Regardless of how long you have been a runner, it’s important now and then to go back to the basics. It’s easy to fall into a detrimental running habit without even knowing it. Remembering some running basics will help you stay on track, prevent injury, and make your run more enjoyable.
Get a full night of sleep
Your body needs time to repair. Don’t skimp on your nightly sleep. If you aren’t feeling refreshed and energized when you wake up, then you aren’t getting enough sleep. Try catching a power nap mid-day with your toddler or head to bed an hour earlier to get a full 8 hours of sleep.
According to Active’s article How Much Sleep Do Runners Need?, following a long run you will need a little extra sleep to recover. Be consistent with your sleep schedule, make sleep a priority, and develop good sleep habits.
If you are feeling fatigued, don’t rely on energy drinks or caffeine. A 30-minute power nap will be much more effective than a sugary caffeinated drink.
Keep your muscles flexible. Stretching before and after a run will help prevent injuries. Use foam rollers to stretch and massage your muscles. Using a foam roller before a run will help wake up your joints and muscles. Adding foam rollers to your routine after the run may help alleviate some soreness.
Try one of these 5 foam roller exercises recommended by Prevention to relieve pain.
Strengthen your core
Maintaining a strong core will help you control your body alignment by stabilizing your body and improving your form.
Proper body alignment reduces injury while increasing energy efficiency. The front of the hip and torso should be slightly forward as the foot lands directly beneath you. The back of your head should be aligned with your spine. To achieve proper alignment, keep your eyes forward not down, to the side, or constantly turning your head to look behind you. The center of your body should be over the leg as the foot makes contact with the pavement.
Fatigue and poor posture can cause you to slump creating misalignment and increasing the risk of injury. Further, improper alignment can decrease your energy level during your run. By adding a core workout to your running routine, you will begin to see improvements in your time and in how you feel.
Invest in comfort
Running can put a great amount of stress on your body. Injuries often occur due to faulty equipment and clothing. Wear clothing and shoes that add comfort to your run.
Discomfort and injury will keep you off the road. Prevent them by investing in comfortable running shoes, compression socks, work out clothes that fit and wick away sweat, the right sports bra, and weather appropriate gear.
Find a purpose
Goals are great. They help get us off the couch and moving. But if a goal doesn’t dig into areas that motivate and inspire us, the goal will fizzle and die.
Find a purpose that keeps you moving. Sign up for a marathon that is raising money for a local charity or event that you support. Pick a charity that speaks to your values and provides you with the feeling of making the world just a little bit better.
Keep a running journal. Right down your SMART goals and keep a daily log of your run distance, how you felt, any challenges you faced, and more. Over time you will begin to pick up patterns.
Sit down at the end of the week or the month and review the previous entries. Were you feeling extra sluggish one day? Did you experience an injury? Do any patterns emerge that contribute to your run?
A journal allows you to monitor pains throughout your body and determine if the pain is an isolated occurrence or if it is something that needs to be addressed by your doctor. Over time, this record will provide you with data, allowing you to optimize your run for the specific benefits you desire.
Change up your routine
A journal will also help you see what habits you’re creating. Sometimes those habits creep in unaware and surprise us when we discover them. This will help when you feel like you’ve hit a wall in your progress.
Routines are great and help us remain consistent. However, routines can also keep us from reaching the next level because they’re comfortable. By changing up your routine, trying a new route, a new time of day, a new diet, or even adding a running partner, you may be on the verge of discovering something that’s more productive.
Don’t get so tied into one way of doing something that you stall your progress. Switch it up a bit. Be adventurous. If it doesn’t work, you can always adjust.
Don’t compare your progress with anyone else’s run. The goal is simply improvement. If you give your all during each run, you’re making strides towards achieving your goals.
Stay positive. Give your best and be proud of every accomplishment. Listen to your body and take care of it by providing it proper nutrition, rest, and running equipment. When something hurts address it. When you need rest, rest.
Remember why you are running and what you love the most about it. Don’t allow yourself to get so busy that you forget to invest this small amount of time in you. Instead, remind yourself regularly of the basics of running and the joy it brings to your life.