Friday, July 5, 2013

25 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Run

By NO stretch of the imagination am I a professional runner.  
These are just some things I have learned in my time spent running that have helped me,
And I thought I would share with you!


1.  Have the right gear

 as with anything, you need the proper tools to get a job done right.  in this case you will need some running shoes.  the proper footwear is
ESSENTIAL to running and running well.  Also I suggest some good dry-wicking socks and attire.  Make sure that you are comfortable in the gear you wear, chafing is a run killer, plain and simple.  Additional gear suggestions: sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a wrist watch with stopwatch function, pedometer {I use the fitbit zip, I adore it!}, etc.

2.  Schedule

 Planning a run either in a planner or setting an alarm on your phone is a great way to keep yourself of track.  Also if you have it written down somewhere that at a certain time you are going, then it makes it that much harder to back out of it.

3.  Turn that "I don't wanna" into an "I'm gonna".  

Without a doubt, the time you need to run most is when you say that you don't want to.  Make it a rule that even if you don't wanna, you're gonna.  

4.  Watch Technique Videos.  

Check out this video recommended to me by my friend Deedra.  They cover a lot of bases and it can really only help you in this journey.  

5.  Start Strong.  

Don't overdo it in the beginning of your run, but don't underdo it either.  Start at a comfortable, yet strong pace.  take this time when you are not tired yet to really focus on your form and set the stage for yourself.  Teach your body this good form at the beginning of your run and it will turn into your "home base".

6.  Use it as a mood enhancer.  

treat it that way!  Somedays when I am feeling crummy or when I'm just plain grumpy, I treat running like a mood elevator, I know I will feel better once those endorphins get going so I take my "happy pill" {aka Running}.  

7.  Time Yourself

 Listen, You don't have to kill yourself working towards a whatever-minute-mile.  That's not what this tip is about.  It's about being able to monitor your own progress, you'll be able to try new techniques and see how your time changes and so on.  And it's a really awesome feeling to beat your time as your progress in your running!

8.  Tunes and/or No Tunes

 There are benefits to both, and honestly, its a hard choice to make for me personally.  With tunes I am more capable of getting in a groove and it makes me want to run longer because I don't get bored.  However, I was reading in last month's Psychology Today that the current excess of entertainment at our fingertips and our extreme short fuse for boredom is killing our creativity.  So it's nice to sometimes to leave the tunes at home and just go.  Listen to your breathing and your footfalls, cicadas, crickets, birds, the whole nine.  Then... get bored.  That's when the juices start flowing in that brain of yours, in fact, I wrote this post in my head today during my tunes-free run, so... booya.

9.  Set Goals, Then Surpass Them.  

A lot of times I will tell myself I am going a certain distance before I leave the house.  once I get out there I push myself, especially if I really get to cruisin'.  Tell yourself how far you are gonna go and then go just a little further than that.  it's nice to push yourself a little, and it is ammunition for a later run when you feel like you can't go any further.  

10.  Really Enjoy a good breeze

 Sometimes you'll go out and run and the wind will just be screaming in your face and other times you would just kill for even the tiniest breeze.  When you start to get overwhelmed or pooped, just focus on your surroundings.  When you do get a breeze, appreciate it.  Treat it like a little vacation.  

11. Run with Friends.  

Whether they be further ahead or behind where you are in your running/training, this is a great motivator and also a great chance to teach or be taught.  Learn new techniques and just generally enjoy some time with a friend and add a new dimension to your workouts.  

12.  Work the Downhill.  

One of the most awesome things my husband taught me about running was to make the downhill work for you.  if you just let the hill do the work you can take a little breather and still keep your pace.  Just imagine the gravity is pulling your feet down and go with it.  This is a wonderful trick, and too, if you speed up on the downhill it cuts down your time, still without being as much work!  Save that energy for when you've gotta go back up it!

13.  Keep Looking Forward.  

A LOT of having good form has to do with your posturing.  If you make a point not to slouch and keep your eyes forward it makes for a better run.  your body wants to perform better in that position.  I know, sometimes you have to look down to your feet to check that you aren't pronating, or to really dig deep and make it up that hill, but in general work towards keeping your eyes forward it helps to keep your form good and also keep your eyes on the prize, that finish line!

14.  It's mostly Mental.  

So much of working out and pushing yourself to new levels is really just about getting your mind in the right place.  I use little cheats to trick my brain into being ok with what I'm doing so it doesn't psych me out and make me stop. For instance, if you know that thinking ahead to your cool down makes you wanna stop early, then don't let it enter your mind until you actually get there!  Take what you know about yourself and apply it.  Use what you know to push yourself further.

14.  Feel it in your thighs, Time to fly! Feel it in your shins, start over again.  

Shin Splints are the bane of my existence.  (omgosh, I am such a poet!) This is a new rule of mine.  It took me quite some time to get to where I didn't have to ice my shins after every run.  It's hard to find your groove and keep finding it every run.  I started to realize that if it was burning that sweet burn in my thighs then I was in my zone, and i could just scoot my buns along, no hitches.  But on the occasions where it gets to hurting my shins I just stop, walk a couple paces and then start over.  Sometimes you have to stop completely to get it right instead of trying to fix it mid-run.  

15.  Flip the Script.  

A good trick that I use to keep myself from stopping because of soreness or tiredness of a certain muscle is visualizing a different muscle/muscle system and transfer the work to there.  This may sound weird or iffy, but hear me out.  Sometimes going up a hill kills my thighs will just be burning like the dickens, I don't want to stop, but it's killing me.  I imagine my buns taking over the job and doing the work of this uphill climb and if I think about it hard enough, the energy transfers to my buns instead of my thighs and I'm able to work myself harder.  It may sound odd, but give it a try next time something gets to burnin'.  

