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August 11, 2022  |  Sports & Fitness

Improve your run with these running tips and products

Running is one of those activities that can be a hobby, a lifestyle, an addiction or something in between. Like other pursuits that last a lifetime, such as golfing or fishing, the goal is to improve, but success is measured on an individual scale. Your dream might be to finish a 5K, while someone else might be trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

No matter what your level is, there is something you could be doing to get better. Here are some tips, strategies and products you can use to help attain your running goals.

The 5 steps to excelling in any endeavor

Whatever you desire to accomplish in life, there is a five-step plan that can get you there. The five steps are as follows:

Establish a baseline

The first step is to take an honest assessment of your current abilities. You need to have a starting point if you want to measure your progress. With running, there are two basic parameters: speed and distance (or duration). It’s not only about how fast you can get from point A to point B, but how far it is from point A to point B.

Set an obtainable goal

Once you have established your baseline, consider your goal. It is important to make that goal attainable. If you can only run for 15 minutes at a time, your first goal should not be to compete in a triathlon. However, it is important to make the goal something you have to work for, so you have a challenge. Perhaps your first goal is to run for 30 minutes without stopping.

Determine a strategy

Think about what steps you need to take to accomplish your goal and map out a strategy (or training program). For example, doubling the amount of time you can run means you will have to build up your strength, your stamina, strengthen your cardiovascular system and more. All of these factors should be included in your training program. Your strategy should be clearly defined, not just something vague like “run longer” — although that may be part of your plan.

Be dedicated and diligent

Once you have a plan in place, create a schedule or a routine that you can stick to. This must be something that fits into your day and doesn’t require an unreasonable amount of time. Don’t forget to leave ample room for recovery. Running just two to three days each week, for instance, is not a bad plan for someone who is just starting out. The other days could involve walking or mild strength training.

Repeat as necessary

If your goal is truly obtainable and you develop a strategy that you stick to, eventually, you will achieve your goal. When that happens, it is time to take the next step. Now that you can run for 30 minutes without stopping, pick a new goal. If you choose to work on speed, establish a baseline (time yourself), set an obtainable, map out a strategy, and be dedicated and diligent. Progress is measured in a series of successfully completed steps.

Running tips

  • Train with friends. It is easier to let yourself down than it is to disappoint your friends. Running with a group helps ensure you don’t miss any workout days. 
  • Eat for fuel. Running burns a lot of calories. Eating empty calories will eventually leave you feeling depleted. If you are running with any regularity, you need a balanced diet that fuels (and replenishes) you.
  • Proper-fitting running shoes are essential. Whether you need men’s running shoes or women’s running shoes, it is important to purchase a pair that fits correctly. Running shoes that are too large or too small can cause a number of foot and ankle problems. Also, consider which shoes are best for the level of arch support you need.
  • Increase your stride turnover. Your stride turnover is how many steps you take in a minute. If you can increase from 120 to 150, you will be running faster.
  • Focus on form. If you don’t think proper form is important, consider how frustrating it is trying to push that shopping cart with the wobbly wheel. Focus on form to improve the quality of your running.
  • Recognize the difference between discomfort and pain. A little discomfort is not only OK, but it’s expected with running. Pain, however, is bad. It’s the body’s way of telling you something is wrong.
  • Use a running watch. Wearing a running watch is like having a doctor and a coach on your wrist. If you are even just a little bit serious about training, a running watch is a great investment.
  • Utilize music. Not only will your favorite music give you an energy boost, the tempo can be utilized to help you grow comfortable running at a faster pace. A good pair of running headphones can help you accomplish your goals.
  • Give yourself time to recover. Running takes a toll on the body. If you don’t allow adequate time for recovery between workouts, you may find you are losing speed and stamina, not gaining it.
  • Stay hydrated. Water keeps your body functioning as it should. Without water, for instance, you won’t have the synovial fluid needed to prevent friction between your bones. 

FAQ

Q. Is it good to run with weights?

A. Running with weights can be beneficial, but they put an added strain on the body. For the most part, weights should only be worn under supervision and are usually only necessary for serious athletes. A weighted vest is a good option because it evenly disperses weight across the upper body, but it should never weigh more than 10% of the runner’s overall body weight. Wrist weights can help burn calories, but should never be more than three pounds. A weighted backpack can add strain to the back and cause poor form, so it is not a good option. Ankle weights change a runner’s gait, put unnecessary stress on the joints, and can create a tripping hazard when the runner gets tired. There is no reason a runner should ever train with ankle weights.

