It’s been awhile since I have created a running tips article and well, the birds are chirping and the sun is shining and spring is finally just about here.
Here are 10 insights in regards to running that have helped build my focus, discipline and mindset.
#1 All Weather = Great Running Opportunity
Lol. Okay, maybe not when it is lightening out. The rest of the time….there just isn’t any excuse solid enough to not go running. I wrote about How to Handle Mother Nature at one point. While I sure don’t enjoy running in the rain, in the heat or cold, or in the wind (It is always windy where I am), it still feels good. Yes, it still feels good to get out and run. I might have to bundle up a bit more or dare to bare more skin. I might get a little soggy or chapped lips from that darn wind, but honest, I can’t recall the last time I regretted getting out and getting that run in.
Yes, obviously there are Do’s and Don’ts with the weather but running regardless of what is going on outside builds up your resilience and strength, both mentally and physically.
Now I have had a few winters where I just bundled up like a snowman and sort of half jogged – no gym membership at the time. This year, I sort of wimped out a few times and did a drop in at an indoor track. Sometimes it is too cold or windy or icy or dang roasty toasty and taking the run inside is a wise idea. But those times are rare and I strongly believe in getting that run in – outside.
#2 Cross Training is so important!
Whatever cross training exercises you choose to take on – it only helps your running, in endurance, form and pace. Your breathing comes from your core and building a strong core keeps your form solid which prevents injuries. Having a strong upper body makes you feel lighter (well it does for me anyways) when you do run on those days you don’t want to be running. Some people do a lot of stretching and some don’t. I am one that doesn’t stretch much (I do for my cross training and martial arts though) but flexibility throughout your whole body just adds ease to your runs. Especially if you run outside and on uneven terrain.
So pick up a cross training program, even just simple stretches, balancing exercises and using light dumbbells can make a nice improvement in your running.
#3 Get rid of your HR monitors, your watch and all those gadgets.
You don’t need them (unless you have a health condition that requires monitoring your HR). There is nothing better than the feeling of knowing it was a good run because you are simply improving over time. Once in awhile it’s fun to time yourself or monitor those numbers just to check yourself. But if you swear by the gadgets you are missing out on the ‘freeness’ that a good run can give your soul. Sometimes you need to just run and let all those other factors get set aside. Allow yourself to enjoy the fresh air filling your lungs and the blood pumping through your body and the various movements of your muscles and ligaments as you run. Give yourself a chance to actually FEEL ALIVE!
#4 Get serious.
If you normally run just for fun or to stay in shape switch gears and get serious about your running for a few months or a year. I know I just said to get rid of those watches and gadgets and the numbers but…. When you don’t normally pay attention to them sometimes it will give you a swift kick in the pants to level up with your fitness. Set a realistic goal or two and work your butt off to achieve it. (I call this building upon your discipline and focus mode.)
#5 Let loose.
If you are the opposite of #4 and are usually taking note of every little detail and factor in regards to your running and racing, stop! Try running and racing from a “Just for Fun.” Approach. Do you think you could do this for a few months or couple of races? I know a few people who might actually not be able to for even a week. Lol. Still, it is a challenge and a different way to experience your running, fitness and life. New perspectives always give you more appreciation.
#6 Understand It Won’t Always Be Fun.
A lot of people hate running because they don’t find it enjoyable. So they don’t do it. The best runners, the life-long runners, they will agree that not every run is fun. However, getting that run in still helps them physically feel better (stronger, healthier and more relaxed).
Often the times when you want to run the least, are when you benefit the most from getting out there. Tired, headache, sniffles, stiff/sore, sluggish, tense/stressed – running can alleviate all these and often will. I always encourage people to get out there. On the worst days, when you really, really do not want to, at least jog for a mile. Or go for a walk. Just get out, get some fresh air, let yourself breathe and unwind for a bit.
#7 Don’t drink too much water.
Everyone always says to hydrate but there is a line in which you are too hydrated before a run. Which results in you being a few miles from home and needing a bathroom stop. New runners often chug water right before a run and this isn’t good. It sloshes in your belly as you go and can even make you feel sluggish. When people talk about hydrating – they mean throughout the day. The body is fairly efficient and if you pay attention you will know when you need to drink a bit more during the few hours before a run.
This is true for during and after your run too. If you are doing a longer run, or in the heat yes, you need to take water breaks (or carry water with you) and SIP water, not chug it. How much water you need and when varies from person to person but the key is to hydrate through the day and intake your water in smaller amounts allowing your body to actually absorb the water and transport it to where the body needs it. It is better to drink a little bit every 5-10 minutes (before and after the run) than to drink half of your water bottle (or all of it) at once. Listen to your body.
Another tip – drink clear liquids before, during and after your run. In other words, avoid milk, extra sugary juices and alcohol. If you plan on drinking a beer or two after your run – wait long enough to at least drink a glass of water first.
#8 Success takes time.
You will not turn into speedy Gonzalez overnight. Nor will you be able to run 10 or 20 miles right away. Start out slow. Work on that first mile, then on adding a second and so on. The idea is for you to become healthier, fitter and actually enjoy running at least a little bit. The idea is that you will continue running for a few decades. So embrace wherever you are as a runner and just work on adding that next mile or goal. Break big goals down into smaller ones and be realistic. Life happens and the key is be flexible and go with the flow of life.
#9 Life happens.
Usually when we least want it to right? Becoming a life-long runner requires the understanding that there will be a few weeks here and there where you don’t run much or at all. There might even be a duration of a few months or even a year in which you don’t run. Having a flexible and long term mentality helps you get through when life does happen. Instead of quitting you just temporarily adjust your goals and running regimen until enough time has passed for it to resume to normal. And it will.
#10 Running is about you.
Aside from learning proper form, safety and injury prevention, running is as unique as you are. Don’t worry about what others think of you. Don’t try to copy what everyone else is doing (they might be doing it wrong!). Do some research on what good form looks like and the difference it makes. Learn basic safety rules and good health/training guidelines. Then allow your running to flow to whatever beat you stride to. Be as wild or simple as you’d like. Wear those bright pants and polka dots. Sing out loud and dance a little at the corner while you wait for traffic to pass. Let loose – it makes going for a run more enjoyable!
*For the Ladies*
You will love this article I’ve written with safety tips for female runners! As an avid runner and women’s self-defense instructor, these are just some of the tips in the classes I teach. Safety Tips for Women Who Run (and walk)
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