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Becoming a runner can be extremely intimidating. It’s not a hobby I was able to pick up without considerable training and guidance. As a lifelong tennis player, I am/was by no means out of shape; however, prolonged cardiovascular activity, ie running, has never come easy for me, since my sport of choice requires speed and aerobic activity in spurts– plus, my genetics aren’t exactly athletic (this is a house of learned doctors). Also, looking the part of a runner is half the battle, and my athletic arsenal contained zero running gear.
I was determined to change all of this, since even though my running aptitude was borderline pathetic, I still felt the satisfaction of a runner’s high whenever I’d suck it up and try. I started tracking my progress, and within a few weeks, I was able to run a full mile… then a 5K… and then a 10K. If I can do it, trust me, anyone can do it. Whether you’re on a personal mission to make running your favorite pastime or you just need to burn some extra calories, here are 10 simple running tips for bettering your cardio game.
1. Invest in the right running shoes
The wrong pair of shoes can be your ultimate downfall. Seek the help of your local running store. Although big name brand shoe stores could potentially have knowledgeable staff, as well, running experts will break down the right shoe-buying strategies and ensure you’re selecting the right shoe for you and your running style.
2. Set small and obtainable goals
If you haven’t run in over a year, the odds are you won’t be able to run a 5K on the first try. In fact, you may not even be able to finish a lap around the track. Pace yourself, and set obtainable realistic goals to build mileage gradually. I followed Hal Hidgon’s novice-level Couch to 5K program when I first started, and it was simple, realistic, and most importantly, effective.
3. Dress comfortably
Invest in some technical running gear. The right type of fabric, like Nike’s Dri-FIT line, keeps athletes dry and comfortable by evaporating sweat at the fabric surface. Not only will you look the part, but you’ll feel the part. Although they’re a little pricier, my personal favorite designers of quality running/active gear are Under Armour, Lululemon, and Athleta.
4. Make a banging playlist
Some people say it’s necessary to run in silence in order to tap into your inner runner– or something involving the mechanics of your strides, breathing, and overall technique. You may fall into this category, but I certainly don’t. I must have music in order to muster up the energy to finish my run. I’ve created six or seven different playlists on Spotify to mix up my music– and my run– every day.
5. Drink enough water
This tip is somewhat obvious, but it’s so important. Hydrate before you exercise or you may fall victim to premature fatigue or cramping. Also, watch for dehydration during your run. If you feel like you’ve pushed yourself too far without enough water, slow down, catch your breath, and take a break.
6. Fuel yourself
Similarly to water, your body needs fuel in order to perform, and the timing of such fueling is key. If possible, eat a mixture of carbs and protein about an hour before your run. Don’t wait to eat either, since eating too close before or after your run can cause stomach issues.
7. Prevent all possible bodily mishaps
Don’t let bodily malfunctions stop you from getting the most out of your workout. Designed for the temporary management of Stress Urinary Incontinence, Poise* Impressa* Bladder Supports help support and prevent leaks before they happen. Impressa comes in three different sizes, and their Sizing Kit, which includes six bladder supports (two of each size), along with a $4 coupon toward a 10-count single-size pack of Impressa, helps you find your most effective and comfortable internal fit.
8. Have a can-do attitude
Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure. Remember that it takes time and persistence to reach your goals, and you will. However, you do need to listen to you body, since running through pain is one of the worst things you can do to your body. If you’re feeling more than workout-related muscle soreness, don’t run. Maybe stick with abs for a few days.
9. Warm up and cool down
Warm up your muscles before your run by walking five or ten minutes. Experienced runners often skip a warm up, since many doctors say it’s not imperative if you’re confident and capable of running without injury. After your run, if you’re feeling any tension or excess tightness, do some stretch-and-hold exercises to cool down and relieve any discomfort. For specific exercises, check out this great article.
Be sure and get enough rest. It’s just as important as your work out. If you don’t get proper sleep and/or aerobic down time, your body may not have time to fully repair before your next run, making you feel sore, tired, sluggish, and unhappy.
Marathon conquerers, what did I miss?! Tell me your secrets!