Running can be an endorphin-loaded energy boost to your day with just a little creativity and willingness to experiment. If your runs feel sluggish, uncomfortable, or just too difficult, it may be time to try something new.
If you've been looking for a reason to meditate, this is it. Meditation is all about controlling and observing your breath. Often a run feels difficult because the breath is out of sync. A short meditation to visualize your run before you head outdoors will help you return to an effortless breathing pattern when a run starts to feel difficult, making the rest of your run far easier and more comfortable.
2. Fuel Properly and Cautiously
Nothing derails a run faster than stomach cramps or the sudden sprint to find a public restroom or quiet, tree-lined corner of the fitness trail! Avoid an unnecessary pit stop by fueling cautiously by your run. You can enjoy a healthy snack of easily digestible carbs, but avoid anything that looks, smells, or tastes like grease or junk.
3. Get the Gear That Fits Your Body and Goals
The right pair of shoes and gear can make all the difference in the quality and comfort of your run. Take the time to visit your local running store for customized advice on the shape of your foot and your mileage goals. Having the right gear not only makes running easier but also keeps your feet happy and healthy.
4. Sign Up For a Race
If you want to be a runner but have a hard time motivating yourself to hit the pavement, it's probably time to sign up for a race. Whether you run a local race and discover the local running community or pick a destination race that lets you experience a new place, adding a race to your calendar may reignite a passion for running. If you don't feel ready to race, consider volunteering to support a local charity race. Just being around runners can be motivating!
5. Find Your Distraction
If your standard playlist is getting stale, consider experimenting with podcasts or audiobooks for longer runs. Getting wrapped up in a murder mystery or an inspirational audiobook might distract you enough that the miles fly by with less effort. No matter what audio distraction you choose, keep the volume low enough that you can remain alert to your surroundings and traffic on your route.
6. Roll It Out
According to Natalie Carey, a certified personal trainer at DIAKADI in San Francisco, CA, runners should be foam rolling after every single run. During a run, microtears form in the muscles. It's not as scary as it sounds, according to Carey, but is perfectly normal. Improper running form can lead to microtears healing imperfectly, causing knots to form in the muscles runners most rely upon. Foam rolling breaks up the knots and allows the muscles to hear properly, leaving them stronger than before.
Carey advises her running clients to use the foam for 15 to 30 minutes after a run, and to make use of their time by foam rolling while watching television. If you're pinched for time, make sure you at least roll out your IT band, the muscle that runs on the side of your leg from your glutes to your knees. That one simple move could eliminate most of the recurring running injuries that keep runners sidelined.
7. Celebrate Every New Milestone
Some days you celebrate a PR or a marathon finish line, some days you celebrate running a mile in the rain. Whatever your level of fitness or whatever your long-term goals might be, there's something to celebrate in every run. Some days you may just celebrate the fact that you went for a run instead of hitting happy hour!
8. Run More
Sorry, but the harsh reality is that you simply have to keep running for running to get easier. The more you run, the more efficient your body becomes at the process. Your legs will get stronger, your mind will be tougher, and your lungs will become more efficient. Some day you'll realize that what was once your goal distance is now your warm up.