Few would dispute the multitude of health benefits that come from a regular running routine. But if one wants to prevent injury, keep hydrated, and stay comfortable, there are a number of amazing tips, tricks, and hacks out there to ensure that a running regimen goes as smoothly and painlessly as possible. There are far more than 50 things to remain mindful of when piecing together a specific, personalized training program, though the following 50 make for a pretty good start.
1. Dress in layers during winter months. : Blogger Jason Alderman at Jason Learns How to Draw advises runners to bundle up in layers once the weather gets cold and begin stripping of the excesses should they grow too stifling and sweaty.
2. Sleep in running clothes. : Many members of Active.com’s running community recommend sleeping in clean running clothes the night before as a great motivator to getting up and going in the morning.
3. Take precautions to prevent chafing. : The always valuable Healthhacker.com provides 4 different methods that serious runners can use to stop the painful itching – even bleeding – that comes from pushing the body too hard against clothing.
4. Understand how breaks in running regimens affect the brain. : Brain Health Hacks states that running generally improves the overall wellness and efficiency of one of the body’s most essential organs, and extended layoff periods will have an effect on this. However, it does not take too long for the brain to recover once running starts back up.
5. Take the RunnersWorld sweat rate test. : RunnersWorld alone could fill up this list with its excellent advice, but its sweat rate test is one of the essentials for serious runners because it helps determine the most efficient possible method of hydration.
6. Men should Band-Aid their nipples. : For long runs, The Complete Running Network recommends that males place Band-Aids over their nipples in order to prevent severe chafing and bleeding.
7. Practice “belly breathing.” : Run-Down.com outlines the technique of “belly breathing,” which helps reduce the pain associated with cramps and maximize oxygen intake.
8. Establish a planned marathon pace. : Also known as PMP, the planned marathon pace helps runners get an idea as to how to keep themselves running steadily and efficiently during a race without growing too exhausted or risking injury. Doing so positively impacts short runs as well.
9. Become familiar with how running shoes work. : Harvard University posted an excellent study on endurance and barefoot running, and their discussion of how running footwear tries to maximize comfort, safety, and efficiency will prove interesting and informative to many readers.
10. Make sports drinks at home. : Save money and disposable packaging by whipping up an extremely simple, electrolyte-rich sports drink with water, sugar, and salt.
11. Forget the hot tub. : As soothing and relaxing as a nice hot tub soak can be, ice baths actually do a better job of curbing muscular inflammation and do not encourage further dehydration.
12. Elevate legs and feet prior to a race. : Whether full marathon or 5k, propping up the feet and legs before a run for about 3-5 minutes to promote both relaxation and blood flow.
13. Don’t feel the need to run every day. : Beginners especially need to make sure to get some rest in between their runs, lest they succumb to exhaustion and injury. The best idea is to make a realistic goal of how many miles to run in a week and strive to meet that in spurts whenever possible.
14. Increase mileage slowly. : This blog post may target women over 40, but they offer handy advice regarding the “10% Rule, which states that runners ought not increase their mileage more than 10% a week to prevent burnout and injury.
15. Learn the best method of breaking in shoes. : Before taking a new pair of running shoes out for a spin, wear them around the house and in daily life to get acclimated to their fit and stretch them out a bit.
16. Take caffeine in small doses. : Likewise, try to only take the minimum dosage of caffeine possible so as not to overload the body. Drinking coffee, soda, or tea in small spurts towards the latter half of the day seems to be the intake method best suited for those with an active fitness life.
17. Understand the biology behind running. : While it may not necessarily add mileage or flexibility, knowing why humans run to begin with greatly assists those hoping to engage in the sport better understand their bodies and potential.
18. Take advantage of these worksheets. : Print out Running Quest’s and RunnersWorld’s series of extremely informative worksheets as an excellent reference for the best stretches for those serious about their workouts.
19. Concentrate on exhaling. : One blogger and runner recommends a breathing hack that suggests his fellow enthusiasts fall into a rhythm involving thinking only of their exhalations instead of the entirety of the action.
20. Set goals. : Formulating realistic running goals makes for a great motivator to get out of the house and exercise. Writing them down helps even more.
21. Try not to exhale when the right foot falls. : Doing so prevents runners from suffering side stitches and cramps, so always be sure to pay attention to exhaling on left footfall.
22. Don’t turn down food when feeling ill. : If nausea sets in during a race, there are several things a runner can do to keep him- or herself properly fortified without causing further upset.
23. Make a DIY handheld flask holder. : Save money by fashioning a quick hand flask suitable for races out of an old armband pouch – freeing up the wallet for the best shoes and gear possible.
24. Concentrate on the abs. : One runner shares a handy tip that comes straight from his experiences – when feeling out of breath or exhausted, try leading with the stomach over anything else.
25. Duct tape ear buds. : Another handy tip by Jason Alderman, this time teaching readers how to prevent annoyingly squeaky ear buds with a bit of duct tape.
26. Store essentials in shoes. : Whenever possible, leave small, necessary items (the example lists BodyGlide and a RoadID in running shoes as a means of remembering them before leaving.
