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Becoming a Better Runner in 5 Ways

Updated on November 1, 2013

Running is a basic skill we are mostly familiar with and have associated with play, but when it becomes a daily habit or a weekend hobby, innocently running about can become a strenuous exercise or activity that requires more than the usual exertion of time and energy. Running, as a basic locomotor function and done in short distances, is different from running, a form of heavy exercise according to the US Department of Health. Running, the sport, requires warming-up, preparation, post-workout care, and constant watch on your body’s form. For first-time runners, or marathoners, as they are often called, engaging in this activity may require more than just identifying a direction and moving towards it.

If you wish to make this activity a part of your day-to-day health regimen, you must pay attention to your form, your attitude towards running, workout habits, and even your clothing.

Finding the Right Motivation: Why Should You Run?

It all starts with developing strict discipline. Every successful undertaking, not just running, starts with a desire to become better. Whatever has motivated you to take up running as a sport in the first place should stay in your heart and mind and become the cornerstone on which you build your habits. If you choose to engage in running “just for the heck of it”, you might not successfully turn the exercise into a habit. We all need a place to start-- and it is called motivation.

Whether you choose to run to lose weight or do something about your cardio, you will need to find the right motivator, which can also be a series of reasons, when starting out. An unmotivated runner may soon quit after the first few laps or worse, run only depending on mood. Either way, running without a purpose and quitting the habit abruptly are both unhealthy.

Understand Your Body and Your Form

Paying attention to your form as your run, or do anything strenuous, at that, has solid health reasons behind it. Running, without understanding your body’s movement and speed could lead to injuries, some reparable, some not.

Before running, be mindful of your gait, posture, and form. Do not add too much pressure on your knees and hips with hopes to outrun other runners. Doing so increases chances of muscle impact and injuries. If you are running for the first time, start out on softer trails or on smooth terrain so as not to experience muscle pain.

Proper Warm Up Can Help You Run Longer, Faster

Proper warm up is not just customary before doing anything heavy, it is also necessary to minimize muscle injuries. Professional marathoners suggest walking briskly about or jogging in place instead of stretching as your warm-up exercise. Should you wish to do any stretching, try hand, arm, and shoulder exercises, instead of bending and pulling on your leg muscles. Breathing exercises, walking, and shaking your hands and fingers are also ideal warm up exercises to help you get started.

What to Do in the Event of Injuries

Injuring yourself during a run is normal, but it should not be taken lightly. Some running injuries can be easily remedied with ice, bandages and patches, but other kinds of injuries may require medical attention. Either way, it is important for runners to be careful when on the road and to attend to injuries as soon as you begin to experience them. For example, it is highly recommended to apply ice on aches immediately, not an hour or two after you feel the pain.

If you have an injury, do not take a bath in warm water nor use the hot tub. Doing so will only slow down healing and increase inflammation in the muscles. If you experience any body cramps, breath through your abdomen to get rid of the pain.

Your Clothing Matters

Any activity is best done when wearing the appropriate clothes. For runners, don proper running gear made with the right material. Some textiles like cotton may cause chaffing. To prevent cotton from rubbing against your skin, wear spandex shorts underneath your usual running gear or apply Vaseline or Neosporin wherever your clothes rub. Chaffes and blisters can be nasty things to have so invest in the right running shoes, running clothes, and technical clothing for a better running experience.

To run better, faster, and more comfortably, professional marathoners also suggest wearing cooling gear for runners. They are comfortable especially under the summer sun, but may also be worn during colder seasons. Cooling visors, for example, can keep you from sweating too much around your forehead and at the same time, keep the sun from hitting you directly in the face.

Finally, a short run is better than no run at all, so don’t be swayed from running depending on the weather. Run alone, run with a friend, and run wherever towards any direction. Love what you are doing and soon enough, running will no longer be a strenuous activity for you.

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