Some days I slip on my sports bra and sneaks and I feel so light and strong — like I could keep going and going. Other days it seems like my legs are trudging through mud. What gives? We can't prevent bad running days entirely, but here are a few things you can do in order to have more good days than bad.
- Get enough sleep the night before. Hit the hay early enough so you get seven to nine hours of shut-eye.
- Make sure you're hydrated. Not drinking the appropriate amount of water before and during your workout can lead to dizziness, headaches, decreased energy and performance, dry mouth, and cramps. A few hours before running, drink about 15 to 20 ounces. Drink another eight to 10 ounces 10 to 15 minutes before heading out.
- Eat before your run. Remember that food is fuel. If you're not working out for five or so hours, enjoy a meal that contains protein, fat, and carbs. Several hours before a run, eat a meal that's under 500 calories. Thirty to 90 minutes before you head out, enjoy a carb-loaded low-fat snack. If you're working out first thing in the a.m., fuel up with easily digestible carbs that are low in fiber. Getting too much fiber can cause major cramps during your run.
- Hit the ladies room. There's no need to carry unnecessary weight with you, so if you can relieve yourself before your run, you'll feel much lighter and will be less likely to experience belly aches.
See more tips after the break!
- Don't skip the warmup. It can help prevent injuries and side stitches.
- Bring water along if it's excessively hot or humid. You may be used to running without a water bottle, but if you're losing a lot of fluid through sweat, you need to drink during your workout to prevent dizziness caused by dehydration. Sip an ounce or two periodically throughout your run since gulping a ton of liquid down can cause stomach pains.
- Sip sports drinks if you're exercising intensely for 60 minutes or more. It will help replace added calories, sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes to keep you energized.
- Run in a new setting. If you're used to hitting the treadmill, step outside. If you're used to running in your neighborhood, head to the bike path. If you're bored of running on the local high school track, hop on some woodsy trails. Variety energizes your brain and challenges your muscles differently, so it's win-win.
- Find a running buddy, or a few. I love running with my next door neighbor because she's faster than I am, so it keeps me on my toes. And I just started working out with a mommy friend, who introduced me to some new routes in my neighborhood. Running with someone always puts me in a good mood, and since the time flies, I end up running longer than I would on my own.
- Ditch the gear. If you're constantly obsessed about always tracking your speed and mileage, the stress of personal competition takes all the enjoyment out of running.
- Make sure your clothes are comfortable. You'll easily become annoyed if you have to futz with your underwear or keep pulling up your socks, so wear something you know and trust.
- Try intervals. They not only help burn more calories and make you a faster runner, changing up your pace keeps your brain engaged.
- Check the weather. Dressing too warmly or running into a rainstorm can turn a good running day into a bad one.
- Go shopping at iTunes. Spend a few bucks and buy some new upbeat songs to add to your favorite running mixes.
- If a pain ails you, have it checked out. Running through an injury is likely to make it worse.
- Take breaks. If you run most days of the week, and most days are bad, it's a red flag to take a break. Keep in mind that in order to strengthen your muscles, you need to work them and then give them time to build up through recovery days.
Don't forget to enter our giveaway to win a year supply of running shoes from Asics — good sneakers are a must for good running days.