18 Tips for Running Success

Woman running on wooden path
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Training for your first race?  Trying to PR in the marathon? Whatever your running goal or level, there are always small changes you can make to improve your running. Here’s some advice to help you reach your goals, avoid injuries, and take your running to the next level. 

1. Don’t skip the warm up.
No matter what type of run you're doing, it's important to warm-up beforehand to get the blood flowing and your muscles warmed up for exercise.

A warm-up can be a 5-minute brisk walk or slow jog, or warm-up exercises such as marching in place, jumping jacks, knee lifts, or butt kicks.

2. Avoid the "terrible too's".
Many running injuries are a result of overtraining: too much intensity, too many miles, too soon. Don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% each week. You can still push yourself, but be patient and take a gradual approach. Use common sense and a smart training schedule to decide how much you should be running.

3. Take rest days.
Most runners need at least one, even two, days off from running a week. Research has shown that taking at least one day off a week reduces the frequency of overuse injuries. Your body will have a chance to recover and repair itself, and you'll actually feel better during your runs. If you’re just getting started with running, you may want to run every other day, to give yourself enough recovery time.

You can take a complete rest day or do a cross-training activity.

4. Eat well.
To perform your best, you need to have a balanced, nutritious diet. Try to keep your fridge and pantry stocked with foods that make up a nutritious, heart-healthy diet, such as whole grains, fish, lean meats, vegetables and fruits.

They'll provide essential nutrients, help fuel your workouts properly and aid in your post-run recovery. Try to minimize the amount of processed foods you eat. 

5. Treat yourself.
Giving yourself little rewards for running will help keep you motivated. That doesn’t mean you need to celebrate every run with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But give yourself something to look forward to after big runs or races, such as a pedicure, a massage, or a new piece of running gear. Find ways to celebrate your running progress.

6. Hydrate during runs.
If you're running longer than 30 minutes, you really need to hydrate during your run to avoid the effects of dehydration. The current fluid recommendations for runners say that you should drink when your mouth is dry and you feel the need to drink.

7. Learn to love hills.
Adding a hill workout every week or two will make you a faster, more confident, stronger runner. You’ll improve your overall strength and running efficiency.

8. Don’t ignore warning signs.
Listen to your body and be aware of the injury warning signs, such as pain or discomfort that gets worse as you keep running or causes you to change your gait.

9. Get fitted for running shoes. 
Don’t buy a pair of running shoes because you like the brand or the colors.

 Wearing the wrong running shoes for your feet and running style can lead to injuries. If you've never had a running gait analysis done, go to a running specialty store, where they can do one and recommend the right shoes for you.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Becoming a better runner and staying injury-free may require you to seek help from a running coach, trainer, massage therapist, physical therapist or other expert. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or spend money on massages, training sessions, or PT appointments. Your health is worth the investment! 

11. Run on trails.
Try to find dirt trails or paths to run on, especially for your higher mileage runs.

Running in nature is a great distraction and your body will thank you for the softer, easier surface.

12. Add strength-training to your routine. 
Core and lower body exercises are very beneficial for improving performance and preventing injuries. Many running injuries, especially knee and hip-related problems, develop because of muscle weaknesses or imbalances.

13. Use a foam roller. 
You can use a foam roller, a cylindrical piece of foam, to help prevent and treat running injuries. Using your own body weight and a foam roller, you can perform a self-massage that offers similar benefits as deep-tissue massage such as stretching muscles and tendons, decreasing muscle tension, breaking up trigger points, soothing tight fascia, and increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues. Foam rollers are a convenient, less expensive alternative to professional massages. They're especially helpful if you’re prone to ITB Syndrome and tight calves or hamstrings.

14. Don’t make excuses.
Be prepared for the usual excuses for not running so you don’t fall victim to them. For example, if you’re too tired to exercise, make a commitment to getting to bed earlier and eating healthier.   

15. Be prepared for bad weather.
You’ll run better and feel a lot more comfortable if you’re properly dressed for the weather conditions. Check out these tips for dressing for cold, hot, and rainy weather.

16. Run with others.
Running with a group or one buddy is one of the best ways to stay motivated to keep running. You’ll hold each other accountable and push each other keep going or run harder.

17. Run for a reason.
Running for something that's bigger than you is a great way to stay motivated to keep training and can make your races even more meaningful and fulfilling. Pick a cause that’s near and dear to your heart and run a race that benefits it. Or, run and fundraise in honor or memory of someone special.

18. Pick a running mantra.
Picking a short phase that you play over and over in your head while running can help you stay focused and determined to keep going. Finding a running mantra isn't hard. Pick one that fits your running style and personality, such as: "Easy does it" or "Harder, faster, stronger" or "Never give up". You can choose different ones for races, hills workouts, long runs, etc.