prioritize your well-being.

17. Treat Heat-Induced Issues Right

Dealing with heat-related issues during a run is crucial, so knowing when to pause is essential. If you ever feel like you’re approaching a danger zone, here’s what to do:

  1. Stop Running: No more pushing through; stop immediately.
  2. Seek Shade: Find a cool, shaded spot to escape the intense sun.
  3. Rehydrate: Water is your best bet here, though sports drinks are also okay. But remember, water is your primary source of hydration.

Heat-induced conditions like heat strokes or heat exhaustion can escalate quickly from uncomfortable to dangerous. Once you’re in a safe spot:

  • Drink plenty of water to rehydrate.
  • Take a cold shower or a sponge bath to lower your body temperature.
  • If possible, get into an air-conditioned room, as it can make a significant difference.

Alternatively, try spraying yourself with cool water and wrapping your body in cool, damp sheets.

But here’s the thing: if you don’t start feeling better within an hour, it’s time to seek medical help. Some symptoms of overheating can be life-threatening and require professional attention.

Conclusion

There you have it!

The above guidelines are my go-to tips for surviving hot summer runs.

While most of these are simple,

Now it’s your turn.

What are your go-to measures during summer training?

Comment, tips, and tricks are really welcome!

Do you have any summer running tips to add?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Stay Active on the Go: 6 Simple Ways to Incorporate Fitness into Your Daily Life

Are you tired of hearing that exercise is good for you? I mean, we all know that, right? But here’s the thing: life gets busy. Between the 9-to-5 grind, endless to-do lists, and family commitments, finding time for exercise can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

But guess what? You don’t need a perfect world to stay active and healthy. In fact, you don’t even need a gym membership or hours of free time. What you do need are some clever tricks up your sleeve to sneak in exercise whenever and wherever you can.

So, let’s ditch the excuses and discover 6 easy ways to inject some fitness into your daily routine. Whether you’re at home, on your way to work, or stuck in the office, these hacks will help you stay active without breaking a sweat (well, maybe just a little).

Let’s get started!

1. Turn Your Commute into a Workout

Transforming your daily commute into an exercise session is a creative way to stay active. Instead of the usual car ride, consider more active alternatives.

One option is a “run-commute.” Pack your essentials like keys, phone, ID, and some cash into a running backpack or a fanny pack, and jog to your destination. Running is not only great cardio but also an efficient mode of transportation.

If running isn’t your thing, cycling is another excellent alternative. It’s a low-impact activity that still provides a good workout and gets you where you need to go.

For those who find running or cycling impractical, walking is a simple yet effective option. If your workplace is too far to walk, you can still add extra steps to your day by getting off public transport earlier or parking your car farther from the office.

2. Sneak in a Lunch Break Workout

Are you ready to transform your lunch hour from ordinary to extraordinary? Picture this: it’s the middle of your workday, the clock strikes noon, and instead of the usual lunchtime lull, you’re gearing up to supercharge your body and mind!

Welcome to the world of lunchtime workouts, where every bite of your sandwich comes with a side of endorphins. Whether it’s embracing the fresh air with a brisk walk, channeling your inner Usain Bolt with a quick sprint, or sneaking in a power-packed 20 to 30-minute gym session, the possibilities are endless. And the best part? Research says that a midday workout is not just a fitness booster; it’s also your secret weapon for an afternoon productivity surge.

Mark your calendar – this is a date with your healthier self! Treat it like the main event of your day.

And why fly solo? Grab a work buddy and make it a dynamic duo sweat session. Not only is it more fun, but it also keeps you both on track.

Need some quick and effective workout ideas? How about a jump rope challenge with ten rounds of heart-pumping action? Or maybe a set of jumping jacks to get your blood flowing? For the brave-hearted, try dominating those air squats or shadow boxing your way to fitness fame. All you need is 5 to 15 minutes, and you’re set.

3. Take the Stairs

Are you ready to transform your daily routine into an undercover workout session? Next time you’re about to press that elevator button or step onto an escalator, pause and consider the mighty staircase. Yes, those stairs you’ve been ignoring could be your new fitness ally!

Stair climbing is not just a way to get from one floor to another; it’s a heart-pumping, calorie-burning powerhouse. For every minute you ascend those stairs, you could be burning up to 10 calories – if you weigh around 160 pounds. Now, compare that to the mere 1.5 calories you’d burn lazily riding the elevator.

I used to always take the elevator until one day, it was out of service, and I was forced to take the stairs. I was surprised by how challenging it was but also how accomplished I felt afterward. Since then, I’ve made it a habit to take the stairs whenever possible. On days I’m feeling extra energetic, I challenge myself to take two steps at a time. It’s a small change, but it’s made a noticeable difference in my fitness level

But let’s be realistic – if your destination is way up on the 39th floor, climbing all those stairs might seem like a mission to Mount Everest. No stress! Find a happy medium: take the elevator partway and then challenge yourself to conquer the remaining flights.

And for those feeling extra bold, why not amp up the challenge? Take two steps at a time, or add a brisk pace. This way, you’re not just climbing – you’re unleashing your inner fitness superhero, one step at a time.

4. Try this 15-minute Interval Routine

Ready to supercharge your fitness routine without eating up your entire day? Let me introduce you to the 15-minute Interval Routine – your new best friend for efficient and effective workouts.

Interval training is the ultimate time-saver, packing a punch in a short amount of time. Imagine getting a full-body workout in just 15 minutes – it’s possible, and I’m here to show you how.

Here’s your game plan:

  1. Warm-Up (5 minutes): Kick off with a light jog in place. Spice it up with dynamic stretches to wake up those muscles. This isn’t just a preamble; it’s essential for a killer workout.
  2. The Interval Magic (10 minutes): Now, brace yourself for 20-second bursts of high-intensity exercises followed by a 10-second rest. This cycle of exertion and recovery is where the magic happens.

Your High-Energy Workout Menu:

  • Military Push-Ups: Dive into these for strength and endurance.
  • Squat Jumps: Get those legs working with explosive energy.
  • Mountain Climbers: Ramp up your heart rate and engage that core.
  • Burpees: The all-in-one powerhouse move.
  • Weighted Sit-Ups: Add some extra oomph to your core workout.

All you need is a little space, your body weight, and a mat. This 15-minute blitz is designed to make you sweat and feel empowered.

5. Drop the Office Chair

Transform your office routine into a fitness opportunity with a simple switch: replace your regular desk chair with a stability ball! This change isn’t just about shaking things up in the office; it’s a stealthy way to strengthen your core, improve your posture, and subtly burn calories while you work.

Sitting on a stability ball engages your core and lower back muscles, turning your regular desk time into a low-key workout. And it’s not just about getting fit; it’s beneficial for your back health, too. According to a study in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, people with lower back pain reported fewer symptoms after regularly using a stability ball.

The best part? It won’t even feel like exercise. You’re simply sitting, but now with the added bonus of improving your strength and posture. Plus, it’s a fun conversation starter with your colleagues!

After experiencing some back pain, I decided to swap my office chair for a stability ball. At first, it felt odd, but I quickly noticed a difference in my posture and core strength. Colleagues started asking about it, and before I knew it, stability balls became a trend in our office! It’s a small change that’s made a big difference in my daily routine

Feeling bold? Amp up your office fitness game with a stand-up desk. This addition allows you to seamlessly transition between sitting and standing, adding more movement and flexibility to your workday.

6. Go Isometric

Isometric training is your secret weapon for a stealthy, strength-boosting workout that fits perfectly into a busy schedule. This form of exercise involves flexing and holding your muscles without any dynamic movements, making it incredibly convenient and discreet.

The great thing about isometric exercises is their simplicity – no equipment needed, just your body weight and, optionally, a timer.

The real charm of isometric training lies in its incognito nature. You can effortlessly incorporate it into various parts of your day without drawing attention. Whether you’re catching up on your favorite TV show, engrossed in a book, or even replying to emails, you can be strengthening your muscles simultaneously. Talk about a multitasking marvel!

You have plenty of exercise choices, such as wall squats, planks, iso lunges, chair poses, and iso calf raises. This variety keeps your routine fresh and engaging.

Try starting with each pose for 20 to 30 seconds, then transition smoothly to the next exercise. With isometric training, you’re quietly yet effectively building strength and enhancing your fitness, and the best part? You won’t even disrupt your daily routine or those around you.

Busy Life, Fit Body: Finding Time for Exercise in a Hectic World

“Wow, I wish I could run like you, but who’s got the time, right?” Sound familiar?

Every time I rave about my latest run, someone tosses this comment my way, almost implying, “So, you’re saying you’ve got oodles of free time to just… run?”

Okay, maybe I’m reading between the lines a tad too much.

But here’s the deal: we all get it—exercise is crucial. Yet, amidst the chaos of work, family, and that ever-growing to-do list, lacing up those sneakers often takes a backseat.

But hang on a sec! If you’ve ever thought, “I wish I could make exercise a no-brainer in my daily routine,” you’re in for a treat.

In today’s article, I’ll be sharing with you my favorite ways to turn fitness from a “should do” into a “can’t wait to do.”

Sounds like a good idea?

Let’s dive in.

Find Your Why

Understanding your personal reasons for exercising can greatly enhance your motivation. Whether you have kids and want to set a healthy example for them or you’re just aiming to lead a more active life, finding your “why” is crucial. Regular physical activity is vital not only for fitness but also as a defense against various health issues like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and even cancer.

Your first task is to clearly define your reasons for wanting to stay active. Write them down and place them where you’ll see them every day – as your phone’s wallpaper, on your fridge, or even on your mirror. A daily reminder of your “why” can be a powerful motivator.

Set The Right Goals

Once you have your motivation in place, it’s time to set realistic goals. If you’re new to exercising, it’s important not to overdo it right from the start. Instead of aiming for extreme goals like running a marathon immediately, start with smaller, more achievable targets.

Begin with a manageable daily workout of about 20-30 minutes. This gradual approach helps you build your fitness level without the risk of burnout or injury. Remember, it’s about pacing yourself and celebrating each small victory along the way.

Block Time

To prioritize exercise effectively, treat your workout sessions as key events in your schedule, similar to important meetings or regular social activities. Consistently allocating specific times for exercise helps integrate it into your routine.

Here’s how to make exercise a priority:

  • Aim to exercise three to four times a week, choosing the time that works best for you – it could be a morning jog, a lunchtime session, or an evening routine.
  • Visualize the positive outcomes of this habit, like feeling fitter and stronger.
  • When planning your week, mark your workout times as important commitments. Treat them with the same respect as essential appointments, and be prepared to decline conflicting offers.

Do it Early

If fitting exercise into a busy schedule is challenging, try working out early in the morning.

Early morning workouts can be peaceful and invigorating, providing a sense of accomplishment before the day’s busyness begins.

Research indicates that people who exercise in the morning are often more consistent with their fitness routines.

Starting your day with exercise sets a positive tone, and you don’t have to be naturally inclined toward mornings to benefit from this strategy. It’s about taking control of your day from the outset.

Put Money On the Line

If you’re struggling to maintain motivation for working out, consider using a financial incentive. By tying your fitness goals to monetary rewards, you create an additional layer of motivation.

Here’s how it works:

  • Set a fitness goal and commit to depositing a certain amount of money each time you complete a workout. Essentially, you’re rewarding yourself financially for staying active.
  • Once you reach your fitness target, use the accumulated funds for a special treat or donate it to a cause you care about. This approach not only benefits your health but can also contribute positively to others.
  • Having a financial stake in your fitness journey can provide the extra push needed on days when motivation is low.

Conclusion

There you have it. The above tips are all you need to make exercise a habit in your daily life. You just need to show up and follow the simple instructions.

From Couch to Consistency: Easy Steps to Maintain Your Exercise Habit

Working out is key to feeling energized, managing stress, and maintaining good health. But let’s be honest, sometimes the comfort of the couch wins over the gym. It’s easy to find excuses to skip a workout, and they can be quite creative!

Sounds familiar? Then know you’re not alone. Many people struggle to find the motivation to exercise consistently.

This article is here to help you replace those excuses with a genuine enthusiasm for fitness.

Through my interactions with friends and readers, I’ve heard numerous stories about struggles to maintain a regular workout routine. The good news is that I’m going to share some simple strategies that have helped me and many others. These tips aren’t complicated, but they can be incredibly effective in helping you achieve your fitness goals.

Let’s get started!

Create A Ritual

Consistency is key when it comes to establishing an exercise routine. The goal is to make your workout as habitual and automatic as your daily morning rituals, like brushing your teeth or skincare routines.

The concept here is to turn exercise into a ritual, removing the internal debate of whether to exercise or not, especially early in the morning when motivation can be low.

For instance, imagine setting a goal to run three times a week in the morning.

