Running isn’t easy. You need the kit. You need the time. Sometimes you also need the motivation. I am lucky enough to be genetically hardwired for running; a history of runners in the family means there is no phobia of lacing up the trainers and going for a nice, long stride. That’s not to say I do still have my good days, my bad days, and those in-between days. We all need a few tips and tricks on how to get out there or really tackle that 5k time, and below are a few things I do to improve exactly that…
Check out the bottom of the article for a few handy running tools.
Join a Virtual Running Club
You could choose Nike Running Club, Strava, or any of the other plethora of virtual running clubs that exist in the technological world. They all have one thing in common though; motivation through both your own achievement and others’, and accountability for your actions. Nike Running Club is a personal favourite with its fully customisable leaderboards as well as plenty of weekly and monthly challenges from the Nike team. There’s no need to put undue pressure on yourself every time you head out for a run, but it really is an excellent way to promote some healthy competition.
Again, those running apps will help here too. It is (surely) impossible to count efficiently when you are in full stride, and so a running app with GPS in a great way to analyse those split times over each kilometre. I almost always set off too fast, and it’s great to see where I then tail off, and exactly where the fatigue sets in. It helps me to plan, mentally, where I need to ease off slightly and where I need to increase my efforts. Effort levels aren’t always the most accurate measure of a run, so it’s good to have those hard numbers.
Wear the Right Running Shoes
Never underestimate the power of a good running shoe; they are unbelievably important to both your pace and condition. A poorly-fitted shoe can cause injury, and a well-fitted and well-made running shoe can be your ultimate running partner; just ask Eliud Kipchoge who smash the two-hour marathon barrier in his carbon fibre Nike Next% . If you can get to a fitting and try on a few different brands then do; every brand has a unique USP that may, or may not, be right for your needs.
Stretch On and Stretch Off
Warming up and cooling down are arguably as important as the run itself. The body, unfortunately, doesn’t have an ability to instantaneously lengthen muscles before a run, or magically disappear all of the lactic acid after it. Warming up properly will prevent injury and get you mentally prepared for a race. If you cool down properly, you should feel less pain in the hours or days after. I really try to include both every time I go for a run, and my susceptibility to the dreaded DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) has definitely dropped. Whereas I would often find I have sore hips after running, the have definitely improved since I have shifted more focus onto my stretches.
Don’t Run the Same Route Every Time
Honestly, try it. Your body (and more specifically mind) has an incredible ability to engrain pain into the memory. If you are running the same route day in, day out, you’ll soon start to know where your kilometre markers before your app does. Change it up and any expectations of pain and suffering will disappear. Perhaps have a few alternative routes (and route lengths) and rotate them each week. After trying out a few different routes, I now know the distance and the terrain of each. Very useful if you want to finish back at home while still giving 100%.
Experiment with Running Conditions
In a similar vein, experiment with other variables when you run. One of the main factors, I find, is time of day. As an early-riser my peak time is definitely before 10am. Anything after midday becomes increasingly difficult and the fatigue really starts to set in well before the 5km mark. Another factor is food; are you someone who prefers to run post-breakfast or fasted? Try and change these up and see how your body reacts. There are also some people who prefer running in the rain as opposed to running in fair weather. Whatever it may be, try it and see how you get on.
How Many Calories Does Running Burn?
As a general rule, you will burn between 110-160kcal per mile of running depending on your weight. Try the calculator below for a more in depth look at how many calories you burn when running.