Just about every runner we know is fairly obsessed with the sport. We run because we love it, it brings us joy and helps us become a better version of ourselves. But that’s not to say that running doesn’t come with its fair share of struggles and frustrations.
These clever running hacks can help make running easier.
18 Clever Running Hacks Every Runner Should Know
Running Hack #1: Freeze your water bottle on its side.
There’s nothing quite as delicious as ice cold water in the middle of a hot run. But how is that possible when you’ve been running for an hour and holding your water bottle in your sweaty hand while it soaks in 90 degree heat?
That lukewarm drink of water isn’t nearly as satisfying mid-run. A simple way to keep your water cold throughout the entire way is to freeze your water with the bottle lying on its side. When you’re ready for your run, take the water bottle out of the freezer and fill the other half with cold water.
When you’re thirsty near the beginning of a run, you’ll be able to enjoy the water that you just added to the bottle. As time passes and the ice begins to melt, it will keep the water cold for much longer.
Running Hack #2: Split your long runs into smaller segments.
Just about every long run distance feels intimidating before you conquer it. Whether it’s running 8 miles for the first time or conquering your next 20 miler during marathon training, it’s usually hard to imagine yourself finishing a new distance.
One of the best ways to mentally manage the long run is to break it up into smaller, more familiar segments. For example, a 20 miler can be broken down into four different 5 milers. If you’re running on a trail, head out for 5 miles and then turn around, completing this stretch four times. If you’re running in your neighborhood, try running a familiar route a few times.
Having a few milestones to hit within the run will help breakdown the distance so you feel more confident about completing it. It often feels easier to wrap your head around running 5 miles four times than it does to think about running 20 miles.
Running Hack #3: Keep a daily training log.
Whether you love data or not, the simple act of keeping a record of your running and workouts is a great way to chart your progress and stay motivated.
There are many times where we feel as if we are stuck on a plateau – progress has slowed and our motivation is fading. During these times, a great strategy is to look back on older runs.
You might be surprised to discover that one year ago, you wrote that the easy mileage you now run every Wednesday felt like a tough challenge. You might find that your paces have improved, your weekly mileage has increased, or you are just running more efficiently in general.
Running Hack #4: Listen to podcasts or books on tape.
Listening to music is a popular way to pass time while working out, but it’s definitely not the only way. If your runs feel as if they are dragging on and on, another tactic you can use is to mix up what you are listening to.
Podcasts and stories are a great way to pass time and keep your brain engaged during a run. And while music certainly has the ability to pump us up, podcasts and books also provide a great source of inspiration during a run.
In addition, listening to a book or podcast during a run is a simple way to multitask. Find a podcast involving your line of work, a podcast from a fellow runner, a book you haven’t had the time to read, or any sort of inspirational content.
Running Hack #5: Make the family part of it.
Struggling to find the time to run? Feeling guilty about leaving your family again when you just get home from work? Rather than spending time apart, take the family on the run with you.
Whether this means bringing along the dog, running with your husband, pushing a stroller, or having your kids bike beside you – making running a family activity is easier (and often more fun) than you might expect.
Running Hack #6: Wash your clothes in the shower.
There is nothing quite like a regular running habit to really ramp up the amount of laundry you have to do. If you’re short on time or just sick of washing and folding laundry, trying jumping in the shower with your running clothes still on.
Rinse them off, soap them up if you’re feeling extra fancy, and then take them off to dry. You’ll fit your shower in after a run while also saving some clothes from heading to the laundry.
Running Hack #7: Tie your key to your shoe laces.
One of the best parts about running is that it requires very little equipment and gear. But this creates a problem when you have no choice but to take something with you on the run – such as a car key.
If you’re sick of holding your key or just worrying about it falling out of a pocket and getting lost on your run, try tying it to your shoe laces. You’ll secure the key with a knot and always be able to see that it is still with you.
Running Hack #8: Plant fuel and water bottles ahead of time.
Some runners just hate the thought of wearing a hydration belt or carrying extra weight with them for a long run. However, if you’re running far enough, fueling and hydrating along the way is a necessity.
If you’re planning a long run route by your home, heading out ahead of time and planting fuel or water bottles along the way may help alleviate some of the extra gear you’ll need to carry. Stash water bottles along the way in bushes, behind trees, or at bathroom stops you’ll be running by.
Arriving to a new water bottle every few miles takes away the extra effort it requires to carry some with you, which can be especially helpful for those long runs of marathon training.
Running Hack #9: Use the incline on the treadmill.
As much as we hate to admit it, treadmill running just isn’t the same as outdoor running. Regardless of whether you love the treadmill or hate it, spending all of your training on the treadmill can leave you unprepared for the varying elevations and terrain of an outdoor race.
