Happy Monday – I hope everyone had a great weekend & Father’s Day! Summer is officially in full swing and in Texas, that means temperatures of over 100 degrees. Therefore, I spent my entire weekend lounging around by the pool – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way!
Today I’m sharing with you all 7 tips to become a better runner – and I apologize in advance for this post being so long! First I must say: I am definitely no running expert, which is why I call myself a “wannabe runner”. Running does not come easily for me & never has, but these are just a few tips & tricks that I have learned to help making running easier & a much more enjoyable experience. Growing up and all throughout college, I hated running (and “exercise” in general – I was much more of a sports-playing kind of girl than a “hit the gym” kind of girl). Post-grad, I noticed I was feeling more sluggish and my metabolism was starting to slow a little, so in 2013 I set a New Year’s Resolution for myself to run a 5K. I used the Couch to 5K app sparingly throughout that spring but didn’t really stick to training consistently because running was just so hard for me – I could only run about 30 seconds at a time before I would get so out of breath that I would have to stop and walk. When Drew & I tried to run our first 5K in April of that year, I could barely even make it through a mile of the race without having to stop (although Drew is naturally super fit & can run 3 miles out of the blue like it is nothing! A trait that I am insanely jealous of.). I was in no way prepared for it so I decided to take the summer off and try again in the fall.
That fall was when I really started to like running – I found out what worked best for me to actually enjoy the experience rather than just suffering through it. I ran my first 5K in November of 2013 and nearly cried when I crossed the finish line because I never thought I would ever be able to run 3.1 miles based on how difficult running had been for me at first. Because I was on such a runner’s high, in 2014 I set myself the goal of running a 10K which is when I really had to start taking into consideration more than just what was needed to simply make it through a run. I had to start paying closer attention to my diet as well as incorporating cross-training (hiking & playing tennis were my methods of choice!) & weight-training so that my body could be strong enough to carry me through those 6.2 miles. This was definitely the most committed & regimented physical activity I’ve ever done, so I’ll be referring to it several times in my tips below. Running for one hour without stopping is no joke!
I ran my first (and so far my only, but definitely not my last!) 10K in April of 2014 and it was truly one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Since then, I trained to to another 10K in December of 2014 but got sick the week of the race and couldn’t compete. I’ve run off-and-on throughout 2015 and this year, and I am currently training for a 10K that I hope to run this fall. At the moment (because I haven’t run consistently in such a long time), running is hard for me… as in I am back to barely being able to run a mile without stopping. Like they say, “if you don’t use it, you lose it!”. I am absolutely no running expert or even a “good runner” at that, but I think it’s important for me to share my running journey/history with you so that you can see why I’ve come up with the below tips. Read on to find out what worked for me!
1. FIND A TIME THAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU
Realizing that the time of day I run impacts how I feel was such a light bulb moment for me recently! When I was training for my 10K back in 2014, my job hours were 10am – 7pm which meant I had plenty of time in the morning to run/work out and still had time to shower, walk my dogs, eat breakfast, and even lounge around a little before having to be at work. I was consistently going to the gym 3 mornings per week and even had time to do some weight training after my run. Fast forward to 2016 where my job hours are 8 to 5. For the past several months, I’ve been running in the evenings after I get home from work because it just seemed to make much more sense with my time. The only problem was that my runs felt sluggish, I felt tired, and overall running was so much harder than it was supposed to be. Once I realized that the time of day impacted my runs, it was a total game-changer. I am now back to running in the mornings (I’m currently running Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings so that I only have to wake up at 5am for work twice per week!), and it has made all the difference for so many reasons – I have more energy, I am not mentally as tired or physically as tired (sitting in a desk chair all day is actually pretty tough on your body), and I love running while the sun is rising. It is a calm start to my day and it gives me much more energy and sense of accomplishment that lasts throughout the whole day. And in the summertime in Texas, it’s about 30 degrees cooler in the morning than in the evening which definitely makes a difference! The biggest tip I have here is to find the time that works for you! Mornings? Great! Lunchtime? Great! Evenings? Great! Just find the time that works best for you & stick to it.
2. INVEST IN GOOD RUNNING SHOES
Running shoes is one area that I highly recommend you don’t skimp on! It’s vital to have good support as it not only affects your feet, but your knees, legs, and back as well. I have somewhat difficult feet (they are super tiny and I have incredibly high arches), so I am always looking for a shoe that offers me great support. I’ve tried all kinds of brands and truly have found Brooks Running shoes to be the best. They are lightweight, super supportive, and come in all sorts of fun colors/prints. I used to run with the Brooks Pureflow (which I loved!!), but recently got these Brooks Launch running shoes which have been great so far.
Don’t skip this step! Stretching is so important as it impacts how your muscles will feel during your run. I always stretch my legs for at least 10-15 minutes before I run, but I also take the time to stretch out my arms and back as well. I’ve found that the looser I feel, the better my run is. I also take time especially to stretch my calves as that is always my problem area & the first area to cramp up if I don’t stretch it properly.
4. USE RUNNING APPS & FIND/CREATE A RUNNING PLAYLIST THAT YOU LOVE
This isn’t 100% necessary, but I’ve found i makes running so much more enjoyable when you have some music to sing along to (even if just in your head) as well as a training app that can help you reach your goals & track your progress along the way. I always run with my Beats Wireless headphones (so you don”t have to worry about getting tangled up in cords) and an arm band like this one to hold my phone. These are a few of my favorites:
5. BE CONSISTENT
This is one of the most important tips – in order to become a better runner, you must run consistently! For me, this means at least 3-4 times per week, and I try not to go more than 2-3 days in between runs. Whenever I “take some time off” from running, it is always infinitely more difficult when I do try to run again. The more consistently you make a habit of incorporating running into your routine, the stronger your body will become & the easier it will be.
6. A BAD RUN IS BETTER THAN NO RUN AT ALL
I came across this quote on Pinterest about a year ago and for some reason it really stuck with me & is one that I have to remind myself of all the time. Running is not easy. Some days it will be, and some days it won’t be. What you have to remember is that when your run feels “bad” (for me this means not reaching my goal distance/time or having to stop to walk because my body just couldn’t run another step!), you are still pushing yourself & getting stronger just by the mere fact that you got up and tried! Never discount yourself for that, even when you feel like you didn’t have a good run – at least you had a run.
7. DON’T GIVE UP – IT WILL GET EASIER!
The more you do it, the easier it will become! Just don’t give up – take it from the girl that could barely run 1/10 of a mile and was able to run 6.2 miles just one short year later. It does get easier, you will get stronger, and you (hopefully) will start to like running more!
Thank you so much for stopping by! Do you have any running tips or things that you have found to make running easier & more enjoyable? Let me know in the comments!