I sort of love/hate running.
I like to say that I was built for comfort and not for speed. As an occasional triathlete, though, I have to run. There’s not really anyway around that in a SWIM > BIKE > RUN event.
I will never be a gifted runner, but I have improved over the years as I’ve started to take it a bit more seriously and studied different techniques, invested in a gait analysis, and finally figured out what style of shoe works best for me.
Over the past few years of trying to figure this thing out, I’ve picked up a few tips and resources that I wish I knew when I started. Here are a few layman’s tips in no particular order to get you going, or to keep you running and enjoying it.
10 Tips for Running and Not Hating It:
- Change Your State: One of the biggest hurdles to running on any given day is that you just don’t feel like running. Am I right?? We’re working, studying, driving, parenting, whatever – and your body and mind aren’t just clamoring for you to pretty please go change clothes and hit the pavement. The very best tip I can give you is to change your state. This is easy, quick and SO EFFECTIVE.
- Some things I will do just to get my blood moving and warm up to the idea of going for a run: crank up some music (in the car, in the kitchen, wherever – get pumped up!), jump on my rebounder (mini-trampoline), dance with my kid in the kitchen, do 1-minute cardio blitz (e.g. jumping jacks, high knees, jump rope), [WARNING: TMI FORTHCOMING] have quick sexy-time with my hubby [TOLD YOU], take the dog for a quick walk or just chase her around for a minute, run up the stairs a couple of times…..literally, 1-3 minutes can change your state and break you out of the day’s lethargy. Now you’re ready!
- Reduce the impact: Earth is so much softer than cement. If you can, run on trails/grass/dirt/sand more than roads and sidewalks to lighten the load.
- Hierarchy of impact from hardest to softest: Cement (sidewalk) > Asphalt (roads) > Running Tracks > Earth
- Use a Foam Roller: Don’t be fooled by this unassuming tool. It is powerfully painful and effective. I say very bad words to my foam roller. I curse the day is was factory-born. It is also the reason I can now run without hip and knee pain. It knows I secretly love it, so it puts up with my streams of abuse. Here’s the thing: if you use it regularly (a few times a week), it hurts a whole lot less than if you use it sparingly. PS – if it hurts, you need it. Click on the image for details.
- Don’t know how to use it? Go to YouTube and search “foam rolling techniques” – your back, hips, glutes, hamstrings, calves and other parts will thank you.
- Visit Your Local Running Store: Not the big box stores, friends. Find the running store in your area that is owner-operated. Why? No you can’t buy 95 different brands here plus a set of tires and a canoe, but you are much more likely talk to someone who actually runs, who knows how to evaluate what you need, and who can point you toward lots of other resources like training groups, running clubs, local races and health practitioners who are known in the running community.
- Invest in technique: I finally coughed up the cash for a gait analysis and some running form training. After 3 sessions, my running was so different that I should actually call it something else. I learned 3 things that I was doing wrong, I found out my glutes were “deactivated” from prolonged sitting, and I learned what I should be doing, how to get those glutes firing, etc, etc. I wish I’d done it sooner and saved myself several seasons of pain and frustration.
- Want to know where to find a resource like this? Ask any triathlete or runner you know, check with your local running store, look into chiropractors who specialize in sports medicine, ask a PT…the list goes on!
- Stop sitting all day!! Stand up once an hour, walk a little, move a little (like you were designed to do). When you sit all day, everything shortens, tightens and slumps. Imagine the shock to your body when you go from 8 hours of sitting to BAM! we’re running now! I actually had to do some glute and hamstring work to “reactivate” my posterior after years of way too much sitting. Now, I have a standing desk, I take mini-breaks during my day, and I generally am just more aware, so I’ll never go back!
- Get off that treadmill: OK, if you love your treadmill or your elliptical, don’t hate. But do go outside. Running outside is functionally different than treadmill running and about 1000 times more fun, more interesting and more likely to inspire you. Get outside!
- Walk: One of the best tips for starting running? WALK. Some of the ways walking can make for better running:
- Start where you are: Not ready to run? Well, you can walk, pal, so get out there – no excuses.
- Leisure walking is great on your in-between days or later in the day after a run to reduce lactic acid build-up and keep your body fluid and happy.
- Hills: find a hill. Power walk up that thing 5 times. Great glute work to help you be a better runner. And, after you’ve repeated the same hill 5 times, jogging on flat Earth will sound like a picnic.
- Grab a buddy: I am not a good running buddy. I don’t want to chat, I want to run my own pace, not yours, and I have no idea what that pace may be on any given day. That said, I make running buddy dates when I am 1) bored with running, or 2) need to be “on the hook” to actually go running, 3) want to catch up with someone, or 4) want to push harder than I might on my own. Any of those might serve a purpose for you, even if you’re a solo act most of the time like me.
- Learn something new: Watch a Chi Running video, or listen to Matt Johnson’s Runner Academy podcast, or read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall …just invest a little time and brain power into learning from the pros.
There are so many more things to be said about running – I am barely scratching the surface here! What tips, tricks and resources work for you? I want to know. Tell me in the comments and maybe I’ll turn this into a new On Air with Ella podcast – what else do you want to know?