16.  Swing Those Arms.  

(Another awesome bit of advice from my husband, he's so brilliant!).  I used to get stitches.  like I'm talking debilitatingly obnoxious and horrible stitches.  every. single. run.  It was miserable.  I mean just.... UGH!  So my husband suggested that I was twisting my torso too much and keeping my arms too tight and tucked in to my body.  So, I proceeded to swing my arms more, it keeps my torso straight and works my shoulders and other arms muscles too.  My torso twists less, and I get fewer stitches.  Simple as that.  I love easy solutions. 

17.  Beat that b*tch of a stitch

 As I said above, this is a problem I have struggled with.  I finally got past shin splints, only to be plagued by incessant stitches!  WTH??  My first tip when approaching a stitch is to try to relax your body, I know this can be hard because it feels like the opposite of what you should do when feeling this kind of discomfort, but trust me, just try to relax your midsection while maintaining your form.  Next, start swinging those arms a little more to keep your torso straight.  Keep your eyes forward and your back straight to elongate your body.  If all of this doesn't work then give'r a pinch and keep moving!  that stitch is just that pissed off fat girl inside of you that wants you to fail.  So, tell her to shut up and keep running!

18.  Reach for that Second Wind.  

My husband swears up and down that the threshold for the second wind is around 40-45 minutes.  I know that seems crazy far for some of you, and frankly for me too, but your second wind threshold may come sooner than that, but you won't know until you reach for it.  If you can get there, then man, it is crazy.  You feel like you just started all over again and think of all the calories you're burning!  woohoo!

19.  Discomfort does NOT equal Pain.  

This is a hard thing to process in the midst of a run.  You're tired, you're sore, it's hot, your breathing is off, you're not in a groove, etc.  I get it.  All of that sucks.  But it isn't PAIN, it's just discomfort.  This is important to remind yourself of when you feel like stopping or walking, are you in pain??  No?  then keep going!  I think back to doing the Tough Mudder in April of this year (see that post here), If I could get through 11 miles and 20 some odd obstacles, soaking wet and covered in mud, and still live to tell the tale, then this run is nothin'!

20.  Make a motivational pinboard.  

AND ACTUALLY USE IT!  add it to your bookmarks, or your tool bar on your browser.  shoot, go so far as to make it your browser homepage.  Make a point to motivate yourself.  Motivation doesn't just happen to you, you have to manipulate it to work for you!  

21.  Make it a Habit.  

They say you only have to do something for about 3 weeks before it becomes a habit (although there is some debate).  ok.  Easy day.  make your plan, 3 days a week, 4, 5, 6 whatever, just commit and then ride it out.  stay committed, and stay strong.  Sometimes, believe it or not, the best runs end up being the ones you didn't want to take, or that you reluctantly forced yourself to do.  {Of course, it should go without saying that you should listen to your body and not overdo it.} 

22.  Sometimes you have to take a break.  

During a run sometimes you really do just need to stop for a minute and walk, no matter how hard you try, no matter how many of these tactics you attempt, sometimes, you just gotta take a minute, reassess and catch your breath.  The trick with this is setting a start back point;  look ahead on your path and say "ok, when I get to that light pole I'm gonna start running again." and stick to it, or even start before then just to prove something to yourself.

23.  Engage your core

 I know that sometimes the last thing on your mind when sweating your buns off is how tight your belly is.  In fact, if you are anything like me, you look pregnant when you reach the end of a run because you just don't have the energy to keep going AND try not to look like a beer-bellied-redneck while doing it.  I promise, this gets easier.  Keeping your belly sucked in and engaging your core while running takes practice, but I assure you it WILL get easier, and it will help you with your overall fitness and tone.  Also, it helps with your posture as well!  booya!

24.  Finish Strong.  

Something else my husband pushed me to do when we first started running together was to really push myself right at the end of a run.  This really came in handy during my first race ever, the Buzzard Blast 5k here in Louisville, I was so pooped, but I saw that finish line and remembered what he had been training me to do (much to my disdain at the time) and I applied it and finished before another couple of girls in my age group and got 3rd place!  All because he trained me to "turn on my boosters" right at the end. 

25.  Don't skip the Cool Down.  

The cool down is one of the most important parts about your run.  It keeps your heart rate from crashing and it continues to burn calories.  It helps your muscles to chill out and frankly, it just feels good.  Take a victory walk baby, you are a friggin' rock star, you just finished that run!  Booya!


I hope that this post has inspired you (I know that writing it sure motivated me!)
and maybe you learned a few things you hadn't thought of before!
Now is the part where you tell me what I have forgotten!

Do you have any tips and tricks that help you make the best of your run?


Bethany Kline said...

This post makes me miss running so bad! I really love running so much. I'm not great at it. But I've always pushed myself to do it. My dr said I could run whilst preggers, but only if I do 70% or less of my normal exertion... but I'm been to dang exhausted to even try. That's bad huh. I should push myself harder to exercise!

Bethany Kline said...

don't worry girl, You'll get past this super tired stage, and all of a sudden you'll be a mad man... or rather wo-man and you won't be able to sit still! you'll cleaning parts of your house you didn't know existing and running around like a maniac. Just look at it this way: all the sleep you are getting now is just to get you ready for all the sleep you aren't going to get. but Lord knows, it's so worth it. :-)

Bethany Kline said...

Thank you so much for these tips. Some of them I really needed. I often suffer from shin splints (usually when I'm really pushing myself and I'm tired) and I never thought to just stop and walk for a bit then start over again. It makes complete sense that I need to do this.

Bethany Kline said...

I am SO glad that I could be of some help! It's a really great way to kinda just reboot your method and the absolute best way to get a better rhythm! Let me know how these work out for you!


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