To make this a ritual, you could create a routine around it: wake up, freshen up, make your favorite morning beverage (coffee or tea), get dressed in your running gear, and start your run. This structured approach can transform exercise from a task into a regular part of your day.

runner using workout journal

Do it Early

The adage “The early bird catches the worm” can apply to exercise routines as well. Research indicates that people who work out in the morning are often more consistent with their fitness regime.

One study from the University of North Texas suggests that exercising early in the day may lead to quicker improvements in fitness compared to exercising later. The reason? In the morning, your energy and willpower are at their peak, and there are fewer distractions and less chaos from the day’s activities.

Morning exercise sets a positive tone for the day, whether it’s running or hitting the gym.

To make this easier:

  1. Alarm Strategy: Place your alarm, possibly set to an energetic song, across the room. This forces you to get out of bed to turn it off, helping you wake up.
  2. Prepare the Night Before: Lay out your workout clothes and gear before going to bed. This simplifies your morning routine and reduces the effort needed to get started.

Schedule Your Sessions

The difference in consistency often boils down to one simple practice: scheduling. This approach turns exercise into a non-negotiable part of your routine, much like any other important appointment.

Life can be unpredictable, and without a set plan, gym time can easily be overlooked in favor of other activities like watching TV. The solution is to treat workouts as fixed appointments in your calendar, giving them the same priority as work meetings or family events.

This habit of scheduling workouts isn’t just a personal recommendation; it’s backed by research. A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that individuals who scheduled their exercise sessions (even just mentally) were more likely to follow through with them.

Be Accountable

Making your workout routine enjoyable is like committing to a coffee date with a friend – it’s an appointment you wouldn’t want to skip because you value that relationship. Similarly, valuing your relationship with your body and health is crucial.

By scheduling your exercise sessions and viewing them as commitments rather than optional choices, you create a sense of accountability. It might be tempting to hit snooze or watch another episode of your favorite show, but having your workout noted in your calendar serves as a gentle reminder of your commitment to fitness.

It’s important to remember that it’s not about finding time for exercise; it’s about making time for it. When you start to include your fitness goals in your daily schedule, alongside other important events like birthdays or meetings, they become an integral part of your day that you’re less likely to overlook. This approach helps in making exercise a regular and enjoyable part of your lifestyle.

Reward Yourself

Rewarding yourself is an effective way to stay motivated in your fitness journey. Associating positive rewards with exercise can make the whole process more enjoyable and something to look forward to.

This approach works because it taps into the brain’s reward system, particularly dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. When you reward yourself after exercising, you create a positive association in your mind, making exercise feel not just beneficial for your body but also immediately gratifying.

To get started, here are some ideas for post-exercise rewards:

  • Enjoy a healthy, fruity dessert.
  • Spend time reading the next chapter of an engaging book.
  • Browse your favorite websites or online shops.
  • Take a refreshing power nap.
  • Treat yourself to a nice meal at a favorite restaurant.
  • Watch an episode of a popular TV show.
  • Book a relaxing massage session.
  • Relax with a glass of your favorite wine.
  • Unwind in a soothing bubble bath.
  • Start a ‘sweat fund’ by putting aside a small amount of money for each completed workout.
  • Buy a new book or another small reward that you’ve been wanting.

Focus on the Habit First & the Results Later

In a world where quick results are often prioritized, it’s important to focus more on the process and the habit rather than just the end results. The tendency to seek immediate outcomes, like rapid weight loss or improved marathon times, can lead to frustration or burnout if these goals aren’t achieved as quickly as expected.

A more effective approach is to embrace the journey and focus on establishing consistent habits. For instance, instead of fixating solely on losing a certain amount of weight, concentrate on the actions that will get you there, like committing to regular jogging sessions.

Habits form the foundation of our goals. They are the daily actions and routines that propel us towards our objectives. By shifting the focus from the outcome (“I want to shed 20 pounds”) to the process (“I’m committed to jogging four times a week”), you cultivate resilience and a sense of accomplishment in your daily efforts.

Conclusion

The key to building an exercise habit is to make it as easy as possible to do your workout. Go for exercises that you like, keep your workouts comfortable and simple,  and focus on showing up every day—even if you do not see any progress.

How To Get Runner’s High Everytime

Have you ever experienced the mythical runner’s high? That magical moment when your regular jog transforms into an absolutely euphoric experience. Guess what? Today, we’re going to explore how you can achieve this blissful state every time you hit the road.

Imagine this: you’re running, your heart racing, muscles straining, and then suddenly, BAM! You’re hit with a wave of endorphins and endocannabinoids. It’s like your brain is throwing a party, celebrating your effort with a mix of feel-good vibes.

Now, the big question is, can you make this runner’s high a regular companion on your runs? Get ready because I’m about to reveal how you can turn every run into a consistently delightful experience. We’ll delve into fine-tuning your running routine, embracing mindfulness, and even optimizing your diet.

Push the Pace, but Find Your Sweet Spot

Pushing the pace in your runs is key, but it’s crucial to find that sweet spot that’s just right for you. Researchers have let slip that rhythmic exercise of a decent duration is your golden ticket to achieving that runner’s high. However, we’re not talking about an all-out sprint here. Picture this: a cardio session where you maintain a steady pace, feeling like you’re at about a 6 or 7 on the “Can I keep this up?” scale.

Here’s a little secret for you: aim to run at 80% of your maximum heart rate, keep it up for a good 30 to 45 minutes, and you’re well on your way to that much-coveted runner’s high. A top tip for you: find a balance in your intensity. It should be hard enough that you’re breathing heavily, but you should still be able to chat with a friend while running.

Ready to feel the burn? If your usual pace is a leisurely 10-minute mile, try upping it to a 9:30 or even 9-minute mile. You should be breathing deeply, but not struggling for air. It’s all about hitting that sweet spot where you’re challenging yourself just enough.

Run Long

When it comes to duration, in my experience, this magical state often kicks in after about 30 to 45 minutes of consistent running. This can vary depending on your fitness level and running history. The more experienced you are, the longer and harder you might need to push yourself to reach that runner’s high. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone and stressing your body in a good way, triggering the release of those delightful feel-good chemicals.

Picture yourself running those miles, maintaining a consistent level of effort, and then suddenly, it happens. You’re hit by a wave of euphoria, transforming your run into an almost otherworldly experience. Sounds tempting, right?

A beginner? Achieving the runner’s high might seem like a distant dream. But don’t give up just yet. Consistency is your ally here. Stick with your running routine, and before you know it, you’ll be experiencing that sought-after runner’s high too.

Pair Up

Running with a buddy isn’t just beneficial, it’s a game-changer. Imagine having someone there for motivation, accountability, and a bit of friendly competition to add some zest to your runs. It’s like adding a turbo boost that you didn’t even know your run needed.

The key is to find a running partner who’s both a cheerleader and a challenger. You motivate each other, creating a mutually beneficial dynamic. The camaraderie and support of a running companion can be a huge boost to your fitness journey, like having your own personal cheer squad on the move.

For those who love a bit of adventure, consider joining a running group. It’s more than just a collection of runners; it’s like an extended family with diverse backgrounds and stories. Running with a group can make the journey feel more communal and enjoyable, making the miles seem to fly by.

Crank Up the Tunes

It’s amazing how a good playlist can lift your mood and enhance your performance while you’re logging miles. Music does more than just drown out the sound of your heavy breathing; it can actually boost your performance and help you push through fatigue.

McGill University in Canada conducted a study examining the connection between music and the runner’s high. They found that when participants experienced peak emotional arousal from their favorite tunes, their brains were flooded with dopamine, the chemical responsible for feelings of happiness.

Moreover, a study supported by the National Institute of Health revealed that music is not just a mood enhancer; it’s a performance booster. This study, published in the International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology, and Pharmacology, showed that music can increase your power, strength, and endurance during workouts. It’s like having a personal trainer embedded in your playlist.

Find Your Sweet Spot

Finding your sweet spot is crucial for achieving the runner’s high. The goal is to push your limits without overdoing it. Remember, we’re after those endorphins, the star players of the feel-good chemical party that kicks off in your body when you’re under a bit of physical stress.

The trick is to challenge yourself, but not to the point of exhaustion. Think of it as discovering your rhythm, your ideal pace – that magical spot where you’re pushing your limits while still in control. Imagine it as a dance on the edge of exhilaration, where each step brings you closer to the euphoric runner’s high.

It’s about finding that middle ground where you’re running faster than a leisurely jog, but not sprinting at full speed. Your breathing should be heavier, your heart excitedly active, and each step a testament to your inner strength.

Set Meaningful Goals

We all know that having a purpose can kick your motivation into high gear, and when it comes to achieving that elusive runner’s high, it’s no exception.

Picture this: you’re not just hitting the pavement for the sake of it; you’ve got a goal, a target that gives your runs a whole new meaning. It could be conquering a specific distance, smashing a personal record, or lacing up for a charitable cause close to your heart. Having a clear goal in your sights can take your running game from “meh” to “heck yes!”

Let me paint you a real-life picture: Imagine training for a charity run, not just for your own glory but to make a difference in the lives of others. Every step you take isn’t just about improving your own fitness; it’s a stride toward positive change. Now, that’s a goal that adds purpose and fulfillment to your running journey, cranking up the likelihood of that sweet runner’s high.

Embrace the Journey

Achieving a runner’s high isn’t always an instant result. It’s not always a sprint; sometimes, it’s more of a marathon of self-discovery and sheer perseverance. So, don’t let disappointment creep in if that euphoric state doesn’t hit you every time you lace up those running shoes.

Here’s the deal – celebrate every step forward, big or small. Progress takes time, like a fine wine getting better with age. Enjoy the process, relish in the fact that you’re out there, moving your body, and soaking in the freedom that running brings.

Think of it like this: chasing the runner’s high is like chasing a butterfly. Sometimes it flutters away, and other times it graces you with its presence. But in the meantime, don’t let the pursuit overshadow the pure joy of being on the road, feeling the wind in your hair, and reveling in the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other.

Cultivate a Positive Mindset

Your mindset plays a crucial role in unlocking the runner’s high. Approach it with a positive attitude, my friends, and truly believe in your power to achieve greatness. Visualize yourself gliding effortlessly, with a grin on your face and a bounce in your step – the very embodiment of running joy.

But wait, there’s more! Positive affirmations are like the superhero cape for your mindset. Whisper empowering mantras to yourself during your runs, reinforcing that belief in your own awesomeness. Your mind is a powerhouse, capable of either propelling you toward that euphoric high or holding you back. So, choose positivity, my running comrades, and watch the magic unfold with every stride.

Be Patient

If you’re new to the world of running and eagerly anticipating your first runner’s high, it’s important to remember that these things take time. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, achieving this euphoric running state doesn’t happen overnight.

But don’t let this discourage you. Think of your running journey as an adventure in self-discovery and personal growth. We’ve all experienced those initial struggles – the awkward first steps, the challenging breaths. Yet, every mile you run brings you closer to experiencing that magical runner’s high.

It’s normal for your body to need time to adjust to the rigors of running, and for your mind to find its rhythm in this new activity. But rest assured, with each run, you’re making progress, edging closer to that runner’s high.

And here’s something to keep in mind: even if you haven’t felt that rush yet, stay the course. Research indicates that many runners begin to feel the high after several months of consistent running. It’s a reward that awaits your dedication and hard work. So, forget about counting down the days and trust that the runner’s high will come when you’re ready for it.

Remember, the runner’s high is just one aspect of running. Even if you haven’t reached that ecstatic state yet, there are many other benefits you’re already enjoying. Running enhances self-esteem, reduces stress, builds endurance, and sharpens mental clarity. It’s a holistic journey that offers a multitude of rewards beyond just the high of running.

Is Running Bad For Your Knees?

Are you hesitating to hit the track because you’re concerned about the potential strain running may put on your knees and joints? Well, I’m here to dispel a common myth and shed some light on the matter!

Here’s the deal: Knee and joint discomfort is a valid concern for runners, but the truth is that running isn’t the villain it’s often portrayed to be. In fact, it can be a boon for your joints. Extensive research has shown that regular running can strengthen your joints and serve as a protective shield against future joint conditions like osteoarthritis.

However, there’s a persistent myth that has lingered in the running community for years—the belief that running is detrimental to your knees. It’s like that annoying fly at a picnic, buzzing around relentlessly. Despite this myth, there is ample scientific evidence that contradicts it, and we’ll delve into that compelling information shortly.

So, what’s on the agenda today? I’m on a mission to debunk the myth that running is harmful to your joints. I’ll guide you through the real impact of running on joint health, share insights from illuminating studies that have scrutinized the relationship between running and joints, and reveal how adopting the right techniques and practices can make running a safe and fulfilling activity for most individuals.

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Let’s lace up our sneakers and embark on a journey to uncover the truth about running and its effects on joint health. Are you ready to have your perspective transformed? Let’s dive in!

