Day 361 – 8 Things to Make Running Easier

Running and I have a love-hate relationship. I love how I feel after I run. I love running in races even though I am not actually racing the other people. I love listening to music and singing along, sometimes out loud because there is no one around except for the corn and soybeans. I love sprinting at the end to see just how fast my legs can take me. I hate the running part. I hate being out of breath. I hate being thirsty but not having any water.

The more I think about it, there are a lot more loves than hates for me. That was actually a pretty healthy exercise for me to realize that I don’t really hate it as much as I sometimes think I do.

Today I practiced as many of these running tips as I could remember. They worked amazingly well and I was really impressed. Some of them don’t come naturally to me, so I have to keep reminding myself to do them while I go.

1. Weight training: I have been trying to do this as much as I could all summer (and before he summer too). I thought that I would have so much time to go to the gym without needing to go to work everyday. Between babysitting, tutoring, and meetings, I have not had nearly as much gym time as I have hoped. I definitely think that this makes a difference though. I used to be able to run faster. Now that I have had a few weeks of very little gym time, I am struggling to keep my speed over 6 mph. *note to self…get your behind to the gym…no excuses!

2. Take shorter strides: When I was in college, I ran our Turkey Trot and one of the volunteers saw me running and told me to take longer strides to feel better. That seems to be the opposite of what this is saying. I think that in general, I take pretty short strides. It’s hard to take long strides when you have short legs like I do. While I was running today, I thought that this said to take longer strides, so that’s what I did for part of the time. I guess I failed on this one.

3. Learn to breathe right: I usually try to go as long as I can with just breathing through my nose. I know I won’t make it the whole way, but as it gets tougher, I remind myself to take nice long sniffs. Somewhere around mile 1, I always seem to get into the swing of things and forget to breathe through my nose. Then I seem to count 3 steps in, 3 steps out. I have tried the breathe through my nose out through my mouth thing and it just doesn’t work for me. It takes too much thinking and doesn’t feel natural.

4. Eat More: Anything that involves eating more is always on my agenda. I used to think that I would feel sick if I ate before I ran. Then one day, I was starving before a run so I ate a Pop Tart. (healthy…I know…) It was pretty much the best run I have had to date. From that point on, I knew that eating mattered. Now I make sure to eat something first, even if I don’t want to. Nowadays I try to be a little healthier than Pop Tarts. I had Maple Brown Sugar Frosted Mini Wheats with blueberries in it today. It was quite successful.

5. Stretching: I hate this part. I really hate it before I run, so usually I count my walk from my house down my driveway and to the second forsythia plant in my neighbor’s yard as my warm-up. It’s a decent enough walk. Then I stretch when I come home. (this was one that I forgot was on this list today…I still did it, but not because of this list…just because I do)

6. Only increase your distance by 10% each week: This one got me into trouble a few years ago. I had just run a half marathon in May and I took the summer off. Then I decided I could run a 10 miler in September. After not running one tiny bit for 3 months, I went out and repeatedly ran 4, 5 and 6 mile runs to try to get back up to the 10 mile mark and it tore.my.shins.up. When I hear “shin splints,” I think of some wimpy stupid injury that you should just get over. Deal with it you wimp! I am here to say that shin splints are no joke. I went to the doctor and they did some tests and determined that “it’s just shin splints.” While I am glad it wasn’t anything more serious, my shins have never been the same. I have worked hard to get them back to working condition, so now I will for sure be heeding this advice!

7. Start slow, then pick up the pace: This is the opposite of what comes naturally to me. I usually start off in the 7-8 mph range and then slow to a more comfortable 6 mph. After reading this, I decided to start off slower, and I think it kind of made my whole run go more slowly. I think I am going to try not to do this tomorrow and see if I can get back up to my usual faster speed. Maybe it’s because of this, or maybe it’s because I didn’t really run for 2 weeks.

8. Wear the right shoes: Between gigantic blisters and shin splints, I finally realized that shoes matter. I went to a running store a few years ago and I wasn’t impressed. They didn’t really do all of the things I thought they would do, but the shoes were really good. Since I wasn’t really happy with it, I decided not to go back when I needed new shoes. I found a pair of Adidas shoes that I absolutely love. They are light and comfortable and just a perfect fit for me. I am on my second pair and I probably need to start looking into my third pretty soon.

*If you really want the tips, I recommend reading the link to the original site. This is just my abridged description of how I felt about them all.

I think the main thing that I notice is that the tips are good as a starting point, but not everything works for everyone. I am a big fan of doing what works for you, as long as it works.

This site has a bunch of other really great tips also that I used in combination with the 8 things I just mentioned. One thing that I did from that list were to relax my muscles as I went. I also tried to keep my arms moving. That makes a really big difference in my speed, but it is one of those things that I need to think hard about.

There probably is no perfect way to do it. I figure that if I just keep moving, maybe I will be one of those 70 year old grannies out there running races and such.
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