Q. Is it safe to run outside with earbuds?

A. Yes, it’s safe to wear earbuds while running outside. Music can be very beneficial to a runner’s performance. However, you should only use earbuds that have a transparency mode. Additionally, the runner must listen at a low enough volume that the music won’t block out environmental sounds or damage the ears. When running outside, you must always be aware of what is around you.

Q. How does my weight affect my running?

A. Running is an excellent way to reduce your weight. It burns a lot of calories, and may continue burning calories even after you are done exercising. However, running with excess weight can cause several negative repercussions. If you carry excess body weight, it makes your heart work harder, you will require more oxygen, your body temperature can elevate and the stress on your joints may actually be damaging. If you are above your ideal body weight, talk to a physician to determine if a high-impact activity like running is right for you.

What you need to buy to improve your running

These are our 3 favorite products to bring on a run.

Whenever you perform an activity, having the right gear is key to your success. This video talks about the three most important things for a runner to have. Following are a number of other items you will want to consider if you’d like to improve your run.

Theragun Pro

Theragun Pro

A massage targets specific muscles to increase blood flow so they can get the nutrients they need and carry away the metabolic waste that causes discomfort. The Theragun PRO is one of the top massage guns on the market. Use it to aid in recovery and feel better after working out.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Macy’s and Therabody

Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro

Besides the all-important transparency mode that helps keep you safe from your environment, these earbuds have a comfortable fit and advanced technology such as adaptive EQ and spatial audio to create a better listening experience.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Staples

Brooks Men's Adrenaline GTS 22 Supportive Running Shoe

Brooks Men's Adrenaline GTS 22 Supportive Running Shoe

Your feet endure a lot of abuse when you run. To protect them, you need quality running shoes. This offering from Brooks has a holistic support system that protects not only your feet but also the rest of your body as you work out.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Macy’s

Brooks Women's Ghost 14 Running Shoes

Brooks Women's Ghost 14 Running Shoes

These rugged running shoes have a tough forefront and heel for durability. The segmented crash pad absorbs shock and cushions every stride to protect your feet and joints from the impacts associated with running.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Backcountry, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Macy’s

Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker

Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker

This little device tracks biometrics and performance so you have the data needed to improve your run. If you’d like to up your game to a triathlon, this model is also swimproof.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

AfterShokz Air Bone Conduction Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

AfterShokz Air Bone Conduction Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

These open-ear headphones conduct audio through the cheekbone. This means your ears are always able to hear the sounds of your environment to help keep you safe. The multifunction button makes it easy to control your playlist.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Staples

GoFit Massage Roller

GoFit Massage Roller

This therapeutic roller has a solid core covered by a soft foam exterior. It has a variety of patterns that can target several muscles to provide deep-tissue relief.

Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Staples

Nike 2.5-pound Wrist Weights

Nike 2.5-pound Wrist Weights

If you’d like to safely add a little intensity to your running workout, these wrist weights can help. They have a moisture-wicking liner for comfort and a hook-and-loop closure for security.

Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Kohl’s

Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

When you are running, you are exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Sun Bum’s SPF 50 sunscreen can help protect you. It moisturizes as it provides protection and is a vegan- and reef-friendly product. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

E Tronic Edge Running Belt

E Tronic Edge Running Belt 

There are certain things you should have on you when running. Identification is a big one, but some people also need to exercise with keys and want to bring along their phones. You need a safe place to carry these items so you can run without worrying about losing anything. This running belt gives you a secure place to hold small essentials.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks

Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks

Compression socks aren’t just for recovery. You can wear them while running to provide support and help with circulation. This pair has moisture-wicking capabilities that help keep you dry and comfortable.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Fitly Soft Water Bottle

Fitly Soft Water Bottle

Hydration is essential. This uniquely designed water bottle is lightweight and shrinks as you drink to keep water from sloshing around while you run.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Body Glide Original Anti-Chafe Balm

Body Glide Original Anti-Chafe Balm

Anywhere that two surfaces rub together, you can develop a painful abrasion while running. This anti-chafe balm can be applied to any area you experience chafing. It is allergen-free, plant-derived, vegan-approved and child-safe.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

P-TEX Blister and Nipple Protector

P-TEX Blister and Nipple Protector

Once you start to run for any appreciable distance, you are going to encounter some extremely uncomfortable situations, such as nipple chafing. These little pads can protect you, so you never have to experience the discomfort of this condition.

Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Nike Dri-Fit Home and Away Reversible Headband

Nike Dri-Fit Home and Away Reversible Headband

When you exercise, you sweat. This is a good thing because it regulates your body temperature. However, when sweat gets in your eyes, it is not fun. This reversible headband can help keep you comfortable while working hard.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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