The Science Behind Running and Knee Health

Sure, running may seem straightforward (no pun intended), but it’s more than just moving your legs as fast as possible. In reality, running involves a complex biomechanical process where each stride generates a wave of energy that travels through your body, originating from your feet and extending up to your knees and beyond.

One area of your body that bears the brunt of this impact is your knees. These crucial joints serve as vital shock absorbers, handling the impact every time your foot makes contact with the ground. Given this repetitive impact, many individuals, including health experts, have concerns about long-term knee health.

However, here’s the twist in the plot. Studies suggest that running has the potential to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, which could offer some protective benefits.

Scientific Studies and Research on Running and Knee Health

This is the juicty part as we’re about to dive into a treasure trove of studies that debunk the notorious “Running is bad for your knees” myth! The evidence is in, and it’s time to set the record straight – running is not the enemy when it comes to our precious knee health.

Here’s the truth.

Scientists all over the world have taken up the challenge, comparing groups of avid runners and non-runners over extended periods of time. And guess what they found? Little to no evidence that runners are at a higher risk of osteoarthritis or knee surgery compared to those who shy away from the running scene.

But wait, there’s more! Some brave researchers go beyond just busting the myth – they claim that running is actually the knight in shining armor that can shield our knees from chronic conditions.

Without further ado, here’s a quick overview of some of these incredible studies that have turned the running world on its head and put those knee-damage fears to rest:

Research I – Running’s impact on the knee joint

Now, let’s dig into some eye-opening research published in the esteemed journal Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology.

A group of brave individuals, five men, and five women in their 40s with an average BMI of 25.9, decided to take on the ultimate challenge – a six-month marathon training plan.

The marathon plan had them log an average of 20 miles per week. The finish line was in sight, and they crossed it with flying colors – completing the epic 26.2-mile race!

But here’s the twist – scientists were not just bystanders. They decided to peek inside those knee joints and see what running had done to their precious cartilage. To do this, they used highly sensitive 3D MRI analysis, examining the thickness and volume of cartilage in different spots of the subjects’ knees both before and after the marathon.

The results were astonishing – no real damage detected! In fact, training and completing the 26.2-mile race left their knee cartilage unchanged.

But that’s not the whole story. The researchers had even more great news to share. It turned out that the runners were at less risk of arthritis compared to their sedentary counterparts. Talk about a double whammy of good news!

Research II  – Running Impact on The Hip Joint

A study published in the esteemed journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise compared the impact of running and walking on those precious hip joints. And guess what? The results will have you lacing up your running shoes with glee!

Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty. The researchers delved into the world of hip replacements and cases of osteoarthritis, studying a whopping 74,752 runners and 14,625 walkers over an impressive 5.7-year period. They were on a mission to uncover the truth – does running really take a toll on our hip joints, even for those of us who regularly participate in marathons?

Drumroll, please! Running is not just safe on your joints; it’s actually safer than walking! That’s right – those hip joints have nothing to fear when it comes to running. No increased chances of joint-related problems like osteoarthritis, even for the marathon enthusiasts among us.

But wait, there’s more! The running group was less likely to develop arthritis compared to their non-active counterparts.

It gets better – much better. The running group needed fewer hip replacement surgeries and had fewer cases of osteoarthritis than the walkers.

The researchers also concluded that the primary risk factor isn’t running, my friends – it’s obesity. Yep, you heard that right. Research shows that your risk for joint-related diseases skyrockets by five percent for every point increase in your body mass index.

Research III –  A case of Inflammation

You heard it here– running is not just a knee-friendly activity; it’s actually a powerful inflammation fighter!

Let’s dive into research from Brigham Young University that looked into how running impacts inflammation in the knee joint.

To do this, they set their sights on two key markers for inflammation, GM-CFS, and IL-15, found in the synovial fluid, which lubricate the cartilage and bone within the knee capsule.

Now, let’s get to the juicy part – what did they find? After a running session, the levels of both inflammation-related proteins decreased in concentration.

So, how does running achieve this incredible feat?

According to the researchers, running is chondroprotective, meaning it acts like a shield for the cartilage. This protection helps delay the onset of joint-related diseases, such as osteoarthritis.

So, let’s put an end to the myth once and for all – running is not the villain that causes knee problems. In fact, it’s a hero in disguise, fighting inflammation and safeguarding our knees like a champion.

The scientific evidence is loud and clear – running doesn’t increase the risk of osteoarthritis, even for those participating in long-distance running. It’s time to celebrate the power of running and the joy it brings to our knees and our hearts.

Still looking for more proof or research?

Check the following links

How to Take Care of Your Bones While Running

Now, let’s talk about who to keep your knees happy and thriving while logging the miles. Because, let’s be real, surveys show nearly half of us might get injured in a course of a year.

In fact, a whopping 40 percent of these injuries set their sights on the knees, with the infamous runner’s knee leading the charge. But guess what? It’s not the act of running that’s the villain; it’s how we approach it.

Take the following measures to ensure smooth and pain-free training:

  1. Train Smart: Newbie on the block? No need to sprint before you can jog. Kick things off with a walk-run combo to gradually build stamina and let your body get cozy with the running vibe.
  2. No Overtraining: Beware of the terrible “too’s” – too much too soon and too little nutrition can spell trouble, risking stress fractures in those precious limbs. Slow and steady wins the race!
  3. Warm-Up and Cool Down: Treat your body like a race car needing a warm-up. Stretch those muscles and joints before the run, and don’t forget the cool-down.
  4. Boost Those Glutes: Research says beefing up your lower body, especially the glutes and hips, is like giving extra armor to your knees. Flexibility in those hip flexors is also key – let’s keep those joints happy dancers.
  5. Rest Like a Pro: Give your muscles and joints the R&R they deserve. One day of full rest or a chill cross-training workout between runs – your body will thank you.
  6. Form is King: Nail that proper running form – it’s the backbone of injury prevention. You’re not just running; you’re running smart.
  7. Shoe choice: Head to that specialty running store and let the experts hook you up with the perfect pair. And remember to replace them regularly
  8. Check Your History: If joints issues are a thing in your family, maybe rethink that long-distance running romance. Take it slow, mix it up, and see what your unique journey holds.
  9. Surface Variety: Hard surfaces can be a real stress party for your feet. Alternate between concrete and the softer embrace of trail and grass – your joints will appreciate the change of scenery.
  10. Body Whispering: The golden rule – listen to your body. If it’s throwing a tantrum of pain, slow down, ice it, or maybe even call it a day. Painkillers aren’t the only healers in town.

There you have it, a roadmap to keeping your bones and joints in top-notch condition while you conquer those running milestones. Ready to hit the pavement with a grin? Lace up, and let’s make every run a celebration of strength and health!

How to Start Running: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

woman starting a run

Are you ready to lace up your running shoes and embark on a thrilling journey towards becoming a runner?

Then you’ve come to the perfect place.

As someone who has been pounding the pavement for over a decade and has guided countless beginners to running success, I’m here to equip you with everything you need to know to kickstart your running adventure.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll unveil the secrets to becoming a confident and injury-free runner. No more wondering how to start running or feeling overwhelmed by the process.

I’ll explain  how often you should run, the correct running technique to prevent injuries, and the ultimate beginner running plan that will take you from hesitant steps to victorious strides.

But wait, there’s more! Once you’ve conquered the basics, we’ll take your training to the next level, unlocking new levels of endurance, speed, and strength. You’ll learn the tips and tricks to elevate your running game and unleash your full potential.

By the time you reach the end of this post, you’ll be armed with the knowledge and tools to unleash your inner runner and reap the remarkable benefits that running has to offer.

Ready? Let’s get started!

How to Start Running? – The Exact System You Need

So you have decided  to start running.

First things first: Relax.

You won’t have to sacrifice an arm and a leg to the running gods to get started.

In fact, it’s not overwhelming, complicated, nor expensive.

The hardest part about taking up running for the first time is actually taking the first step.

If you do that, you’ve already gone farther than 82.5 percent of the population (a totally bogus statistic that I made just to make a point!), so give yourself a pat on the back.

If you ask me, it’s actually the easiest thing to do in the world—as long as you follow beginner running rules.

That’s where this section comes in handy.

Without further ado, here’s the exact step-by-step you need to become a runner.

Start Easy

Whether you’re a newbie lacing up your shoes for the very first time or a seasoned runner returning after a hiatus, there’s one golden rule you must engrave in your mind: start easy and build gradually. Trust me, I’ve witnessed too many beginners take on more than they can handle, only to find themselves sidelined by injuries or completely drained within weeks. We don’t want that for you.

Picture this: you’re famished, and a mouthwatering buffet lays before you. You can’t resist the temptation, so you pile your plate high with every delectable dish in sight. But soon enough, you realize that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

The same principle applies to running. If you go from zero to full-throttle, diving headfirst into high-intensity, high-volume, and high-impact training within a short period, you’re treading on dangerous ground.

Let me give it to you straight. You’re practically asking for trouble—burnouts and overuse injuries like Runners Knee and Stress Fractures—when you push too hard, too soon. Take a moment to let that sink in. It’s like trying to sprint before you’ve even learned to crawl.

During the first few months of your training (yes, I said months!), it’s essential to take it easy and embrace the beginner’s mindset. Start right where you are, not where you wish to be. It may not sound as glamorous as diving into intense workouts, but trust me, it’s the smartest approach you can take.

Additional resource – How to start running with your dog

Walk Before you Run

Not only does walking help you shed those extra pounds, but it also boosts your stamina, reduces stress, enhances your physical shape, and improves your overall health and well-being. It’s the foundation upon which you’ll build your running empire.

Now, let’s talk strategy. In these initial weeks, as you embark on your fitness journey, make it a habit to take 8 to 10 30-minute walks. This will gradually prepare your body for the transition into running. Think of it as priming the engine before you hit the gas pedal.

But what if you’re already in decent shape? Well, my friend, you’re ready to kick it up a notch. Gradually increase the duration of your walks to 60 minutes, three to four times a week. Allow your body to adapt to this new level of activity for at least three weeks before delving into the beginner running plan that awaits you.

How to Progress?

Now, it’s time to take your training to the next level and introduce a game-changing method that will revolutionize your running experience. Say hello to the walk/run method, a genius strategy crafted by the renowned running guru Jeff Galloway.

Here’s the secret sauce: the walk/run method combines the best of both worlds—low-intensity running intervals and strategic walking breaks. It’s like a beautifully choreographed dance between your feet and the ground, allowing you to manage fatigue, improve your fitness, and build stamina while safeguarding yourself from discomfort, injuries, and burnouts. It’s a method backed by science and championed by countless runners who have successfully embraced it.

Let’s break it down. As you transition from walking to incorporating running into your routine, take it step by step, quite literally. During the first week, aim for 20 to 30 minutes of walking per session. Feel the rhythm of your feet hitting the pavement as you gradually build up your strength.

As you move into the second week, it’s time to kick things up a notch. Increase your walking duration to 30 to 35 minutes per session. You’re pushing your boundaries, challenging your body to adapt and grow stronger.

But we’re not stopping there. Oh no, we’re just getting started. From here on out, I want you to add two to three precious minutes to your walks with each passing week. It may seem like a small increment, but it’s these incremental steps that will lead you to greatness. Keep adding those minutes until you’re comfortably walking for at least an hour. Feel the confidence surge through your veins as you conquer each milestone.

Once you’ve reached the point where you can power walk for an hour without breaking a sweat, it’s time to unleash the true runner within you. It’s time to embrace the run/walk method, alternating between easy jogs and well-deserved walking breaks. By incorporating short bursts of running into your regular walks, you’ll extend your endurance, push your limits, and remain injury-free.

How Much is Enough?

The exact run to walk ratio depends, mostly, on your current fitness level and training goals.

Now, here’s the golden rule: take breaks at the right times. Just like a well-timed pit stop during a thrilling race, these breaks will ensure you don’t push yourself to the brink of exhaustion. It’s all about strategic rest, my friend.

Let’s explore three walk-to-running ratios that you can experiment with. Remember, you have the freedom to choose the one that suits you best. No pressure, no judgment—just you and your personalized running journey.

If you’re just starting out on this exhilarating path, consider yourself a complete beginner. Start by running at an easy and slow pace for 10 to 20 seconds, and then reward yourself with a rejuvenating one to two minutes of walking. Feel the rhythm of this alternating dance between running and walking, allowing your body to adapt and grow stronger with each step.

As you progress and enter the intermediate stage, typically after two to three weeks of consistent running, it’s time to challenge yourself a little further. Embrace the runner within you by extending your running intervals. Push yourself to run for two to five minutes, and then savor the bliss of one to two minutes of walking. It’s a delicate balance, a symphony of effort and recovery, propelling you towards your running aspirations.

