Running often gets a bad rap as being too hard, too boring, and too tough on your joints. Truth is, as with any workout, it’s going to feel harder than it needs to be without proper technique and training. Follow these 10 must-try solutions for everything from achy knees to a lack of motivation, and you’ll soon be looking forward to lacing up your sneakers and hitting the trails (or at least dreading it a whole lot less).
1. Shorten your steps.
No matter how well cushioned the heel of your shoe is, your body isn’t designed to land on it when running, experts say. Shorter strides help you land in the middle of your foot, activating your body’s natural shock absorbers.
2. Go up a shoe size.
Your feet increase anywhere from one to one-and-a-half shoes sizes when you run. For those new to running, fluid can pool in your extremities, making them swell. Also, when purchasing sneakers, make sure to buy running shoes, not walking shoes. Sneakers are designed for runners and have thicker soles with more cushion and stability.
4. Splurge on socks.
Yes, there’s a difference between $1 and $10 socks. Fabrics that “wick sweat,” including synthetics (like CoolMax) and lightweight wool (like SmartWool), limit friction-causing moisture. Avoid cotton socks, which hold in dampness.
5. Build your thigh muscles.
One of the most common causes of knee pain is weak hips and thighs, which absorb impact.It is essential to maintain good strength in these muscle, to avoid any knee injuries.
6. Blister-proof your feet with lubricant.
Long distance runners swear by this. Apply a lubricant such as petroleum jelly to your heels, sides of your toes, or any blister-prone zone before putting your socks on. Friction, the rubbing motion between foot, sock and shoe creates heat and tearing forces, which make the skin prone to blisters. Reduce the friction, reduce the blisters! By lubricating your feet they will slide rather than rub. If you do feel a blister coming on, act fast: Apply an adhesive bandage, or more lubricant to the tender area.
7. Don’t go solo.
Not only is exercising with a friend more fun than going alone, but the company also may make your workout feel easier by passing the time quicker. There’s nothing like a good conversation to make the time fly by.
8. Slow your pace.
Running at a gentler speed will pay off later. As your endurance improves, your body will become more efficient at converting oxygen into energy. Then you’ll be able to go faster without running out of steam.
9. Inhale through your nose and mouth.
Quite simply, you need more oxygen to support running or walking fast, and using both your nose and mouth is the most efficient way to get it, is to alternate your breathing. Try inhale of three steps exhale for two and alternate breathing through your mouth and then your nose.Inhale and exhale smoothly and continuously.
10. Belly breathing for efficiency.
Allowing your chest and belly to expand as you take a breath relaxes your body so it can get oxygen to your muscles more efficiently during exercise. Practice it while you’re on hold or waiting in line at the grocery store, then try it while you run.