POPSUGAR Fitness

25 Essential Tips That Will Make You a Better Runner

Jun 4 2014 - 9:41am

If you've been itching to take a warm-weather run, now's your chance! If you're new to running, keep these running tips in mind the next time you head out for a confident and effective workout.

Source: Thinkstock / Gelner Tivadar [1]

Start Slow

Just because you need to walk doesn't mean you're not a runner. Start with a mix of walking for five minutes and running for one (or less, if this is too hard at the start); as you get better, you can adjust each period as necessary.

Go Technical

Old tees and stretched-out sweats will make your run seem that much harder. Pick up some cute, flattering, and functional performance gear that won't chafe or soak up sweat. These affordable workout clothes [2] will get you far for not much dough.

Beat Boredom

Even if you love to run, a 30-minute session can feel like forever without the right distraction. Have a workout playlist [3], podcast, or TV show on the treadmill cued up to help distract you when you just want to quit.

Don't Stretch Before

Yes, you do need to warm up muscles with some dynamic moves, but static stretching before you start isn't helpful — and may cause you to pull a muscle. Save your stretching for after every run in order to increase flexibility and prevent injury.

Set a Goal

Whether it's signing up for a 5K or setting a mile pace, having a goal will keep you dedicated to your running hobby. Our tips on how to train for a race [4] will motivate you!

Add Strength Training

Adding a few strength-training moves after your run saves you time, since you've already warmed up, and is great for building muscle and burning more calories. Even just five minutes of simple moves like outdoor bench workout [5] will help you see results in just a few weeks.

Source: Megan Wolfe Photography [6]

Get Off the Treadmill

The treadmill offers consistency and ideal conditions to learn how to run, but if you want to be a better runner, then take your jog out onto the road or trail. Outdoor conditions will make running seem harder at first, but you'll be working different sets of muscles and building endurance to become a better runner over time.

Learn This Move

This yoga-inspired dynamic warmup [7] is a great one to have in your back pocket for pre-Winter runs or to wake your body up before an early-morning jog. Repeating these two moves will help you have a great run.

Source: Louisa Larson Photography [8]

Think Robot Arms

Don't flail or cross your arms over your body while you run: keep elbows at 90 degrees and arms pumping back and forth close to the side of your body. This will help make running feel easier.

Aim For Midfoot

Heel-striking, or hitting the ground with the back of your foot first, can make running feel harder or lead to injury. Try training yourself to land in the middle or on the ball of your foot instead.

Refuel

Go for carbs and protein immediately after your run; these post-workout snack ideas [9] will help restore energy and repair muscles.

Stay Alert

Running outside can be risky; make sure you keep your sport safe by wearing bright or reflective clothing, keeping your music volume low, and keeping an eye on road traffic.

Take Shorter Strides

Keep your stride length short instead of bounding through your run. The more relaxed your body, the easier running will feel.

Find a Buddy

Running is a solitary sport, but all those miles on the road can get monotonous on your own. Running with a partner not only will motivate you to stick with your routine, but also also make it a lot more fun.

Get Serious About Shoes

The wrong pair of sneakers can make running seem that much harder. Take the time to find what type of shoes work for your feet and gait, so you invest in shoes that your feet will love. Use these tips for buying running shoes [10] before you shop.

Stretch Those Toes

Your toes really do a lot while you run — help you balance, for one — so don't ignore them. Strengthen them with toe lifts or toe scrunches to keep them healthy and prevent problems like shin splints [11].

Vary It Up

Don't run from the hills; seek them. Sticking to the same surface, speed, or route can lead to overuse injuries or a weight-loss plateau. Make sure your running routine includes different kinds of runs, whether that means hilly, slow, fast, indoor, or outdoor.

Have a Snack

If it's been a few hours since your last meal, then about 30 minutes before a run, eat a small snack that's a mix of carbs and protein. You'll stay energized throughout your whole session. Here are a few pre-workout snack ideas [12] to try before a run.

Know the Weather

In general, you should dress like it's 20 degrees warmer when you head out for a run. You'll get warmer as your heart rate rises, so if the weather is chilly, wear layers that you can easily remove.

Treat Your Feet

Rolling an ice-cold water bottle, golf ball, or tennis ball under your feet [13] will help loosen tight fascia and prevent pain. Do this several times a week for happy feet.

Foam-Roll

Keep muscles flexible and injuries away with a regular stretching and foam-rolling routine. These foam-rolling exercises [14] will help loosen painful knots for all those times when a relaxing, expensive massage isn't in your schedule.

Source: POPSUGAR Studios

Warm Up

Finding your ideal warmup will take time, but you should definitely make sure you have a routine. Whether it's a few minutes of light jogging or one of these prerunning warmup ideas [15], your run should include a few minutes to get your body ready for your workout.

Stay Hydrated

The key to a good run is making sure you drink enough water before you start — guzzling water during your run can cause cramps and make you take a lot of bathroom breaks. Drink about 15 to 20 ounces of water an hour before you go for a run; if it's a fast or long run, you should take along a water bottle to sip from as well. Get more tips on how much water to drink while exercising here [16].

Cool Down

Don't go from a high-intensity sprint to sitting down in the locker room. A good, slow jog and stretch after you've worked your muscles will increase flexibility and prevent tightness that can lead to injury. Leave a few minutes for stretching (try this postcardio cooldown [17]) after every run.

Go Ahead and Rest

With all the running and cross training in your week, it's important to realize that rest days are key as well. Stay consistent with your new routine, but don't forget that sometimes, the best thing for your body is doing nothing at all.


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