Now, if you’ve been on this running journey for over a month, congratulations! You’ve reached the realm of experience. It’s time to unleash your true potential. Challenge yourself to run for a solid ten minutes, immersing yourself in the sheer exhilaration of movement. Then, catch your breath with a short but well-deserved 30 seconds to one minute of walking.

Additional resource – Here’s your guide to running three miles a day.

Run For longer

As you progress on your running journey, the key is to gradually increase the time you spend running while reducing the number of recovery breaks you take. It’s a beautiful dance between pushing your limits and allowing your body to adapt and grow stronger. Picture it like a challenging puzzle where each piece fits into place with each passing day.

Now, let’s talk about reaching that magical milestone of running for a solid 25 to 30 minutes without feeling like you’re gasping for air. The timeline for reaching this goal varies depending on your current fitness level, but one thing is certain: consistency is the name of the game.

Stay committed and trust the process.

With each step, each breath, and each stride, you’ll inch closer to that moment of effortless running bliss.

Once you’ve conquered the 30-minute mark with ease, it’s time to level up your running game. It’s time to add a dash of variety to your training program. Think of it as spicing up a delicious dish with different flavors and textures. You can add distance to challenge your endurance, incorporate speed work to enhance your quickness, and conquer hills to strengthen those leg muscles. The possibilities are endless, and your running adventure is about to get even more exciting.

Now, let’s talk about exertion levels during your runs. It’s important to find that sweet spot where you’re pushing yourself enough without going into full-on sprint mode. Aim for a 6 to 7 out of 10 on the exertion scale during the running portion of your workout. Feel the burn, embrace the challenge, but also listen to your body’s cues.

And when it’s time to switch to a walking break, dial it down to a comfortable 2 to 3 on the exertion scale. It’s all about finding that delicate balance and honoring your body’s needs.

Want more structure?

Try my couch to 5K treadmill plan.

Follow a Beginner Running Plan

Having a plan is key to achieving any goal–let alone running.

You don’t pursue a career in marketing, for example, without a concrete plan of studying the right books and tutoring under the right teachers.

That’s why I highly recommend you follow a well rounded, well-thought training plan, just like the one shared below.

Doing so will not only help you build your training volume, but also keep you motivated beyond the initial motivation.

The simple beginner runner plan features three days of run-walk sessions.

You begin with a few short intervals of running–or slow-paced jogging–for 30 to 60 seconds, then build you on that while taking less and less for recovery.

By the end of the eight weeks, you should be able to run for thirty minutes straight–that’s roughly two to three miles–without much trouble.

Week One – Walk for five minutes, then jog for 30 to 6o seconds.

Repeat three to four times.

Week Two – walk for three minutes, then jog for one to two minutes.

Repeat the sequence for four to five times.

Week Three – Walk for three minutes, then jog for two to three minutes.

Repeat the cycle for five to six times.

Week Four – Walk for three minutes, then jog for three minutes.

Repeat the cycle six times.

Week Five – Walk for two minutes, then jog for three to four minutes.

Repeat the cycle four to five times.

Week Six – Walk for two minutes, then jog for five minutes.

Repeat the sequence three to four times.

Week Seven – Walk for two minutes, then jog for eight to ten minutes.

Repeat the cycle two to three times.

Week Eight – Warm up by brisk walking for 10 minutes, then slow jog for 20 to 30 minutes while keeping an easy and conversational pace.

Just keep in mind that this is a generic plan, so feel free to adjust it according to your own needs and preferences.

It’s not written in stone by any means.

Looking for a more extensive plan?

Try my couch to 5K training schedule.

And if you’re into challenges?

Give this 30-day running challenge a try.

You can also learn how to design your running plan here.

Note – Here’s how often should you run per week.

How Long Does it Take To Become A Runner?

If only I could conjure a magical stopwatch to provide you with a definitive answer. Alas, my friend, the path to becoming a runner is as diverse and intricate as the winding trails we traverse.

I must emphasize that each individual embarks on this journey with a unique set of circumstances and characteristics. Just as each snowflake boasts its own intricate design, your journey to becoming a runner is a personal tale, shaped by a multitude of factors.

Let’s explore some of these factors that weave together to create your running narrative:

First and foremost, we have your current shape. Are you starting from scratch, or do you possess a level of fitness from previous activities? Your starting point sets the stage for the adventure that lies ahead.

Consider your training history. Have you dabbled in running before, or are you a complete novice to the world of pounding pavement? Previous experiences, whether they involve running or other forms of physical activity, contribute to your body’s adaptation process.

Age is but another brushstroke on the canvas of your running journey. As the years grace us with their presence, our bodies may respond differently to the rigors of training. Fear not, for age is but a number, and determination knows no bounds.

Ah, the weight we carry, both physically and metaphorically. Your current body weight can influence the demands placed upon your joints, muscles, and cardiovascular system. Remember, every stride forward is a step towards a stronger and healthier you, regardless of the number on the scale.

Now, let us not overlook the intricate tapestry of our genetic makeup. Like a hidden treasure map, our genetic composition influences our body’s response to training stimuli. Embrace your unique genetic blueprint, for it holds the secrets to unlocking your potential.

RPE Running: How to Use the Rate of Perceived Exertion for Optimal Performance

RPE Explained for runners

Are you ready to dive into the fascinating world of running intensity? Buckle up, my friend, because we’re about to embark on a journey that will unveil the secrets of measuring your effort and maximizing your training gains. Welcome to the realm of RPE in running!

Now, let’s get one thing straight: running intensity is the key ingredient that can make or break your training. It’s like the delicate balance between pushing your limits and avoiding the perilous cliffs of overexertion. Striking that sweet spot is essential for your progress and overall well-being.

Think of it this way: running is a dance with effort. You need to find the perfect rhythm, the right amount of exertion, to reap the rewards without succumbing to the dangers that lie in extremes. Too much intensity, and you risk injury or burnout. Too little, and your fitness level may plateau, leaving you yearning for progress.

That’s where the Rating of Perceived Exertion, or RPE, comes into play. It’s like a secret code that unlocks the mysteries of your effort level. This rating system, my friend, is a game-changer for runners of all backgrounds and aspirations. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting your running journey, RPE is a crucial tool in your training arsenal.

In this post, I’ll be your guide, shedding light on RPE in running. We’ll unravel its intricacies, understand its significance, and discover how to harness its power for maximum effect. So, get ready to elevate your training experience and take your performance to new heights.

Ready? Let’s get to it.

What is The RPE Scale?

The RPE scale, also known as the “Borg CR10 scale” or the “Modified RPE scale,” is like a trusted companion for exercise physiologists and personal trainers. It allows them to peer into the depths of your effort and measure the intensity of your physical activity. It’s like a window into your exertion level, revealing the inner workings of your body as you push yourself to new heights.

Imagine this scale as a ladder with rungs numbered from 1 to 10. Each rung represents a different level of perceived exertion, offering descriptive statements that capture the essence of how hard or difficult an exercise feels to you. It’s a language of effort, spoken through numbers and sensations.

These numbers are more than mere digits. They are a reflection of the symphony of sensations you experience during physical activity. Think of it as a tapestry of physical stresses—increased respiration, a racing heart, beads of sweat forming on your brow, muscles fatiguing, and a touch of discomfort.

Let’s explore the spectrum of the RPE scale. At the lower end, a rating of 1 signifies minimal effort, as if you’re strolling through a meadow on a sunny day. On the other hand, a rating of 9 signifies near maximal exertion, where you’re pushing yourself to the limit, like a sprinter giving it their all in the final stretch of a race.

The beauty of the RPE scale lies in its versatility. While it’s commonly used in cardiovascular training, it can be seamlessly integrated into various forms of exercise, including resistance training.

It’s Convenient

With the RPE scale, you can gauge your effort without missing a beat. No need to interrupt your flow and fumble with a heart rate monitor or pulse-checking antics. It’s like a seamless conversation between your body and mind, allowing you to stay in the zone and keep pushing forward.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room—the initial intimidation factor of the RPE complex rating system. I won’t sugarcoat it; it can feel like trying to decipher a cryptic code at first.

Think of it as embarking on a thrilling treasure hunt. The more you delve into understanding the nuances of the RPE scale, the closer you get to uncovering its hidden gems. It’s like polishing a diamond, revealing its true brilliance over time. And believe me, the effort is well worth it, especially as you embark on a serious running journey.

Different Runners Different Strokes

Let’s dive in and unlock the true power of the RPE rating system.

Here’s the secret ingredient: Just start using it. Yes, you heard me right. Don’t overthink it or hesitate. Embrace the RPE scale and make it a part of your training routine, even if you’ve never used it before. Trust me, the more you practice, the better you’ll become at harnessing its benefits.

Picture this: You’re in the midst of a challenging workout, beads of sweat glistening on your forehead. In that moment, tune in to your body and rate your effort on a scale of 1 to 10. How hard are you pushing yourself? How does it feel? This self-awareness is key. And don’t forget to also rate your workout right after you finish.

To truly master the art of RPE, make it a habit to jot down your ratings in your trusty training diary. This record becomes your personal compass, guiding you through the intricacies of your progress.

Now, here’s a little reminder: The beauty of the RPE scale lies in its individuality. There are no fixed numbers etched in stone. What might be an all-out effort for one person could be a leisurely jog for another.

As you continue to use the RPE scale, something magical will happen. Your inner sensors will become finely tuned, like a symphony conductor who effortlessly guides the orchestra. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of your body’s signals and push yourself to new heights.

Additional resource – Heart murmurs while exercising

RPE In Running Explained

  1. Very easy. No exertion. You’re lounging on the couch, doing nothing physically The only movement you are doing is holding a potato chip and pushing buttons on the remote.
  2. Fairly light exertion. This is how you ought to feel when you are warming up and cooling down, or stretching. You can converse with no effort.
  3. Light exertion. You are moving, but it’s slow and easy like strolling. This how you should warm up your body before running. You can converse with almost no effort.
  4. Moderately easy. Your breathing and heart rate is a little faster. You’re feeling a little warmer. And you’re starting to work up a sweat. But you can still maintain a conversation while exercising without much effort.
  5. Moderate to somewhat hard exertion. Your heart is pumping faster. You are breathing harder. You’re feeling warmer. You can still converse, but it is getting tougher.
  6. Hard exertion. You are breathing hard now. But you can still sip from your water bottle. You can only say a few words at a time.
  7. Hard to somewhat intense exertion. You are breathing really hard, and are wondering how you can keep on going like this.
  8. Very hard. You are breathing hard and nearing your maximal limit. You can no longer say a few words without gasping for air.
  9. Super hard. You feel like your lungs are about to explode. You cannot keep this intensity for more than one minute. Conversing is impossible. This is one tad bit away from your maximum.
  • Ultimate exertion. This is your absolute limit. You cannot keep this pace for more than 10 seconds. Speaking is out of the question. Pain is everywhere.

How to Use The RPE Scale?

As you settle into your run, take a moment to assess your exertion level using the RPE scale. How does it feel? Are you cruising at a comfortable pace, or do you crave a bit more intensity? If you find yourself rating below 6 on the scale and have the desire to push yourself further, it’s time to kick it up a notch.

Increase your pace, indulge in some invigorating interval sprints, or conquer those challenging inclines and uphills. It’s like adding a dash of spice to your running recipe, infusing it with newfound energy and excitement.

But what if you find yourself rating at an 8 or 9 on the scale, indicating a high intensity level? Take a moment to reassess. While it’s great to challenge yourself, it’s important to listen to your body’s signals.

If you’re mid-workout and feel like you’re pushing too hard, it’s perfectly okay to dial back the intensity. Slow down your pace until you find yourself back in the moderate intensity zone. It’s like finding your rhythm in a captivating dance, gracefully adjusting your movements to maintain balance and avoid overexertion.

Now, here’s a valuable resource to complement your RPE journey: the Maffetone Method. This guide can provide you with additional insights and techniques to optimize your training. Explore it, embrace it, and let it enhance your understanding of the RPE scale and its application in your running routine.

RPE And Heart Rate Zones

Here’s where science meets perception: studies have shown a strong correlation between RPE ratings and heart rate during exercise.

For example, a challenging interval run might correspond to an RPE of 9-10 or 94 to 99 percent of your maximum heart rate. On the other hand, an easy recovery session might align with an RPE of 3-4, reflecting roughly 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.

However, keep in mind that these are rough estimates, as individual factors such as physical conditioning and age can influence the relationship between RPE and heart rate. It’s like unraveling the mysteries of your own body, understanding its unique responses to exertion.

This is how you can correlate it to heart rate zones so you can have more measuring tools on your hand.