27. Learn how to properly diagnose injuries. : Even runners who take responsible precautions to stave off injuries still suffer from them every once in a while. Read over RunnersWorld’s integral article on how to gauge what happened to the body in the event one occurs.
28. Keep track of mileage on shoes. : Doing so will help gauge the right time to replace a pair. Running in old, dilapidated shoes significantly increases the risk of injury.
29. Figure out personal statistics. : Take advantage of Run-Down.com’s links to 7 different calculators that assist runners in gaining a clear picture of how well they are doing and what areas of their routine may need a little work.
30. Become familiar with a race course ahead of time. : Drive, walk, or run an unfamiliar marathon, half-marathon, 10k, or 5k course prior to the event, if possible. Doing so will relieve much of the anxieties that crop up on race day and help prevent any potentially hazardous surprises.
31. Eat proteins and carbohydrates shortly after a race. : Whenever possible, try to eat plenty of carbohydrates and proteins between 15 and 60 minutes after completing a run. This is the best time frame to replenish energy stores.
32. Learn why bruised toenails happen. : Runners commonly suffer from bruised and swollen toes that are, while irritating, not as threatening as they sound. Rather, they stem from improperly fitting shoes – meaning if bruising does appear it may be time to snag a new pair.
33. Taper during training. : When training for a race, always make room for tapering off in order to boost speed, efficiency, and keep the body healthier than a straight-through workout. Because tapering carries with it so many great benefits, it ought to become an essential element of any runner’s regimen.
34. Try cold-packed honey. : Cold-packed honey preserves enzymes and carries with it properties similar to insulin. It apparently helps build stores of glycogen that increase athletic performance.
35. Take a cold shower before and after running in the heat. : Because exerting oneself in hot weather stresses and dehydrates the body further, it is always a wise idea to indulge in a cold shower prior to and following a run to lower the core temperature.
36. Underwear is optional. : Unless chafing begins causing serious issues, runners can get away without wearing underwear with their apparel. However, it is a good idea to choose a brand with moisture wicking properties.
37. Walk through fluid stations. : When racing, slow down a little and take the time to drink water as opposed to splashing it on. Doing so will help nurture hydration and boost energy.
38. Always carry some sort of reflector or light when running at night. : For personal safety reasons and as a courtesy to drivers and other pedestrians, it is always a good idea to take advantage of the myriad lights and reflective items and apparel available specifically for runners.
39. Consider yoga. : All runners ought to stretch before and after going out to minimize soreness and promote flexibility. Some may want to think about yoga as one way of working out the kinks.
40. Consider barefoot running. : Studies have begun emerging regarding the benefits of running without the assistance of shoes, which offers a great workout to parts of the leg and foot that rarely get any attention.
41. Want to go faster? Swing the arms. : Swinging arms back and forth at the same pace as the legs helps runners boost their speed significantly.
42. Don’t go too fast right off the bat. : This bit of advice from DistanceRunningTips.com may be listed for 5k races, but applies to almost all of them. Pacing is one of the most integral elements of a serious run, and exploding from the starting line only serves to promote serious exhaustion.
43. Make a map of runs. : MapMyRun.com makes for an amazing resource for serious runners looking for new challenges in their cities and desiring a way of seeing where they have been and where they may want to go.
44. Take ice baths 2 days before a race. : Run-Down.com recommends a 15-20 minute ice bath in an athletic whirlpool two days before a race in order to remove muscular soreness. Taking it the day before has a tendency to render a runner stiff rather than relaxed.
45. Always read product reviews before purchase. : Browse the internet and read consumer reports and reviews of apparel, shoes, and other equipment before purchasing. Pay close attention to running communities, and feel free to ask questions. When it comes to health and safety, it does not pay to cut corners by buying economical but potentially compromised goods.
46. Toes chafe, too! : “100 Beginner Running Tips” hosted at The Complete Running Network makes for an invaluable resource for novices and seasoned veterans in need of a review, and their great advice on applying BodyGlide, petroleum jelly, or other means of chafing prevention between toes to stop painful itching and bleeding helps all experience levels.
47. Perform certain stretches to prevent injuries. : The always valuable RunnersWorld provides instructions on 3 different, essential exercises extremely useful for preventing minor and major injuries alike.
48. Get an education on foot types. : There are at least 3 major foot shapes, and those serious about running should familiarize themselves with their classification if they hope to find comfortable, study shoes that fit right. Doing so will greatly help reduce the risk of injury.
49. Keep a running journal. : Active.com’s running community overflows with extremely valuable advice, and one of the most interesting ones discusses how regularly writing in a running journal helps create a sense of accomplishment and work out any anxieties.
50. Use old cotton socks in lieu of mittens or gloves. : Yet another great winter running tip from Jason Alderman, this time explaining that old cotton socks breathe better than the usual gloves and mittens. Because of this, sweat does not build up and make runners uncomfortable.
With these hacks, tricks, and tips, the serious runner can begin a satisfying routine that preserves health and safety without compromising efficiency. Stay informed on new research, developments, and reviews and become involved in relevant local and online communities to see if anything proves valuable to a personalized running routine.
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