Start Chasing Your Running Gains with these 7 Tips

There are two kinds of people in the cardio world: those of us who love running and those of us who hate it.  Tweet This!

 

If running is a regular part of your cardio training, you know that running is a great way to burn those calories, boost your endurance and spend some much-needed quality time with yourself or other runners. But if you’re new to the running game, it can seem daunting and overwhelming, or on the flip side, just straight up boring.

The good news is that even if you’re currently feeling off your A-game, running is a great activity for anyone to try, regardless of age or fitness level. Even if you tried and gave up on it in the past, there are ways to tailor your running strategy to best fit your goals and exercise style.

Check out these seven running tips to help you start chasing your fitness gains:  Tweet This!

 

1) Start slow, build gradually.

If you are super new to running, the most important thing to keep in mind is this: Do not go hard or go home Tweet This!

 

It’s the tendency of many of us to decide on a whim that we want to start running because “its great cardio, and I need to lose some weight.” So we say to ourselves something to the tune of “I’m going to run three miles every other day,” as we daydream about how amazingly in-shape we are going to be. Then we end up burning ourselves out in the first week – or worse, injuring ourselves. A great way to get a terrible bout of runner’s knee (more on that later) is by doing too much too quickly. It’s important for new runners to start off slowly and concentrate on building a solid foundation of strength and endurance. Ease your body into what you are asking it to do. As you start to adjust, you will build muscle and you’ll build confidence as you begin to see yourself being able to do more and more.

2) Not all running is created equally.

The beauty of running is that you can incorporate it into any workout regimen to help you achieve almost any fitness goal. We all have different goals, so it’s good news that not all types of running produce the same results. For example, think about those who run track and field vs those who run cross country. Yes, they are both runners, but their output is very different. Sprinters run fast, short-distances with heavy output, while cross country runners focus on going for the distance with a steady, consistent output. Before you begin a running program, think about what is most important to you. Do you want to focus more on improving that mile time? Are you trying to run your first half-marathon? Are you trying to build muscle? Lose weight? Boost your endurance? Once you define your goals, you can decide how to optimize your running strategy to make it happen.

3) Change it up a little!

Running the same route for the same amount of time for the same distance every other day will start to get boring pretty fast. Eventually you will start to notice that your body will begin to get used to the stress and it will start to feel easier, ultimately resulting in a plateau for your fitness gains. So, to keep your body on its toes (literally and figuratively), try some of these methods to add variety and change up your usual running routine:

  • If you are used to casually jogging for a mile or two, try to throw in some sprints one day a week. It will active those fast twitch muscle fibers that you don’t typically use during a steady-paced jog and will help you build muscle and burn fat.

“Fast twitch muscle fibers are characterized by high force production and low resistance to fatigue. Most commonly, fast twitch muscle fibers are associated with high intensity activity such as maximal sprinting. Work is performed at a very high intensity but for a very brief duration.”

– Dr. Michael Hartman Director, Research & Development for AdvoCare Scientific Operations

  • A weight vest is a great way to throw your body for a loop without actually changing your routine. Even just by running your regular route, you’re having to carry more weight than usual, so your body is having to increase its energy output to get the same results that you would without wearing it.
  • If you’re feeling open-minded, you should also try running with others! It’s a great way to pace yourself and gives you an extra boost of motivation as you try to keep up with the group. “Last Man Up” running with a group is a great exercise to include sprints and jogging into one workout. All runners line up single-file and begin at a slow jog. The person in the back sprints to the front of the line, returns to the slow jog, and raises their hand, signaling the next runner in the back to sprint to the front, etc.

4) Never underestimate the importance of injury prevention.

Some of the scariest words you can say to a runner are “runner’s knee.” It happens to the best of us, but the best thing you can do to keep it at bay is to take the steps to prevent it!

Cinderella is proof that the right pair of shoes can change your life. So, first things first: make sure you have the right pair of shoes! Everyone’s foot pronates differently as we run, so it’s important to know which shoe is best going to support the way your foot strikes the ground. Strengthening the muscles in your legs is also a great way to prevent injury as it boosts your flexibility and posture – not to mention you’ll also be able to run faster and stronger. If you want to go the extra mile (pun intended), you can also try using kinesiology tape. Although there hasn’t yet been enough medical research to confirm the tape’s benefits, many runners use it to help take pressure off swelling joints and optimize their muscle movement.

The second you feel signs of strain or overuse from training, make sure to use the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) to help recover and prevent any further pain.

“Mobility is associated with injury prevention given a few biological observations. Movement through a full range of motion creates pressure differences within the joint capsule that drives nutrients from the synovial fluid toward the cartilage.”

– Dr. Michael Hartman Director, Research & Development for AdvoCare Scientific Operations

5) Embrace your rest days.

Rest days are incredibly important as they prevent us from burning out mentally and physically. This is time you should allow your body to recover from stress, and though resting doesn’t exactly help you burn lots of calories, it is essential to improving your overall sports performance.

It is important to point out that “taking a rest day” is not code for “sit at home and do nothing.” You can benefit greatly from exploring avenues of mobility recovery (i.e. foam rolling, mobility band exercises, stretching, etc.) as well as active recovery (walking, yoga, swimming, etc). Mobility and active recovery are both fantastic methods to help combat exhaustion and stay on top of sore muscles.

Rest is an important factor in any training program. The balance between exercise stress and recovery is critical for adaptation to occur. Without balance, it is common for overuse injuries to develop due to repeated demands on the body.”

– Dr. Michael Hartman Director, Research & Development for AdvoCare Scientific Operations

6) Digital apps are your friends.

Today’s society thrives in the digital frontier, meaning that there are hundreds of apps out there to help you take your running game to the next level. If you are new to the game and looking for a place to start, check out some of the couch to 5K apps. This is a great way to ease into running – simply follow the prompts and programming on your app, gradually increasing your time and distance over the span of several weeks. If you are a more seasoned runner or looking to increase your distance, check out the couch to 10K, half marathon and even full marathon apps!

If you prefer running outdoors over a treadmill, running apps that use GPS are great to have in your arsenal! It’s basically like carrying your treadmill screen around in your pocket, using the GPS on your phone to track your distance, pace, elevation, duration and calories burned.

Sprinters, don’t feel left out! All you need is a simple interval timer. For starters, you can set a 30 second high-intensity interval for sprinting, followed by a one minute recovery interval for walking or light jogging, and have it repeat as many times as you like. Then, just listen for the buzzer to know when to start your sprints and when to recover.

7) Consistency is key.

This last tip is very simple, yet also very important: be consistent.

This is the glue that is going to hold your running routine together, and it truly is the best way to set yourself up for success and improve your running performance.

 

What are your favorite tips to keep your running routine on track? Tell us in the comments below!  Tweet This!