  • 2-4 – Very light zone – 50 to 60 percent
  • 4-5 – Light zone – 60  to 70 percent
  • 5-7 – Moderate zone – 70 to 80 percent
  • 7-9 – Hard zone – 80 to 90 percent
  • 9-10 – Maxiumum zone – 90 to 100 percent.

RPE in Running – The Conclusion

There you have it! If you’re looking for the full guide to RPE in running, then this post should get you started on the right foot. I’ve also shared with you a brief description on the link between RPE and heart rate zones. This means that you apply the RPE chart shared while doing any form physical exercise – Not just running.

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

In the meantime thank you for dropping by.

Keep training strong.

The 101 Best Running Tips and Hacks of All Time

If you’re serious about reaching your full running potential, then you’re in the right place.

In today’s post, I’m sharing more than 100 running tips designed to help make your workout routine a complete success.

Follow these practical, simple, and proven strategies, and you’ll reach your full running potential in no time.

Let’s get this ball rolling…

but first things first, let’s take a look some of the benefits running has to offer:

1. Running Helps you Lose Weight

This is the main reason I took up running, and still one of the most common reasons people start running in the first place.

Running will help lose the extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight.

In fact, for a 200-pound person running can burn more than 900 calories in an hour.

That’s huge.

What’s more?

Research has also shown that running increases the “after burn”, or what’s known as EPOC, standing for excess post oxygen consumption, which is the number of calories you burn after a workout.

Running is also a far superior form of cardio exercise when it comes to weight loss.

According to research from the Medical College of Wisconsin, people who run at a hard exertion level burned off roughly 800 calories per hour—more calories than when opting for the stationary bike, the stair climber, or the rowing machine.

But here is the little caveat.

As you already know, weight loss is a numbers’ game—meaning you will only lose weight if you burn more calories than you take in.

Therefore, to lose weight while running, you need to back your exercise regime with the right diet; otherwise, your results will be limited.

2. Running Makes you Happy

Study suggests that regular exercise is an efficient form of treatment for mild-to-moderate cases of depression and anxiety.

According to research, exercise—and running in particular—can help you relieve anxiety, stress, and depression, reinvigorating you from the inside out.

How does running help?

Well, according to the current scientific belief, running (and other forms of exercise) stimulates the release of good-feel brain chemicals known as endorphins, causing what’s commonly known as “runner’s high,” while reducing the release of the chemicals that exacerbate depression.

Another study published in Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, exercise can help people cope with stress and anxiety after completing a workout session.

Therefore, if you are suffering from depression, anxiety or other emotional/mental issues, then you might need to take up running instead of relying exclusively on the pills.

3. Running Relieves Stress

As you already know, stress is blamed for all sorts of health issues, such as obesity, depression, cardiovascular disease, cancer and so on.

Hence, anything you can do to tame the beast of stress is surely welcomed.

Good news is that running might just be what the doctor ordered.

In fact, if you are looking to curb anxiety and reduce stress, then exercising for at least an hour is roughly three times better than sticking to the couch, according to research from the University of Georgia.

While running, your body releases mood-boosting and good-feel hormones, such as endorphins,  and you increase your heart rate, which reverses damage to the brain caused by stressful experiences, according to research.

Furthermore,  running can also slash your risks of developing tension headaches and migraines, according to a study.

Not only that, running will also give you the opportunity to get outside, breathe clean air, clear your mind, and feel much better about yourself.

So instead of sitting on the couch and staring aimlessly at your laptop, try taking up running.

Additional Resource – Running during lunch break

4. Running is Good for the Joints and Bones

Of course, running is a cardiovascular exercise per excellence, but according to science, running also strengthens the bones and the joints—especially the knees.

How?

First of all, running boosts the amount of oxygenated blood that makes its way to your joints, thereby increasing oxygen delivery and toxins removal.

Furthermore,  running also strengthens the ligaments surrounding the joints in ways that lower-impact exercise routines ignore, which can help you prevent joint pain.

And if you still believe in the myth of “running is bad for the knees,” then you really need to drop it and realize that current research found no link between running and arthritis.

The fact is, running might even help protect you from joint problems later on in your life, according to a famous long-term study conducted the Stanford University and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2008.

Still, if you want to err on the right side when it comes to running and knee problems and/or pain, then you need to run in the right footwear, develop proper running technique, progress gradually and remember to listen to your body the entire time—essential elements of injury free running.

5. Running Boosts Mental Faculties

Running also might help guard you against Alzheimer and other brain related troubles.

According to a study published in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, there is irrefutable evidence showing that consistent aerobic exercise helps beat age-related mental decline, especially when it comes to vital functions such as task switching, problem-solving and working memory.

In fact, according to a study published in Perceptual and Motor Skills, subjects performed 20 percent better on standard memory tests after completing a short treadmill session than they did before working out.

Plus, their ability to solve complex problems also increased by 20 percent.

What’s more?

Well, research has also shown that running promotes neurogenesis, the process of the growth of fresh nerve cells.

6. Running Reduces the Risks of Cancer

Don’t get me wrong.

I didn’t say that running cures cancer, but according to plenty of research, hitting the pavement on a regular basis might help prevent this notorious killer.

In fact, a review of more than 170 epidemiological studies has linked regular exercise to a lower risk of certain cancer, according to the Journal of Nutrition.

According to study, even the simple activity of walking, at least, seven hours per week can help women reduce the likelihood of breast cancer by up to 14 percent than their more sedentary counterparts.

And for those who opted out for more vigorous exercise, mainly running or swimming, for about six hours a week,  were able to reduce their risk by roughly 25 percent.

So it’s really a game changer when it comes to cancer.

7. Running Leads to Better Sleep

Having sleep problems? Running might help.

According to research, running promotes higher quality sleep.

In fact, those who run on a consistent basis in the morning showed a betterment in objective sleep, according to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Furthermore, research concluded that people with sleeping problems were able to improve the quality of their sleep after starting a regular exercise program, according to a study conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Another study published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity found that people reported sleeping better and feeling more energized during the day if they get at least 160 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise during the week.

So if you are the insomniac type, then the cure might lay with your running shoes, and probably not with a prescription pill.

8. Running Protects you Against Heart Disease

As you might already know, cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of sudden death in the US.

The good news is taking up running is, hands down, one of the best things you can do protect you against heart diseases and reduce the risk of mortality.

According to a study published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, regular runners have a 45 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases, and running for no more than five minutes every day can slash the risk of cardiovascular disease by nearly a half.

How?

There a plenty of ways that running helps cut the risk of sudden death, including boosting HDL (or what’s known as the good cholesterol) levels, increasing lung function, reducing blood pressure and enhancing blood sugar sensitivity, along with a host other cardiovascular benefits.

9. Running Adds More Years to your Life

In the longevity circles, running has always been touted as one of the best ways for elongating lifespan and living a healthier and more active life in the later years.

And there is an abundance of studies to support these claims.

In fact, according to a long-term study conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine, researchers examined the impact of running on health and found that after two decades of research,  regular runners had a significantly lower mortality rate compared to non-runners with about 80 percent of runners still alive, while only 65 percent of non-runners were, after the conclusion of the study.

According to research, runners are regularly found to enjoy and experience a longer lifespan and are found to live on average three years longer than their non-runners counterparts.

So if you are serious about adding years, quality years, to your life, then you should take up running.

10. You Don’t Need to Run a Lot

As you already see, running has a lot to offer.

But that’s not the whole story.

To add more icing on the cake, study after study has shown that you don’t to become an ultra distance runner and be running +100 miles per week to reap the physical and health benefits of the sport.

The fact is, hitting the pavement for no more than 50 minutes per week—the equivalent of two 5K training sessions or a 6-mile distance run—is enough to protect your body from risks of arthritis, high cholesterol, diabetes, and some cancers, leading to an improvement in a runner’s longevity by three to six years, according to a meta-analysis published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

In other words, it will only take a little bit of running per week to reap the optimal health benefits of the sport.

Better Memory Function

For starters, running may help guard you against Alzheimer and other brain-related troubles, according to a study published in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

Research that looked at roughly 153,000 runners and walkers for over a decade  concluded that runners who logged in more than 15 miles each week were 40 percent less likely to die from Alzheimer’s.

In another study reported in Perceptual and Motor Skills, subjects improved their performance on standard memory tests by up to 20 percent following a short treadmill session, compared to pre-training tests.

The subjects’ ability to solve complex problems also increased by 20 percent.

Stress Reduction

Stress has severe adverse effects on your emotional state, behavior, and body.

Negative consequences include intense headaches, chest pain, muscle tension, anger issues, weight gain, sleep problems, etc.

Here’s the good news.

Thanks to the endorphins release, running is a popular stress buster, and one of the reasons so many people hit the pavement.

And it’s not just anecdotes.

Research conducted at the Technische Universität München (TUM), and published in the Journal of Neuroscience has put the endorphin theory to closer scrutiny.

In the research, ten subjects’ brains were scanned both before and after a two-hour long distance run using a Positron Emission Tomography (PET)—and it was revealed that their prefrontal and limbic regions secreted high amounts of endorphins.

Why this matters, you might be wondering?

Endorphins, in case you never heard about them, are one of the so-called happiness hormones that are secreted by the brain’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland.

These are linked to elevated moods, and better alertness and cognitive functioning.

The more endorphins released by the brain, the more significant the effect.

And apparently, running stimulates the release of these neurochemicals into the brain.

A good thing if you ask me.

Mood Elevation

Research reported in Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise revealed that runners have high levels of tryptophan, a brain biochemical that helps move messages throughout the nervous system and is in charge of many functions, including the production of mood-elevating neurotransmitters known as serotonin.

People with low serotonin levels typically suffer from insomnia, anxiety, depression, and overheating issues.

Classic antidepressant medication work by keeping the levels of these neurotransmitters higher and longer in the system.

Wanna know the best part?

Unlike other chemical shortcuts to happiness—medication, running does not come with a comedown.

Smarter Connections

Research has  revealed that exercise enhances your executive functions—or your higher level thinks skills.

These include (but not limited to) mental focus, task switching, inhibitory control, etc.

As you can already tell, these skills are of the utmost importance of leading a successful life.

They’re key to problem-solving, organizing, planning, and regulating behavior.

What’s more?

Running also makes you smarter as it triggers the growth of new nerve cells, neurogenesis—and blood vessels, angiogenesis.

Put together, these help increase brain tissue volume, according to research conducted at the University of Maryland.

In the study, the researchers found an increase in the volume of the hippocampus—the brain region associated with learning and memory—in those who exercised regularly when compared to sedentary peers.

This may not seem as much until you realize, once again, that brain size isn’t known for increasing at any point in adulthood.

We start to lose brain tissue as early as our late 20’s.

Faster Thinking

Do you want to be faster at solving problems and remembering things? Exercise might be what you need.

According to research published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, both low-intensity aerobic running, and high-intensity sprinting can enhance your capacity to learn and recall new information and vocabulary.

This is possible thanks to the increased levels of the protein BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), and the neurotransmitter catecholamine, both heavily involved in learning and brain cognitive functions, research shows.

What’s more?

Research has also revealed that older adults with plenty of aerobic exercise experience have better white matter integrity than their non-active peers.

Improved Sleep

Sleep issues affect millions of adults.

Surveys reveal that roughly 50 percent of people aged 50 and older suffer from symptoms of sleep deprivation and other serious sleep disorders.

And yes, you guessed that right.

Running can also help improve your sleep quality.

It might even help you overcome common sleep problems.

Research backs these claims up.

A study out of the Journal of Adolescent Health revealed that those who followed a regular morning running routine showed improvement in objective sleep.

A further study reported in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity revealed that subjects reported sleeping better and felt more energized during the day when getting at least 160 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise during the week.

Research has also found that regular exercise, not just running, help improve daytime alertness, regulate circadian rhythms, and faster onset of deeper sleep.

The 101 Best Running Tips and Hacks of All Time

without further ado, here’s a list of the best running tips ever.

  1. Get the Right Shoes

Shoes are the most important running equipment.

Period.

A proper shoe not only makes running feel more comfortable, but also help improve your performance and ward off all sorts of injuries, including shin splints, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, and foot pain.

How do you pick the right shoes?

The golden rule is to go for a shoe that feels comfortable.

That’s the conclusion of a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The right shoes have to match your natural foot shape and biomechanics.

As a rule of thumb, leave at least a thumbnail’s distance (roughly 1 cm, or ½ an inch) from the end of your longest toes (while flat on the floor) to the end of the shoe.

In other words, you should be able to freely wiggle all of your toes, with plenty of room to spare.

For the full guide on how to choose the right running shoes, see my post here.

  1. Visit a Specialty Running Store

Don’t know what it takes to pick a proper pair?

Head to a specialty running store dedicated specifically to running-related gear, accessories, and gadgets.

Once you’re there, have your foot type and gait analyzed by the professional staff.

