You may laugh when I tell you that running used to never be my thing. Like, ever. I was a dancer all throughout high school, and then before that? Well. Nothing really. The occasional sport just because it was fun and all my friends did it, but I never worked out to “work out”. Actually, it wasn’t until my freshman year of college that that became a thing I did. Maybe you’re different and grew up in a family that did outdoorsy things or one who’s every weekend was scheduled with tournaments and games..or maybe not. I think working out with the goal of sustaining our health is something that we start doing at all stages of life depending on who you are. For me, it wasn’t until I needed to change some new unhealthy bad habits that were catching up to me, but for you, it may be different.
So wherever you are in your health journey right now, something in this title caught your eye. And before we get into the nitty-gritty of all the running extravaganza, let me say one thing: YOU can do it. Don’t get discouraged or overwhelmed, because we all start somewhere, even if that means where that may be is starting over, again. When it comes to running, and anything else for that matter. You can do it.
Flash forward 6 something years and my non-runner, hated-running-dancer self has now ran 3 half marathons, a duathalon, a triathlon, and countless fun runs. AND now I love running - but still, not always. Talking to some friends, I noticed I wasn’t the only one who felt the same way towards running. Can we all say “love-hate relationship?” So I decided to put this list together because these are the things I often find myself tuning in on when it comes to running. These things help keep me motivated, focused, and successful in my runs. Because I have taken many breaks from running, I have found that time and time again, these are what tend to get me re-interested in the sport.
Running. I have loved it and then I have hated it, and.. you know how that can go. It’s life. The important thing is to keep moving forward, and I know that and even struggle myself doing so sometimes, but these are what helps and what I hope helps you too.
Whether you are new to running, starting to get back into it once again, or just want some food for thought or motivation for your next workout, here are some of my go-to running tips and advice:
Run in a place you either enjoy or is new to you. When I enjoy my surroundings, I am able to direct my mind from the fact that I am actually running. Also, when I don’t know where I am, the new scenery totally excites me and also distracts me. This is especially helpful when I get bored on longer runs that start to get hard and tiring.
Shoulders down, posture right. Sometimes I notice that I pump my arms so much during my runs because I get so focused on going harder or faster that my shoulders tend to get tense and I start to hold them up by my neck. When this happens, I take a second to remind myself to just chill. When this happens, I will slow my pace or stop to walk and I will let my hand grip loosen, shake out my arms (looks funny but helps), and gently stretch my neck from side to side. Once I feel a more relaxed, I will continue to run. This helps a ton and will reboot your focus again.
Run every day, or as often as possible. Okay, maybe it isn’t realistic to run every day for you, or even every other day, but the key here is the point of making it out to run OFTEN. And I do mean often. The more breaks we take from running, the harder it will continue to be. So if you want your running endurance to grow and distance to grow with it, I do suggest running at least 3- 4 days a week. Now if you are not wanting to do that but do want to keep your endurance (like myself these days), maybe 2-3 runs a week will do it for you. Ultimately, running only one time here and one time there just won’t do it. You need to do it often if you want running to get better, just like anything else.
Focus on your breathing. When people think cardio we think hard breathing, am I right? Well, just like yoga and every other workout, focusing on how you breathe is important for success. So when you are running, the thing here is not to focus on your breath reps or timing, but to focus on quality and consistency. Breathe with your stomach, and breathe slowly and continuously. When we breathe fast, our heart rate will also start to be fast, faster than it may already be with you running. Also, sometimes with all that’s going on, I find myself not breathing consistently, and sometimes, I will even catch myself holding my breath. That’s why it is important to focus on breath. Not only will it help get your mind off of running, but it will help you get better at it too.
Enjoy what you’re listening to. Whether you’re a music junkie or can run in the sound of your surroundings, the important thing here is that you enjoy it. For myself, I have made a couple playlists that have songs that have a fast beat and get me all riled up and excited to listen to. They also have a fast beat to where I will even try to match my strides with their beat to keep going. When I was half marathon training though and listening to these for hours playlists daily, I ended up getting bored, so I turned to podcasts to listen to instead. THIS was a game changer for me in my longer runs!
Don’t run on a full or empty stomach. Food is fuel. Lets say that again. Food is fuel. You need to eat to be successful in your runs, and just simply to stay healthy while running. The thing here though is what and when, and I find that this is a personal preference type thing, so I suggest you play around and see what works best for you. For myself, I run better in the 1-2 hours right before a main meal time, aka right before I am going to start feeling hungry. I definitely always make a point to have eaten something at least more than 2 hours before my runs because I have ran in the past without eating and it has been miserable. Typically, I will eat something that is easy to digest, and it is usually a snack.
Never get bored. The instant you get bored with running is the instant your motivation and desire to run starts to go downhill. Continue to shake things up when it comes to your runs. If this list didn’t give you some ideas, try asking some of your friends or family to run with you for company, join a local run club, sign up for an event for motivation, ask the trainers at your gym what ways keep them motivated, etc. The more you enjoy your runs, the more you will want to run.