Running is quite possibly the oldest sport known to man. Whether our forefathers engaged in this noble pursuit recreationally or out of necessity, mankind has been running since the dawn of time…and maybe even before that.
As a youth and as a young man I always dabbled in running as a means of staying in shape for whatever sport was coming up next. But about three years ago, I began to run as an end unto itself. In reflecting upon my running journey thus far, here are 8 tips I’ve discovered that will keep you improving in your running, and will also keep your running fresh and fun.
1. Run Barefoot: This discovery alone has transformed the way I run. It took me from running as a chore to stay in shape, to putting away the miles effortlessly. Running barefoot increases foot strength and supports your body’s natural running form. As you run, you’ll notice your alignment and posture will get better, your back will straighten and your lungs will take in more oxygen. While I don’t recommend logging all your weekly mileage running barefoot, running 5-10 minutes a week for the beginner is a good way to start. For more info from the experts check out Barefoot Ted or Ken Bob. These two are the modern day gurus of barefoot running.
|Barefoot Ted McDonald is considered by many to be one|
of the top endurance athletes of all time.
3. Bring Water: As a competitive athlete for most of my life, running was viewed as an act of pure conditioning to cultivate mental toughness. I.E. water was an award for after the run. When I began training for marathons and ultramarathons, I had to eventually learn to run with water and drink on the go. I’ve found this makes the running experience more enjoyable. You’ll recover faster and prevent all kinds of running related injuries with this simple practice. Nowadays even if it’s just a short 30-minute run, I still bring a bottle of water with me. There are tons of options for bringing water with you while you run. My favorite is this handheld bottle made by Ultimate Direction.
|My favorite hydration tool:|
The Handy 20 by
|McKinney Roughs Nature Park: |
One of my favorite ways to "Mix it Up"
6. Walking is Good: In my past as a competitive athlete, walking was never an option. When running became my main form of exercise, this mentality carried over. You were literally more likely to find me dead on the side of the road in pursuit of my daily mileage than to see me walking. I’ve learned from the error of my ways. As ultramarathoning legend Dean Karnazes says, “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must, just never give up.” There’s no shame in walking if you have to. You are still going to build up your endurance and spend time on your feet. In fact, I walked during portions of my last marathon, something I’ve never done before, and I still finished with a personal best. Walking will also help with recovery time if you’re doing a long run.
7. Crosstrain: Along the same lines as the “Mix it Up” point, crosstraining is vital. It will keep you strong, keep you fast, and most importantly it is great for injury prevention. In my case, I mix in one day a week of crossfit and one day a week of weight training. Other runners I talk to like to mix in a day of swimming, biking or hiking. Have fun with it. It’s a great way to “take a day off” by still keeping your fitness level up. Crosstraining also aids in building up strength in areas of your body that may be neglected if all you do is run. Balance is vital for the joyful runner, and crosstraining provides much needed balance.
8. Have Fun: At the end of the day is this not what it’s all about? I wouldn’t keep doing it if it wasn’t fun, and neither would the millions of others out there who are passionate about running. So on the days your miles seem insurmountable, just remember to keep it light, keep it fun and to be thankful that you can keep on running.