If you’re stuck on the treadmill for some key training runs, trying adding an incline of 0.5 – 1.0%. This helps mimic outdoor running a bit better, so you’ll be as prepared as possible for your goal race.
Running Hack #10: Run hills for speed training.
It’s often said that hill running is “speedwork in disguise” – and for good reason. Try adding some weekly hill running to your training to increase muscle, endurance and stamina. Choose a short, steep hill for some repeats or simply plan your route along a hilly road.
Running Hack #11: Lace your shoes differently.
If you’re struggling with foot injuries or chronic foot or ankle pain, your lacing technique may be the culprit. Most of us get stuck with the standard lacing structure – never changing the way our shoes are laced.
However, there are a variety of ways you can lace your running shoes depending on the different issues you may be dealing with.
Check out a few different ideas here!
Running Hack #12: Slow down during easy runs.
Many runners head out each day to run the same paces without even thinking about it. They settle into their normal, comfortable pace and zone out.
While this is certainly a great way to de-stress and stay fit, most runners might be surprised to find out that they are actually running too fast.
When you’re training for a goal race or simply wanting to improve, slowing down your easy runs is crucial for long-term success. In general, your easy run pace should be about 90-120 seconds slower per mile than your goal pace.
Save the hard effort for tempo runs, race pace miles, intervals and various other speed workouts.
Running Hack #13: Focus on quality over quantity.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of running and increase your mileage in an attempt to improve. And while increasing mileage is certainly and important element of most training plans, especially for long distance races, keep in mind that quality miles always trumps quantity.
Running miles upon miles of easy paces will help you feel comfortable on race day, sure – but if you’re looking to really improve and nail that PR, it’s time to focus on the quality of each mile you run.
Make sure every run has a purpose – whether it’s a speed workout, easy run, hill run, long run, or anything in between. Get rid of those junk miles to avoid burnout and overtraining, and focus on fitting in few quality miles as opposed to a ton of junk miles.
Running Hack #14: Develop a mantra.
No matter how fit you become, running is hard. The beauty of our sport is that it continuously challenges you, regardless of how many goals you achieve.
When things get tough, our motivation often suffers and we question our purpose and love for the sport.
Developing a mantra is a great way to keep you going when things are tough. Whether you’re pushing through the final miles of a marathon, striding at new speeds during a 5k, or simply heading out after a long day of work – finding a motivating word or phrase to repeat to yourself will help you stay focused.
Write your mantra down in a journal, on your training plan, or keep it on your hand as you head out for your next run.
Running Hack #15: Develop a post-run routine that you love.
Regardless of how much we love the sport, our motivation is bound to falter at various points throughout training.
One way to ensure you stay motivated is to develop a post-run routine that you look forward to after each run. Find a breakfast that you love, take a relaxing bath, or spend time doing some yoga.
Take the time to create a routine involving activities that make you happy. When running feels tough, you’ll look forward to it just so you are able to get home and enjoy the cool down.
Running Hack #16: Stock up on gear at the end of the season.
High quality running gear is expensive – there’s no secret about it. Those sweat-wicking shirts and waterproof leggings often cost quite a bit more than we expect.
A clever way to avoid spending a ton on running gear is to stock up at the end of a season. Take advantage of the sales as the seasons change to stock up for next year.
You’ll find yourself with a brand-new wardrobe to try each running season, purchased at sometimes just half the price. This clever running hack is a simple way to ensure you have high quality gear without breaking the bank.
Running Hack #17: Tell yourself you can quit after 10 minutes.
Some days, we just don’t feel like running. We’re tired, the weather is bad, or we’ve had an exceptionally stressful day at work.
However, these are often the days we need running the most.
When you’re struggling to get out the door, tell yourself that it’s okay if you quit after 10 minutes. All you’re going to do is fit in a quick, 10 minute run instead of skipping all together.
More often than not, once you get going, you’ll be motivated to continue.
Running Hack #18: Sleep in your running clothes.
When early morning running is your only option, you can save valuable time by sleeping in your running clothes.
Luckily, most running clothes are designed for comfort, so you probably won’t even notice a difference from your PJs. Sleep in your leggings or shorts and tshirt so when you wake up, all you have to do is lace up your shoes and head out the door.
Regardless of how much we love the sport, running comes with its fair share of complications, frustrations and annoyances. Luckily, getting a little creative is all it usually takes to avoid common pitfalls and increase your efficiency as a runner.
These 18 running hacks are only the beginning. If you’re experiencing a frustration or struggle, taking the time to think outside the box may be exactly what you need to conquer the issue.