That’s how you’ll find out things you might not know on your own – you might be a severe overpronator or underpronator who needs trainers with a bit of more support than the typical (mostly neutral) runner.

They’ll know and explain what you need.

When you go shoe shopping, treat their staff the way you would a physician.

Be willing to answer all sorts of questions regarding your training goals and personal preferences.

It’s worth the extra cost you’ll pay there to get a true “shoe fitting” service.

  1. Wear the Right Clothing

Once you have the right running shoes, add on some basic running clothing and apparel.

You’ll need shirts for different seasons, preferably made of moisture-wicking technical fabrics that can help pull the sweat away from your skin and keep you dry and comfortable in the process.

Some of the best fabrics include Coolmax and Dri-fit.

Special apparel costs a little bit more than casual clothing, but you’ll find that it’s worth every penny — especially if you’re serious about staying comfortable for the long haul.

You’ll need a couple of pairs of bottoms: shorts, tights, pants, or even a skirt if you find that more comfortable.

And female runners need a good sports bra that both provides support and reduces the risk of chafing.

Other items to consider include (but are not limited to) running sunglasses, hats, hydration belts, sports watches, heart monitors, and more.

Here’s the full guide to cold weather running.

  1. Opt for Smart Socks

The golden rule on running is that you should not run in cotton socks. Cotton absorbs and retains moisture, and since your feet will sweat, running in cotton will leave your feet soggy and moist.

This leads to the two side effects of moisture and friction —calluses and blisters.

Instead, go for technical running socks.

These wick moisture away from your feet, keeping them comfortable and relatively dry.

Smart socks are made from either a blend of natural fibers such as wool, or from synthetic fibers such as nylon, acrylic, or Coolmax.

You can also try compression socks.

  1. Have More than One Pair

According to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, runners who rotate their shoes among various models during a 6-month period had a 40 percent lower risk of incurring a running injury than those who ran in the same pair through the same period.

If you’re serious about reducing your risk of injury, train in more than one pair.

  1. Clean Your Shoes

If you take care of your running shoes, they’ll return the favor and take good care of your feet.

They’ll also last longer.

Failure to do so will mean that your shoes will lose their cushioning properties sooner than they need to: neglect wears them out prematurely.

Here are a few shoe-cleaning rules:

  • Do not toss your running shoes in the washer. Wash them manually instead.
  • Use an old toothbrush or nail brush and mild soap — preferably an anti-grease soap. A bit of water added in will wash away stains, dirt, and mud.
  • Do not toss your shoes in the dryer. Dry them in the open air under direct sunlight.
  1. Replace Your Running Shoes

Sooner or later, your trainers will wear out and lose their shock-absorption properties.

That’s when you need to ditch them and get a new pair.

Here’s the bad news.

As far as I know, there’s no proven formula that tells you exactly when to replace your running shoes.

That’s because there are many factors that impact running shoe lifespan, including:

  • Running surfaces
  • Runner weight
  • Weekly mileage
  • Training intensity
  • Running biomechanics
  • The climate you run in

As a rough guide, a running shoe should last you between 500 and 600 miles. Once your shoes go beyond this range you’re risking discomfort and pain, as well as injury.

My best advice is to use an app like MapMyRun to keep tabs on the mileage of a specific pair, or you can do it the old-fashioned way, using pen and paper or an Excel spreadsheet.

Additional resource – Guide to running lingo

  1. Tie Your Shoes the Right Way

Tying their shoes is something that well-accomplished 5-year-olds can do with ease. But there are many different ways to lace trainers, and different techniques can not only make them more comfortable, but also help avoid all sorts of discomfort.

According to a study conducted at the University of Duisberg-Essen in Germany, shoe-lacing technique has a huge influence on impact force, pronation, and foot biomechanics.

In this infographic, you’ll find a lineup of top knots to learn.

Infographic source: RunRepeat.Com

Bonus tip: You can also invest in a pair of Lock Laces.

  1. Dress For 10 Degrees Warmer Than What the Thermometer Says

Running during the winter has its challenges, but if you overdress, you’ll get in trouble.

For winter running, you need to aim for warmth, but without making yourself sweat so much that you get a chill.

That’s why I highly recommend that you dress as if it’s 10 to 15 degrees warmer than it is outside. You should feel slightly cold when you take your first few steps outside. Once you get moving you’ll warm up quite a bit, so don’t worry about feeling cold at first.

  1. Try YakTrax

As a winter runner, you need good traction to prevent sliding and slipping — especially when road conditions are freezing and/or snowy.

One thing you can do to make sure that you stay on your feet is to try YakTrax. It’s a traction device that meets the needs of runners during wintertime. They improve control and stability when there’s snow, sleet, and ice underfoot.

  1. Buy Running Garments On Sale

Are you a runner on a tight budget?

Buy your athletic garments at the end of the season.

As with any other store, running specialty stores put sale items on clearance as the weather changes to make room for the new models and styles that are coming in.

I’ve purchased some of my favorite summer running clothes in late autumn or winter when it was too cold to run in them, and my favorite cold-weather running gear when the temperature outside was hot

There’s nothing wrong with last season’s styles. They’re generally made from the same materials, and running clothes are performance tools, not fashion statements.

For the best running shoe deals on the web, check ShoeKicker.com. It’s a great website that scours the internet looking for the best deals.

  1. Use GPS Tracking Apps

Being able to measure your day-to-day performance is a great way to reach the next athletic level. After all, if you can’t measure, you can’t improve it.

Fortunately, advances in mobile apps mean that you can challenge yourself each time you head out the door. Running apps are perfect for beginning runners who need a little bit of a push and a way to monitor their progress, as well as for elite runners trying to stay in peak shape throughout the racing season.

That’s why, whether you’re training for your first 5K or your 11th marathon, your smartphone (or any other “smart” device) can be an excellent coach.

Here are a few of some of the best apps out there:

  • Runtastic
  • RunKeeper
  • Strava
  • MapMyRun
  • Edmundo
  • MyFitnessPal
  1. Use a Heart Rate Monitor

Using a heart monitor is like having a coach along for every run. When used right, it can show you, down to the stride, how hard or easy you are working. It can help you find your running sweet spot and prevent overtraining or undertraining in the process.

Here are the four main heart rate training zones you need to be aware of. Plan your workouts within each zone for a well-rounded training program

Zone 1—The recovery or energy efficient zone, it’s roughly 60 to 70 percent of maximum heart rate, or MHR.

Zone 2—The aerobic heart rate zone, it’s roughly 70 to 80 percent of MHR.

Zone 3—The anaerobic zone, it’s about 80 to 90 percent of MHR.

Zone 4—The VO2Max or Red Zone, it’s approximately 90 to 99.99 percent of MHR

Additional resource – How long is a 100-mile race?

  1. Protect Your Electronics

If you do a lot of running in the rain with a non-waterproof phone or GPS watch, then you need to protect your electronic devices from water damage.

Here’s how:

Store your device(s) in a lightweight zip-lock bag. The bag should to be securely sealed to prevent water from leaking in.

You can also cloak your device in plastic wrap, leaving no “skin” exposed. When wrapping, make sure that the charger port is well covered.

What I love about using plastic wrap is that it’s dense enough to protect against moisture but thin enough that you’ll still be able to use the touchscreen through the plastic.

Additional resource  – Choosing a running partner

  1. Manage Your Keys

If all the jingling and jangling of running with keys in your pocket drives you nuts, you’re not alone. Here’s my favorite solution:

Take the key off of its keychain, unlace your shoe a notch, then slide one of your shoelaces through the key and put it on the string. Tuck the key under the other lace before retying your shoe.

To keep the key from bouncing around, tie your shoe using a double knot and secure the other end of the key under the crisscrossed laces.

This technique will give you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy your run.

If you don’t want to do this, you can put a rubber band around your keys before tossing them in your pocket, or try putting them on a shoelace and wearing them like a necklace.

  1. Long Walks First

If you’ve been exercising regularly for the last 3 to 6 months and you’re already in good shape, you may choose to skip this step, but if you’re a real beginner, this is the most important step for building the right foundation.

Before you start running, do plenty of walks to prep your body. Start out with 30 minutes of brisk walking, then build it up to a full hour, three times a week for a full month.

By week four you should be walking for at least 60 minutes at a brisk pace three times per week. Now you’re ready to move onto a walk/run schedule.

  1. Walk/Run

The walk/run method is ideal for helping new trainees get fit without getting hurt. The key here is to gradually stretch your comfort zone without overextending it.

Here’s how to do it

Start with a proper warm-up of 10 minutes of walking at a brisk pace. This will get your heart rate up and the blood flowing to your muscles.

Next, jog slowly for 20 to 30 seconds. Slow it down and walk for 30 seconds to a full minute, then jog again for another 20 seconds.

Keep repeating the cycle for 15 to 20 minutes, then end your session with a 10-minute cooldown.

If everything is going well, increase your running time by 5 to 10 seconds from one session to the next. Do these increases gradually, staying within your fitness level the entire time.

  1. Give C25K a Try

Newcomers to running or those returning to it after a long layoff should give the C25k app a try.

This handy app offers a nine-week training plan that can help you train for a 5K race (roughly 3.1 miles) in a gradual and safe manner. You only need to commit 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week.

Additional Resource – Running during lunch break

  1. Start on the Treadmill

The treadmill is the perfect tool for building endurance without putting too much stress on the body. It gives you full control over your speed and incline, and allows you to adjust your speed and intensity to match your fitness level.

You really can’t overtrain on the treadmill unless you’re doing so on purpose, ignoring your body’s signals of pain and discomfort.

Here’s the workout routine you need:

Warm up for 10 minutes. Start with a 10-minute walk at 1.5 to 2 mph, then jog for three minutes at a pace of 2.5 to 3 mph for next three minutes. Make sure to practice good running form.

Increase the speed to 3.5 to 4 mph and stick to this relatively fast pace for one full minute before slowing back down to a walk for another 4 minutes.

Increase your speed to 3 mph and jog for three minutes, then run for one minute, picking up your pace to 4 to 5 mph (or even faster if your fitness allows it). Back off if your body hurts or your form starts to suffer.

Finish off with a 10-minute cooldown walk.

  1. The Talk Test

As a beginning runner, make sure that you’re running at what is known as a conversational pace. This means you should be able to speak in full sentences on-the-go without gasping for air. Want to test yourself?

If you can recite the Pledge of Allegiance without too much difficulty, you’re not running too hard.

By sticking to this rule, you’ll build your aerobic endurance based on the right foundation, and this will set you up for success later on.

The only exception to this rule is when doing any sort of speed work training. Speedwork includes sprints, fartleks, hill reps, or racing. These are not moves you should concern yourself within the early stages of your training.

  1. Run For More

After three to four weeks of using the run/walk method, start lengthening your running segments until you can run at a comfortable pace for 30 minutes straight.

Depending on your fitness level and training consistency, this may take you a while. But if you stick with it long enough, you’ll get there.

Once you can run for 30 minutes straight without much trouble, feel free to take your running to the next level. That’s when you’re going to start seeing some amazing results.

Once you’ve increased your running time to an hour or more, you will be in good enough shape that you’ll be able to sign up for 5k races, do interval or hill training, and much more.

  1. Avoid The Rueful Toos

Runners who do too much too soon without giving their body enough time to adapt to their new training load will eventually run into trouble. It’s one of the most common mistakes beginners make.

Don’t fall into the trap of “too much, too soon, too often, too fast, with too little rest.” Instead, build a solid base of easy, short, aerobic distances before you up the ante with speed, distance or hill training.

Even if you feel like you can do more during the first few months of training, rein that temptation in. The temporary sense of accomplishment you might get is not worth the risk of a painful injury or a burnout.

  1. Dynamic Warm-up

A good warm-up is the backbone of effective training, especially when doing hard, intense runs such as interval sessions or hill runs.

Warming up the right way can improve your performance as well as reduce the risk of injury.

Here’s a simple routine you can try.

Do at least ten reps of each exercise below for two to three rounds.

  • High kicks
  • Lunge with a twist
  • Inchworms
  • Hip stretch with a twist
  • Butt kicks

Or check my full routine here.

  1. Cool Down Right

The cooldown is just as vital to your performance and fitness as the warm-up.

A proper cool down can help transition blood from the working muscles to the normal resting flow, but when you stop on the spot, blood can start to pool in the legs and feet, leading to dizziness, vertigo, and discomfort in some people.

Here’s how to cool down properly. Jog or walk for at least 5 to 10 minutes (depending on your training intensity). Then do some post-run strength, mobility, and stretching exercises.

  1. Stretch After Your Runs

The benefits of stretching are a hotly debated topic in both the scientific and running world, but I still recommend stretching as a way of preventing injury and improving performance.

