Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Life File: My Top 20 Running Tips


Those of you who know me and follow me on Insta (especially stories where I share more about my fitness habits), know that I'm a runner. Running is my life, the way I disconnect, the way I connect with myself (especially my competitive side), how I de-stress, how I clear my mind, how I energize, how I wake-up or end the day, how I stay active and sane.... in a nutshell, how I stay healthy both physically and mentally. Some people don't enjoy running but do it, others love it. I'm part of the latter group, I LOVE running. I've ran in almost every place I've been to (it's a lifestyle so running shoes are always the first thing to go in a suitcase) and I've done marathons, half-marathons, 10k races, 5k races, trail races....you name it. Of all the years I've spent running, I've learned a bit about some important things to consider, some more important than others, but all equally useful.

Whether you are a beginner or experienced runner, here's a list of running tips that come from years hitting the pavement, treadmill, sand, and trails. If you just started running or are thinking about running, these could come in handy; and if you've been running for years then maybe there are things you haven't considered, so have a read and let me know if there's something you wish to share or know more about!

1. The most important thing to do before you start running and take it seriously is: get to know your gait. This will determine the kind of shoes you need, which is the second most important thing to consider if you're going to take up running.

2. If you want to avoid injuries --> get the proper shoes according to your gait. It's not about the cutest shoes people, it's about the RIGHT shoes.

3. The right socks can make a HUGE difference. When I started running I wouldn't care much about the type of socks I was wearing, but I have learned that a good pair of socks can make a BIG difference and help your stride be more comfortable. Running socks are specifically made to absorb moisture and keep your feet dry, while providing comfort and support, so next time you think that spending more than $10 (they are not cheap) on a pair of socks is a waste, think again and thank me later ;) Some of my faves are: these, these, these, and these (great for Winter).

4. Two no-fail ways to prevent blisters (assuming you have the right shoes): vaseline and good socks. I slather vaseline all over my feet before I put my socks on for every.single.run.

5. Never under-estimate the power of good music and you should use it to your advantage. New songs can help you push to the finish and they do make your runs more enjoyable. I have different playlists depending on the type of run and mood of the day. If I need a pick-me-up then a good "explosive" song does the trick. Sometimes I even listen to the same 2-3 songs in a single run because they provide the perfect rhythm needed. PS: here's an old playlist (will try to share an updated one soon!)

6. Here's a tip I'm passing on from a friend of mine. When possible, wash your face with water right after your run to take away all the bacteria left from your sweat. If you're at a water fountain or at the gym or wherever it is, just try to do it.

7. Always carry some cash and public transportation tokens or whatever it is they use in your city for emergencies. I have a shoe pocket attached to the laces where I always keep a token and a bill ($5 or $10) to be prepared for anything (it looks like this and this). You might want to end up running long and don't feel like doing a loop, you get injured, you develop a blister, you don't feel well, you fall, you need some hydration....whatever the case, is always good to have a back-up plan and be prepared. Of course you don't necessarily need to have that pocket, since almost all running tights and shorts have pockets, I'm just used to it and know that whatever I put in there won't fall off.

8. Always listen to your body. We sure have bad days and if so listen to your body and hold back if necessary, but if on the contrary you're feeling great, TAKE ADVANTAGE of it! A fartlek, finishing sprint, a faster pace...go for it.

9. Hydration is key, especially prior a race. If I'm running a race, I make sure that I'm drinking enough water the two days leading up to the race.

10. When buying running shoes, go for either a half or full size bigger than what you normally wear. I normally wear 8 1/2 and I'm a 9 1/2 in running shoes. Why is this? Your feet swell when you run and the extra room allows them to move forward with each stride without feeling crammed and developing blisters or black toenails.

11. If 20 min is all you have for a run, go for it. Better something than nothing, and a 20 min fartlek will do wonders for your cardiovascular capacity.

12. Always run against the traffic.

13. There's no such thing as a bad time for a run. A morning run wakes you up, a noon run gives you a nice break to re-focus, and an evening run is the perfect way to de-stress all your day's worries.

14. Keeping a running log will keep you motivated towards reaching your goals or maintaining what you have gained. Back in the day I'd write down each training session, nowadays you can keep it all on Strava or any fitness app.

15. Always remember to stretch after your run! When I don't do so I can definitely feel my legs heavier on my next run.

16. If you want to become faster, you have to do your intervals. There's no way to advance and lower your easy pace if you don't do intervals and tempo runs. I usually stick to 400m intervals once a week, and if I'm running a half I'll do 800m instead. For marathons you'd want to do mile intervals.

17. Always double-knot your laces. You know what's frustrating? Having to stop to tie your laces.

18. Sometimes a couple of steps to drink water or take a photo will give you some extra energy to keep going, some sort of quick reset. Tried-and-true!

19. Always have a few pairs of running shoes on rotation (at least two). Running shoes are made with strategic cushioning technology and they need time (up to 24 hours) to fully decompress and get back into shape, which is why you should never run in the same pair of shoes on two consecutive days (if possible).

20. Energy gels are key for long runs! I always carry one if I'm doing more than 14k or so. This one is my fave.


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