As spring racing season looms on the horizon, I am finding myself feeling optimistic. The feeling that comes just before a new training plan begins is always one of my favorites. Prior to each training plan, I feel fresh, excited, and ambitious. As each new running season begins, my hope is to accomplish new goals, become stronger, and remain healthy. My love for running is at it’s peak, and I feel most motivated to incorporate all my running tips.
As running excitement reaches new heights, one of my favorite things to do is look back on where I started. Running has been with me through so many different seasons of my life. I think back on the previous races, different environments, and training plans that have brought many highs and numerous lows.
While the year is still fresh, I am reminding myself to focus on the important aspects of the sport. Whether I am on the brink of a PR or just starting again after a break, I love the basics. Why I started, how I’ve continued, and what I’ve done in training to lead to success.
Through each different phase in running, I have learned something that has stuck with me. As I analyze each success I keep a list of the things that have helped me the most, both mentally and physically. Here are the top 10 on my list to help you, whether you are a beginner or seasoned pro.
The 10 Best Running Tips
Whether you are just beginning with a 5 minute run, or training for a marathon, consistency is always #1 in my running tips. It doesn’t matter how far you run when you get out there, but make sure you get out there consistently. Skipping runs for long periods of time makes it ten times harder to get back at it. You lose motivation and get discouraged because progress seems stagnant.
Write down the reason you want to run.
This reason may change throughout your running career, but writing it down and having it somewhere that you can see is key. When running feels hard or motivation is low, reading through the reason you started will give you an extra boost.
Don’t forget about recovery.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the running aspect of running – which is definitely the most fun part. Rewarding yourself for completing a run by settling on the couch is so tempting, but won’t help you get better. Include time for stretching, foam rolling and strengthening in your running plan. These little things may feel like a pain after already running 4 miles, but dedicating just a few minutes to them will help you improve much quicker. Sometimes the most important running tips don’t involve running at all!
Be aware of your cadence.
Your cadence is one of the most important weapons in preventing injury, but so often overlooked. When I first started running I ran with a longer stride, as that’s what I imagined most runners did. I wound up with a major heel strike, and once I started training consistently, ended up in physical therapy twice in one year. Most running watches and apps have a section that keeps track of cadence, so it’s easy to check in. The ultimate cadence is around 180 bpm, so check in frequently and see if you need to shorten your stride to speed things up.
Don’t overdo the speed work.
If you’re just beginning or training for a big goal, it’s easy to get focused on your goals and want to do everything you can to accomplish them. Incorporating speed work more than once or twice a week will eventually lead to injury. Dedicate one day a week for those speedy runs, and spend the rest of your days running at a pace which is comfortable to talk.
Take the time to find a great running shoe.
Everyone’s bodies are different, so just because your friend recommended these really great shoes doesn’t mean they will work for you. Similarly, just because the shoes were really expensive doesn’t mean they are going to be the best fit. Take time to either get fitted in a running store or experiment with different kinds before intense training begins. Finding the right pair of shoes will help make running more comfortable and prevent injuries from popping up.
Increase your water intake.
Most of my worst runs come at times when I am dehydrated. Whether I chose sugary drinks for dinner the night before, or just drank less water than usual, I can always tell as soon as my run begins. The goal is to drink half your body weight in ounces, which can sometimes seem a bit ridiculous, but if you stick to it you will definitely notice a difference in your runs.
Find a routine that works for you.
I don’t know about you, but I am most likely to skip a run or workout when I try to fit it into an already jam packed point in my day. Be realistic about the times you will be able to workout. If you have an hour lunch break and have a 50 minute run planned, you probably won’t be able to complete that run, cool down, and eat lunch in time to get back to work. Look through your schedule and find the times that work for you – whether that means waking up earlier or running after dinner, find a time that you’ll be able to stick with.
Set goals for yourself.
Whether it’s running for 10 minutes straight or completing an ultra-marathon, set a goal for yourself that is challenging yet attainable. Having a goal to work towards is so much more motivating, and provides you with a chance to celebrate your progress.
Pushing yourself is always tough the first time. Whether it’s a new distance or speed, it is not going to feel easy the first time. Persevere through the hard moments and continue to chip away at them. If running were easy, everyone would do it. It’s those tough moments that remind us what we’re made of, and give us the greatest satisfaction and endorphin rush.
Versatility is one of my favorite aspects of running. The fact that it can compliment just about anybody’s lifestyle is what makes it so unique. It doesn’t matter your location, shape, style, height, lifestyle or fitness level. Wherever you are in life – running is there for you. These running tips will get you started, but the quality of life you find once you start running is what will keep you going.