Here a few benefits of stretching:

  • Improves muscular coordination
  • Reduces lower back pain
  • Enhances posture
  • Alleviates post-run soreness
  • Increases range of motion

Whatever you do, don’t stretch before a run like we used to do in high school gym class. Studies show that static stretching before a workout can compromise performance and may lead to injury (think muscle tears).

Aim to stretch for at least 10 to 20 minutes after a workout, focusing on the main running muscle groups including the hips, the glutes, the hamstrings, the quads, and the calves.

Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, and breathe deeply into your stretch to release any tension or discomfort.

  1. Learn Lexicology

As you get more into running, sooner or later you’re going to run into some technical jargon. As is true in most sports, running has its own verbiage that you need to get good at if you’re going to be serious about calling yourself a runner.

In other words, you have to talk the talk.

Here is my full list of running jargon, where you’ll find more than 160 definitions of most common running terms.

  1. Have a Plan

“If you fail to plan, then you’re planning to fail.”

That quote might sound like a cliche, but that does not make it any less true, especially when it comes to running. Following a training plan will help you remove the guesswork from your workout routine.

Pick a training plan. You can find an array of intricate plans online, with something for everyone. All in all, the best plan is a well-rounded plan, whether you’re a recreational runner doing it for health and fitness or an elite marathoner hoping to optimize your performance.

Include the following five elements in your training program:

  • Interval workouts
  • Tempo runs
  • Hills runs
  • Long runs (or LSDs)
  • Easy run (for recovery).
  1. Add a Long Run

Longs runs are vital for training. They increase stamina, build proper form, burn mad calories and will get you in tip-top running shape for any race or distance. And adding long runs into a running plan is not that complicated.

After at least six months of regular training, increase your longest running session—typically, your weekend workout—by up to 10 percent from one week to the next. Keep doing this until you’re running for two and a half to three hours.

Do your long runs at approximately 60 to 70 percent of your 5K pace—that should be a comfortable pace. To make sure you’re doing LSD runs right, do a quick talk test whenever you feel you might be working too hard.

  1. Speed Work

Whether you’re looking to outpace your running buddy or aiming to beat your current PB at a given distance, speedwork is the way to go. It can also increase your range of motion, improve your conditioning, burn mad calories and build muscle mass, all of which can make you a stronger and fitter runner.

Here are the main speedwork sessions you need to add to your training schedule:

  • Classic 200m sprints
  • Tabata sprints
  • 400m laps around a track
  • Short and medium hill sprints
  • Fartlek sprints

As a rule, aim for quality over quantity. Speedwork should account for no more than 20 percent of your weekly total mileage.

  1. Sprint

Long sessions have their benefits, but to take your running to the next level, sprinting is of the utmost importance.

A form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), sprinting can help you burn three times more calories than steady-state running. According to studies, it also boosts your metabolism and helps develop killer lower body strength and speed.

What I really like about sprinting is that it takes just half an hour to complete an entire session. What’s not to love?

Here’s how to proceed:

Start with a proper warm-up. Do five minutes of slow jogging followed by dynamic movements such as knee circles, inchworms, lateral lunges and walking lunges.

Then go for your first sprint, running at 70 percent of your top speed for 30 seconds. Take a minute to recover and then do it again, running your next sprint at 80 percent of your max effort.

Shoot for eight to ten sprints, then finish off the workout with a decent cooldown. Jog slowly for five minutes, then stretch your whole lower body.

  1. Tempo Run

Also known as lactate threshold, LT, or threshold runs, tempo workouts are faster-paced runs that are vital for boosting metabolic fitness.

The primary purpose for tempo runs is to increase your lactate threshold level, the point at which the body fatigues at a certain pace.

As a general rule, your tempo workouts should feel comfortably hard. A good example is a comfortably hard and sustained 3- to 4-mile run.

Here’s how to proceed:

For a five-mile tempo workout, start by warming up with a 5-minute slow jog, then run a mile at 20 seconds slower than your half-marathon pace.

For the remainder of the workout, pick up the pace every mile by five to 10 seconds until you’re running the final mile 20 seconds faster than your half marathon pace.

  1. Tackle the Hills

Hills build leg strength, boost lung capacity, improve running form and reduce the rate of injury. For these reasons and more, do not avoid hill workouts, but make sure you train using proper form. Your uphill running should mimic your sprinting form.

Here’s how:

  • Run tall, with your core engaged and your back flat. Do not lean forward.
  • Engage your hamstrings, quads, and glutes on the way up. Make sure to push from the hip while engaging your entire lower body to get up the hill.
  • Feel free to walk on the steepest sections of any given hill.
  1. Train Negative

If you want to improve your running speed/time, practice negative splitting. This means running the second half of your session a bit faster than the first.

In the ideal negative split run, once you reach the midpoint of the workout each mile gets increasingly faster than the last. As long as you finish the last mile faster than the first, you’re in a good place.

Here’s an example of a 4-mile session:

After a thorough warm-up, run your first two miles at an easy and controlled pace—shoot for 15 to 30 seconds slower than your average pace for that distance. Once you’ve reached the midpoint, pick up your speed to a 10K or 5K pace, then switch to maximum speed for the last 100 to 200 feet of your run.

  1. Try Fartleks

Fartlek is a Swedish term that means speed play. It’s a non-structured form of interval training developed in the early 1930s.

The primary purpose of a fartlek workout is to increase your speed and endurance in the most unpredictable and playful way possible.

Here’s how to proceed:

Start your workout with a 10-minute warm-up jog, then sight an object in the distance: it can be a tree, a parked car, or a building. Run towards it fast. Once you reach it, slow down and recover. Sight the next object and repeat.

Whatever you do, make it random. Make it fun.

  1. Try Tabata Protocol Runs

Made famous by a 1996 study by Dr. Izumi Tabata and his colleagues, the Tabata protocol is a very specific method of interval training proven to shed body fat and increase performance.

A session consists of twenty seconds of maximum burst (max effort/max reps) followed by ten seconds of recovery.

To do Tabata, sprint for 20 seconds at full speed, then rest for 10 seconds.

You can also up the ante by adding in some bodyweight exercises to make the workout more challenging.

Here’s a simple Tabata protocol to try.

  • Set 1: Sprint at a moderate pace for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Set 2: Do as many push-ups as possible in 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Set 3: Sprint for another 20 seconds at max speed. Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Set 4: Do as many squats as possible in 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Set 5: Sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds.

Rest for two minutes and repeat the whole circuit twice.

  1. Cross Train

Cross training is vital for runners because it can help prevent overuse injuries such as runner’s knee, ITBS, shin splints, and stress fractures, as well as lower back issues, hip, joint and knee pain.

Cross training can also boost your speed, increase your stride length, improve your running form and boost your overall fitness and health level.

Here are eight super-effective training methods to try:

  • Yoga
  • Cycling
  • Weight training
  • CrossFit
  • Swimming
  • Jumping rope
  • Rowing
  1. Get Explosive

Plyometric training, also known as explosive or jump training, is another excellent cross-training method that research shows can increase running speed and power.

This type of training requires a fast and forceful recruitment of muscles fibers through high velocity, dynamic moves. These are key for building explosive power both on and off the running field.

Here’s a list of some of the best explosive exercises for runners:

  • Squat jumps
  • Box jumps
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Burpees

Here’s my full guide to plyometric training.

  1. Practice Planking

The core is made up of the muscles that connect the upper and lower body. It includes the glutes, lower back, hip, and abdominal muscles.

Your core muscles work in tandem to hold your torso upright and provide stability for your entire kinetic chain while running. That’s why you MUST do a core strengthening routine two to three times a week.

One of the best exercises for runners is the good old planks. I cannot recommend these enough. In addition to building up your core, they’ll also help develop endurance and strength in the shoulders, arms, and back.

Check the following tutorial to help you build and keep good plank form.

  1. Test Yourself

To improve your running, you MUST measure it — otherwise, you’ll have no idea whether you’re progressing.

The best way to measure your fitness progress is to test it.

Check my full guide to fitness testing here.

Here are the main tests you should be taking on a monthly basis:

  • The 400m sprint
  • The one-mile run
  • The Cooper 12-minute test
  • A 5K distance run
  • A 10K distance run
  1. Build the Habit

There’s are few things that feel worse than falling off the fitness wagon after investing so much time into building the right foundation.

That’s why even once you’ve reached your fitness goals, you have to keep your training program going strong. Quit or slack off, and you risk undoing all your hard work—and you don’t want that.

To stay consistent with your new running routine, make sure you turn it into a habit.

Here’s how:

  • Use a calendar and book your running sessions the same way you schedule an important family event or work meeting. If you create a sense of urgency and importance around your run, you’re more likely to carry through.
  • Start running with a friend or training partner. This will boost your motivation and add a sense of accountability to your program. This is vital for consistency.
  • Resolve to run at least three to four times a week for the upcoming 8 to 12 weeks. Do what you have to do never to miss a session.

For my guide on habit formation, check this post.

  1. Set Goals

When it comes to running, it’s vital to have something to work towards regardless of your training aspirations.

Whether your goal is weight loss, improved performance, stress relief, or anything else, having a set of goals creates a benchmark of progress as well as a sense of accomplishment once you start achieving them. I cannot overemphasize the importance of goal setting—even if it’s something you’ve never consider doing before.

Setting goals is what helped me go from being a complete couch potato to becoming a consistent runner, so please start setting fitness goals.

Here’s the golden rule of good goal setting:

Make your goals S.M.A.R.T., And that’s an acronym that stands for Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Realistic; and Time-related.

For my in-depth article on this topic, check my post here.

  1. Run With a Partner

Running is, by definition, a solitary sport and a solo journey, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Research shows that pairing up with a training buddy can lead to better consistency, help you become more accountable, and may even make you exercise a bit harder than you would when you run alone. All of these can do wonders for your running routine.

I’d go so far as to claim that training partners might be the most valuable tools you can have as a runner.

Ask a friend, a family member, a gym partner, or neighbor to run with you.

If you can’t find a suitable partner among people you know, join a local running group or hunt for one online.

  1. Chart Your Progress

As I’ve already stated, if you can’t measure it you can’t improve it.

That’s why I keep stressing the importance of monitoring your progress (or lack thereof, for that matter).

Keep a written log of your running routine. You don’t need anything fancy – a standard training journal, a spiral notebook or a plain notepad will suffice.

Here are some of the things and factors you need to keep track of:

  • Your running times
  • Your running distances
  • Your heart rate (and its fluctuations)
  • Calories burned
  • Running routes
  • Aches, pains, and injuries
  • Cross training workouts and reps
  • Body weight
  • Body measurements

Use Excel spreadsheets to create simple charts for tracking your progress.

You can also keep tabs on your progress online using sites like MapMyRun, DailyMile.com, or RunKeeper.

  1. Run To And/Or From Work

Finding balance between everyday life obligations, work chores, and a running routine is no easy feat. This is especially the case if you’re already burning the candle at both ends.

Instead of running to catch up with the train or a bus, try running to or from work. Put your commute time to good use. But whatever you do, make sure you do the following two things:

First, plan your run-commute thoroughly. Have everything ready the night before, from clothes to shoes, hydration and more.

Second, invest in the right backpack. You might need to think this one through before you make a buying decision. Your pack should be runner-friendly and must not bounce with every step.

  1. Reward Yourself for Your Successes

Rewards are positive reinforcement, and can be a powerful motivator.

When you reach a certain benchmark or achieve a given goal, treat yourself for the hard work you’ve put in and what you’ve accomplished.

Here are some ideas:

  • Buy a new running shirt or a pair of shorts
  • Have a meal at a nice restaurant
  • Watch your favorite Netflix show
  • Go on a special trip
  • Go to the movies
  • Take a long nap
  1. Try Zombies, Run!

For runners looking to turn their everyday workouts into an immersive adventure through a zombie-infested wasteland, look no further than this fantastic gaming app — especially if you’re running out of enthusiasm and need to add a bit of adventure and fun.

Zombies, Run! is an amazing audio adventure for thriller-seeking runners. Thanks to this game you’ll be the hero of your very own zombie adventure story. You’ll run through various missions while being chased by zombies, while also collecting the items you need to progress through the game.

Additional resource – How to Do a Run Streak

  1. Listen to the Right Music

Studies have linked listening to music to improved athletic performance, better training experience, and superior training consistency.

It’s not rocket science. All you need is the right playlist for the job.

Here’s the golden rule: when picking songs for your running playlist, stick with songs that have a BPM (Beat Per Minute) in the range of 120 to 140.

Here’s how:

You can do it manually, but it’s a real hassle. I don’t recommend this method unless you have a lot of time to spare.

Instead, check out websites that have already compiled thousands of songs and playlists tailored to all sorts of runs and events.

RunHundred.com and RunningPlaylist.Com are two of the best of these.

