10 Tips to Help You Step Up Your Running Game

Whether you are 17 or 70, if you are able-bodied, you can become a runner. Aside from the amazing “runner’s bod” and increase confidence, running is largely recognized for its health benefits. While there are so many incentives for running, it may be a bit difficult in the beginning. Here are ten tips on how to become a better runner.

Start Off Slow

It is highly unlikely that you will start off running five miles a day the first week. If you take on too much too soon, you may end up quitting shortly after you start. View running as a marathon, not a race. The key is to build yourself up and become better over time. Start off jogging for about 15 to 20 minutes and build up in small increments.

Wear Good Running Shoes

Picking the right pair of shoes can determine whether or not you achieve success in running. It may sound like a silly issue to get hung up on, but choosing the wrong shoe can not only prove to be uncomfortable, but it can also cause you a few injuries. Plantar fasciitis is among the most common causes of heel and foot pain among athletes. While there are treatments for plantar fasciitis, it’s better to prevent its development in the first place. Wearing supportive shoes while running can help reduce strain and prevent injury. That said, you will want to purchase a shoe that is specifically designed for running. Running shoes have cushioned soles and are tailored to absorb impact properly so you won’t have to worry about having too much pain in the feet, heels, and ankles.

Stay Hydrated

As a runner, water is your best friend. Whether you are running in 100-degree weather or taking a winter jog, your body must be hydrated in order to move properly. Dehydration can cause fatigue and disorientation – this is the last thing you want to experience during a run. Running includes just about every muscle, ligament, and tendon within the body, so it is essential to lubricate them to prevent injury.

Never Miss A Warm-up

Neglecting to warm the body up properly may cause your run to be more difficult than it has to be. To begin a warm-up, you will need to jog in place or engage in some sort of gentle movement for about 30 seconds or so. Once you feel your body beginning to heat up, you can start stretching. Stretch every part of your body, especially your legs and arms to prevent injury. Stretching thoroughly will release tightness within your muscles and tendons and provide you with a full range of motion for a better stride.

Use Proper Form

There is more to running correctly than one foot after another. While your lower body is fully engaged, you want to be sure to relax your top. Do not clench your jaw or bunch your shoulder up to your ears – this adds unnecessary pressure to the body. To avoid tiring out your biceps and shoulders, keep your hands above your hip bone (no higher than that) and avoid swinging your arms from front to back. You will also want to slightly lean your body forward and strike on the balls of your feet.

Take Deep Breaths

When we get winded, it is often instinctual to take short, fast breaths. This is essentially gasping for air, and it will tire you out quicker. Taking deep, sufficient breaths will maximize the oxygen fuel for the body. Breathing through your nose is the best technique as it will maintain more control and deliver an adequate amount of oxygen to your lungs.  If you are unable to carry on a conversation while running, you are probably not breathing correctly.

Set An Attainable Goal

Always have a goal set in place for yourself. Set deadlines and diligently work to meet them. The aim of setting a goal is to push yourself to become your better version. Create healthy competition within yourself. Be patient and become familiar with your strengths and capabilities. Always track your progress. Crush one goal, and move on to the next.

Strength Train

A strong core makes for an even stronger runner. Strength training will help to prevent injuries during running.  Many runners will have complaints regarding knee injuries – this is often due to weak hips muscles causing an increased load around the knee area. To strengthen your hips, do exercises like side steps, squats, and hip extensions. We also pump our arms while running to establish our pace, so stronger arms essentially equate to a faster speed. Exercises such as push-ups and other weighted arm exercises, planks, and crunches will help to strengthen the upper body.

Challenge Yourself

The goal is to be better than you were yesterday. While you may have some crappy days here and there, always look to make more progress than you did the previous week. Try increasing your distance or running up a hill. Test your limits as much as possible. You never know how far you can go until you try.

Learn About Your Body Type

As in any type of exercise, your body type matters. There are three main types of body types: ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph – most of us are a mixture of these. Understanding your body type and becoming familiar with your strengths and weaknesses will help you to be able to set realistic goals for yourself. While runners come in all shapes and sizes, ectomorphs (small and lean) and mesomorphs (heavily muscled) are better suited for running. Endomorphs may have to train a bit harder for results as their build tends to be a bit softer and rounder with shorter legs.

The most important thing to consider while trying to begin running or become better at it is to just show up. Consistency is the key component to achieving anything in life. There are no shortcuts to being a great runner. One of the most helpful things any starting runner can do is by making some sort of accountability system like having someone they have to report to, or by joining an online group that tracks their progress. Remember to just take the good with the bad, push yourself further, take breaks when needed, set goals and achieve them, and show up to do it all again another day!

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