Running. People love it or hate it.
And some really wish they could like it - even just a little.
Truth be told, there are indeed several tips and tricks that have the power to immediately change your mindset and abilities when it comes to pounding the pavement.
- Give it a minute (or four). Everyone's first few minutes suck. There is science behind this. And no matter how advanced you are in the running department, your body undergoes the same transition the second you graduate from a walk to a jog. Changes to your energy system can mean that for those initial few minutes (usually 2-4) , you will feel short of breath while your body is transitioning to provide a higher level of oxygen consumption. Once this happens, (some call it their second wind) a steady state is achieved and people feel more comfortable. (This, however, does not apply to HIIT sprints which have other energy requirements.)
Reign it in. As much fun as it is to be pumped up to get your run going and give it all you got (because look at you go!), the reality is that you can crush your reserve in the first few minutes with the wrong level of effort. While I recognize you have all the motivation and desire to get it over with as soon as possible, trust me when I tell you that initially running slower than you'd like means you are allowing your body to make the proper adjustments. Focus on building up to a strong, speedy finish. A sprint at the end can help build endurance and shave off time.
Organize your playlist pace. You may not believe you have swagger on the dance floor, but your brain is excellent at ordering your feet to run in time with the tempo. Start your playlist with inspiring or meaningfully worded songs that will keep you at a slow-to-moderate pace and then build up to a beat that will automatically put you in high gear to end at your fastest pace. Trust me when I tell you it's the most fun way to finish!
Relax. You may not know it, but your upper body naturally tenses up when you run. Feeling an ache in your shoulders is a signal that you are wasting a lot of energy being tense instead of channeling it to the blur of your feet. The same goes for your hands. Lose the fists and focus on keeping your hands and wrists relaxed. Think Jazz hands!
Set visual goals. In the beginning stages of becoming a runner or trying to increase your distance, skip the monotony of running for a specific amount of time and use the landscape as your guide. If you know your route, decide on a landmark that you will run to. Make it achievable but also enforce it - no matter how slow you jog your way there, you MUST not walk before you get there. Once you meet the marker, if you feel you have to walk to recover, then by all means. You deserve it. No one said you have to run it all.
Don't put pressure on yourself. Every run is different. And your body has a lot going on to determine if it's a good run day or a bad one. (Ladies, the week before Aunt Flo? Yeah, not fun) Don't force yourself beyond what your body is capable of. Keep in mind that EVERY run will help improve your abilities, no matter how painful or ugly. Some days you will fly and others maybe not so much. Who cares? You're lapping everyone on the couch.