  1. Get Ready the Night Before

To set yourself up for running success, lay out your running gear the night before your workout. Doing so will help eliminate any barriers between you and your workout, save you a lot of time, and keep your mornings stress-free and smooth.

It should take you no more than 5 to 10 minutes to get these things together:

  • Your running clothes, including pants, socks, t-shirt, underwear, etc. (or sleep in them if you want to)
  • Your waterbottle
  • Your music playlist
  • Your pre-run snack
  • Your running route
  • Your workout
  1. Join Online Fitness Groups and Forums

Online health communities, whether they’re fitness groups, forums, social media website or some other type of group, are all great venues for expanding your social circle and connecting with like-minded fitness folks.

Joining up will help you increase your motivation and give you the push you need to exercise a little bit harder and stay consistent over the long haul.

Some of the best fitness-oriented online resources include:

  • Men’s Health
  • Runners World Forum
  • My FitnessPal
  • Fitbit
  • Cool Running
  • Jefit
  • BodySpace
  • Nerd Fitness
  • Transformative Fitness
  1. Race

Choose one of the many running-related events in your area, whether it’s a fun local 5K race, an obstacle race course, or a serious half-marathon or marathon distance challenge, and pay your registration fees in advance to keep yourself accountable.

Just make sure that the race fits your fitness level and schedule. If you’ve never done any sort of running before, spend a few months preparing for the race and make it a shorter distance such as a 5K or 10K run.

  1. Change The Direction of Your Runs

If you run the same route day in day out, sooner or later you’re going to get bored, and that’s when you’re most likely to slack off. It’s bad for your consistency and overall training experience, so switch up your running route regularly.

The simplest way to do this is to run your typical route backward every other week.

Don’t like this idea?

For another option, use crowd-sourcing apps like MapMyRun or a web resource like WalkJogRun to find and discover new routes close to where you live.

  1. Run in The Morning

Becoming a morning runner was a true godsend for me. It helped me stay consistent and become the runner I’m today.

As a bonus, research shows that those who exercise first thing in the morning are more consistent and efficient than the folks who work out later in the day.

Morning runs can improve your mood, boost productivity, shed more calories, and increase your focus and energy for the rest of the day, so if it’s all possible, run first thing in the morning.

Here are the golden rules:

  • Prepare the night before by laying your workout gear out
  • Aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep
  • Place your alarm clock far away from your bed to force yourself to get up and out
  • Drink plenty of water and have a light pre-run snack before you head out the door
  1. Work on your Running Form

Proper training form is king, whether you’re lifting weights in the gym or circling the running track. The right technique can help reduce your risk of injury and make your workouts more efficient.

Run with bad form, and you’re risking all sorts of strains, aches, pains, and injuries.

Here’s how to build good form:

  • Run tall.
  • Prevents neck strains by keeping your head straight and your eyes straight ahead. Don’t look down at your feet.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed, back, and down. Don’t let them tense up toward your ears.
  1. Lean Forward

This is something I learned from the Chi Running method, and I’ve found it to be very helpful.

Instead of running with a upright posture, run with a slight forward lean of about 8 to 10 degrees. By doing so, your body falls forward with every step, which in theory helps propel you forward and increases your stride turnover.

Mastering the forward lean is more easily said than done. One major mistake I see many runners make is leaning from the waist. Running this way can put a lot of undue pressure on the lower back and slows you down.

Instead, lean from the ankles while engaging your core muscles and keeping your spine straight, allowing for no bending in the waist.

  1. Keep Your Body Relaxed

As a runner, tension is enemy number one. It wastes energy, triggers bad form and can compromise the quality of your workout, leading to premature fatigue and increasing the risk of injuries.

Check your form throughout your run, allowing no chance for tension to creep into your workout.

Here are the few hacks that can help:

  • Shake your arms and hands every couple of miles and try rolling your neck forward, backward, and to the sides.
  • Imagine you’re holding an egg in each hand, gently cupping your palm with your thumb resting on your fingers instead of clenching your fist.
  • Breathe deeply and consciously, letting go of tension and discomfort. You have to get good at catching yourself in the act, and that requires practice.
  1. Pump Your Arms

As a runner, you’re, mainly relying on your legs to propel you forward, but that’s not the whole story. Your arms can help too.

Research shows that opting for a strong arm swing has a drastic impact on the smoothness of your running gait, resulting in a reduced workload on your legs and an increase in your economy of motion.

To boost your endurance and speed, drive your arms in a fluid motion, forward and backward, aiming for a 90- to 100-degree bend at the elbows. Do not pump your arms across the midline of your body—doing so wastes energy and tires your muscles. It might also hinder the forward motion of your body.

Your elbows should swing anywhere between the waistline and chest.

  1. Kill the Bounce

Research shows that vertical oscillation (running with a bounce) has an enormous negative impact on running economy and speed.

When your body is moving up and down too much, you’re wasting a lot of energy and putting undue pressure on your lower body, especially your quads. This leads to premature fatigue and soreness.

Here’s how to keep it under control:

  • Imagine you’re running under a low roof hovering a few inches above your head. Do not hit your head on the ceiling.
  • Land with your foot almost directly below your knees. Do not let your foot land in a spot ahead of your knee.
  • Focus on a faster leg turnover by running lightly and landing softly on your foot. Think quick steps. Focus on keeping your feet under your knees.
  1. Shorten Your Stride

When you overstride your foot lands on the ground well ahead of your hips. This runs the risk of increasing the stress load on your lower body. It also creates a braking effect that can hinder performance.

So, what’s the solution?

It’s simple: shorten your stride. Doing so helps reduce the braking effect and encourages a smoother, more natural running gait.

Here’s how:

  • To cover more ground, focus on springing off rather than trying to lengthen your stride.
  • Think short, light foot strikes and keep shortening your normal stride until you reach the perfect running cadence.
  • Keep your knee positioned above your foot and keep your shin vertical as your foot strikes the ground below you.
  • To boost speed, increase your leg turnover, driving your leg back from the hips instead of reaching forward with your foot.

All of this may sound a little complicated, but with a little of practice you’ll be able to wrap your head around it in no time.

  1. Increase your Cadence

In running lexicology, running cadence stands for the number of steps you take per minute while running.

When it comes to improving speed, cadence is a vital factor. Opting for the proper cadence reduces the impact of stress on your feet, knees, and ankles, and improves running economy.

According to Jack Daniels (the legendary running guru), the optimal cadence for running is roughly 170 to 180 steps per minute.

Your cadence doesn’t have to be exactly 180 throughout your training — in fact, your racing cadence and easy training cadence shouldn’t be the same.

  1. Breathe Rhythmically

Rhythmic breathing is a form of synchronized breathing that consists of timing your breaths to your foot strikes. The right breathing ratio depends mostly on your current fitness level and training intensity.

So how do you pick the right ratio?

If you’re a complete beginner, start with a 3:3 ratio. This means that you breathe in on three steps—RIGHT foot, LEFT foot, RIGHT foot, then breathe out on the next three steps—LEFT foot, RIGHT foot, LEFT foot.

Using this pattern, you will be taking in roughly 25 to 30 breaths per minute.

This ratio is also ideal for easy (and recovery) runs.

If you feel like this is too slow for you, opt for a 3:2 ratio: inhale on the RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT foot strikes, then exhale on the LEFT, RIGHT foot strikes.

A 2:2 ratio is ideal for when you’re running a tempo pace, or whenever you need more of a push. For the most part, this means cruising at roughly your 10K race pace, or maybe a bit slower. For quality workouts, opt for a 2:1 or even 1:1 ratio.

Here’s my full guide to proper rhythmic breathing while running.

  1. Breathe Deeply

To improve performance and stamina, cultivate the habit of diaphragmatic breathing.

Most runners are chest breathers. That’s neither the most efficient nor the healthiest way to breathe while running. Chest breathing increases the risks of hyperventilation and reduces your intake of oxygen while running.

The good news is that by switching to deep breathing you get more oxygen into your bloodstream. This can boost lung power as well while reducing the risk of side stitches.

  1. Downhill Running

As the saying goes, what goes up must come down. That’s why you should never forget the importance of downhill running.

On the descent, proper form can improve your performance and reduce post-workout soreness—especially in the quads.

Here’s the right way to run downhill:

  • Stay upright, keeping your posture perpendicular to the ground beneath you. Do not lean back or overstride, as doing so creates a braking action. The only exception is on the steepest grades.
  • Brace your core to keep control over your body and the hill. Don’t let the hill control you on the way down.
  • Do not look straight down. Look ahead while focusing on the line you wish to follow for balance.
  • Increase your cadence, aiming for quick, light steps and fast leg turnover.
  1. Let Go of the Handles on the Treadmill

When you’re running on a treadmill, holding onto the handles may help when fatigue starts to set in, but doing so will compromise your overall workout.  Positioning your hands on the handles aligns your body in an abnormal way, leading to discomfort and even injury, especially in the hips, lower back, knees, and shoulders.

Instead of touching the equipment, swing your arms backward and forward while engaging your core. This will not only help you keep good form, but will also engage your core, give you a full body workout, and burn more calories.

  1. Have a Pre-run Meal (or Snack)

The main goal behind a pre-run meal is to give you a boost of energy without giving you a troubled stomach on the road.

For a proper pre-run meal, focus on high-quality carbs and low-fiber, low-fat foods.

Make sure you time your pre-run meals correctly. Timing is the most critical variable in the pre-run meal equation.

As a general guideline, if you have an hour or more before a run, you can eat at least 250 to 300 calories worth of food. If you’ve no more than half an hour before a run then eat no more than 140 calories worth. This is frequently the case if you’re running early in the morning but don’t want to go out the door on an empty stomach.

  1. Post-Run Eating

The foods you consume immediately following a run are crucial for optimizing recovery and energy renewal.

Your post-run meal should score high on protein to help repair muscles and speed up recovery. You should also take in good carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores and get your body ready for your next run.

Here are three of my favorite post-workout meals:

  • Chocolate milk. The mix of carbohydrates (chocolate) and protein (milk) is just right for refueling your weary body. In fact, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming chocolate milk after a workout can increase muscle protein synthesis.
  • Fruit salad. Fruit will not only help you replenish your energy stores with needed energy, but it will also help break down nutrients. Plus, the mix of fruits delivers a healthy punch of enzymes—anti-inflammatory properties that speed up recovery.
  • Egg whites deliver a healthy punch of proteins and key amino acids, which can help you rebuild damaged tissues after strenuous exercise.
  1. Hydrate Properly

Dehydration can lead to all sorts of serious issues such as headaches, premature fatigue, muscle cramping, decreased coordination, heat exhaustion, and more.

To keep it at bay, drink plenty of water, regardless of whether the weather is cold or warm. As a general rule, you need at least 12 to 16 glasses of water a day.

Please take note that the previous rule isn’t written in stone. The exact amount of water you need depends on many variables, including your age, body weight, gender, fitness level, training distance/intensity, sweat rate, physiology, and outdoor temperature.

One way or another, I highly recommend that you stay well hydrated throughout the day.

  1. Look At Your Pee

I hate to sound like a broken record, but research shows that dehydration can lead to decreased performance, premature fatigue, seizures, blood clots, and even death.

To check for signs of dehydration, look at your pee. You should be drinking enough water throughout the day for your urine to be a light straw color, or mostly clear with a tinge of yellow.

If your urine looks like chardonnay, or is yellow or orange, then you’re dehydrated and need to be drinking a lot more.

Additional resource – How to Stop urine leakage in runners

  1. Get More Iron

Iron is a vital component of the body’s red blood cells. Blood cells contain hemoglobin, and are crucial for transporting oxygen to your body’s various muscles and tissues. Iron deficiency leads to a reduction in hemoglobin level, which in turn hinders proper oxygen delivery.

Some of the best food sources for iron include egg yolks, lean meat, dark green leafy vegetables, lean meats, dried fruits, legumes, and whole grains. You can also go for iron-enriched or fortified cereals and bread.

To improve absorption, consume iron-rich foods with vitamin C like orange juice.

  1. Have a Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are runner-friendly beverages that score high on both carbohydrates and electrolytes. These two nutrients are vital for staying well fueled and hydrated during intense aerobic activity.

Aim for taking in at least 30 to 50 grams of carbs for each hour spent running, but keep in mind that 8 ounces of a typical sports drink might contain roughly 16 grams of carb. During a long run, aim for taking in 4 to 6 ounces of fluid for every 20 to 30 minutes spent running.

Some of the best brands include Gatorade, HEED, PowerBar Perform, and GU Roctane.

If money is an issue, then the next tip will come in handy

  1. Make your Own Sports Drink

I make my own sports drinks using whole foods and natural ingredients, and I love it. By doing so, I’m saving a lot of money while choosing a healthier path by going for more natural, whole ingredients.

For the icing on the cake, making your