Are you getting the most from your run? Have you ever struggled to build and understand how to keep a routine? Many new to running and those returning experience these issues when adjusting to a new exercise; you're not alone.
We're here to help you get the most from your run and learn how to build a routine that hopefully will become easy to stick to on your journey, or re-start, to winning the race to better health.
Body and Form Awareness
When you run the correct way, you'll experience fewer to no injuries and experience a more efficient run. It's crucial to look at your running form and make adjustments and improvements as you go. The proper running form and running gait play a vital role in the many health benefits of running, enabling you to run longer distances at a greater intensity with less pain and comfort.
What's the proper running form?
• Maintain good posture, engage your code, and keep your gaze forward
• Avoid tilting your head downward and slumped shoulders
• Broaden your chest, keeping it lifted as you draw your shoulders down and back.
• Keep hands loose, swinging arms relaxed.
• Avoid hitting the ground with your heel. Use a midfoot strike.
What is a midfoot strike?
A midfoot strike is when your foot makes first contact with the ground on the ball of your foot, not the heel or the toe. The foot is very close to being parallel with the ground on impact. A midfoot strike allows your body to absorb the impact forces better while running. Your foot should land just in front of your torso or hips, and your knee should always be above or in front of the ankle at impact.
How Can I see my Form?
The easiest way to see your running form and find areas that need improvement is to video record yourself from various angles, running and slowing it down. You can also get a professional gait analysis performed by a physical therapist, or ask your running coach if you have one to provide this service.
Switch It Up
You want to switch up your technique as much as possible when you run. Not only does this keep boredom at bay, but many studies also show there can be immediate and long-term improvements in reducing injury and injury symptoms when changing your running technique. Run intervals; change your tempo several times during a run: speed up for a few minutes, then return to a more comfortable pace, for example.
Get Off The Beaten Path
Running the same route on the same road or sidewalk can get pretty monotonous. Try running on trails and getting off the road to make your run more enjoyable. Of course, this depends on your schedule. You shouldn't go trail running in the dark, as there aren't any streetlights, and you should have a good grip and traction running shoe to combat slippery terrain.
Because trail running engages your whole body, and you work on balance and stability, trail running tends to burn more fat than running on roads or sidewalks. Additionally, running on a trail provides an uneven surface, unlike the flatness of cement, meaning your body isn't getting the same impacts in the same places repeatedly.
What Else Can You Do to Get the Most Out of Running?
• Keep your shoes and feet wet. Wet shoes stretch and lose the ability to hold and support you.
• Maintain your shoes. If any part of your running shoes is starting to fray, come apart, or the cushioning is crushed, it's time for a new pair.
• Speaking of new shoes, always do a trial run before making a significant investment in a new pair. Padding around on a store carpet won't recreate how the shoes feel when running. Take a quick jog on hard tile or around an aisle to see how they feel.
• Select the right socks. Runners should always wear running or fitness-specific socks.
Building a Running Routine
Unfortunately, routines never become a habit unless we actively put effort into creating one. It's not easy, but it is doable. Whether you choose an early morning run or an evening run, it won't happen until you build a running routine that works for you.
Prep is Key
If you're going for a morning run, get to bed earlier than usual, and feel free to go to bed in your clean running clothes or lay out all the gear you need before sleeping. If you can, prep breakfast or snacks you'll need before you head out too. If you have issues hitting the snooze button, place your alarm across the room to make it harder to hit that button.
If you prefer evening or nighttime running, the first important preparation tip is finding and using a well-lit route, which means no trail running, but safety is more important. Keep it simple, and don't overthink. Instead of finding the perfect 10-mile route, find a 5-mile one you can double up on, or even better, a 2-mile loop that you can run as many times as you need to keep closer to home should you need or want to stop.
At night time or early morning, it's essential you can be seen and be visible. Loud colors, reflective material, headlamps, flashing strobe lights—whichever works for you, ensure you don't blend in and can be spotted.
Try and drink extra water before you go for your run, at least 16 ounces.
Always warm up pre-run. A dynamic warm-up prevents injury and stiffness and isn't the same as a static recovery stretch post-run (which is still just as important.) Your muscles in the morning will probably be stiff, so a good 5-15 minute dynamic is needed. You can warm up by:
• Standing Leg Extensions
• Knee Hug to Chest
• Forward leg Swings
Start Small and Be Gentle On Yourself
The key to building any routine and running is to start small, keep your expectations manageable, and be patient and kind to yourself. Both routine and running are complex tasks that require patience and time. Keep practicing your technique, make it fun and exciting, switch up your forms, and prepare for the run; you might enjoy it more than ever!