For some people, running is a cruel and unusual form of punishment. For others, it’s a great way to relieve stress and get in shape.
If you’re part of the former group, you might be wondering what you can do to join the latter and reap the benefits of making running a regular part of your routine.
The problem might not be running itself. Instead, it might be the way you’re running.
Listed below are five common issues that make running difficult, along with tips on how you can fix them.
The Problem: You’re Wearing Old or Worn Out Shoes
You don’t need a lot of equipment when you start running. But, one thing you do need is a good pair of running shoes.
Wearing supportive, properly fitting shoes can make all the difference in your ability to run with ease.
The Fix: Change Your Shoes
When was the last time you bought new running shoes? If it’s been longer than six months and you’ve been wearing them regularly, it’s time for an upgrade.
It’s also helpful to have your feet evaluated by a professional at a running specialty store. They will help you find the right pair of shoes for your specific feet and running pattern.
Can’t afford a new pair of shoes? Another option is to invest in some supportive insoles. These are cheaper than shoes, but they’ll provide arch support and pain relief to make your runs more enjoyable.
The Problem: You’re Not Sleeping Enough
When you sleep, your body handles the majority of its recovery and repair. If you’re not getting a sufficient amount of sleep, or if the quality of your sleep is suffering, you’re going to have a much harder time maintaining your energy during your runs.
The Fix: Get Some Rest
The solution to this problem is simple: get more and better sleep. Of course, that’s often easier said than done.
Make sure you’re going to bed at the same time each night, and keep your room dark, cool, and free from electronics. It’s also helpful to wear blue-blocking glasses in the hours leading up to bed since blue light can trigger a cortisol release and make it harder for you to fall asleep.
The Problem: You’re Not Running Enough
How often do you go out for a run? Once a week? Once every couple of months when you feel like you need to “get back on track?”
If you don’t run very frequently, you’re going to have a hard time improving your speed and technique. Running will remain difficult if you don’t do it on a regular basis.
The Fix: Stick to a Running Program
One of the easiest ways to make running a regular habit (and, therefore, improve your running ability) is to find and stick to a running program.
A program will help you progress your runs appropriately and scale them to meet your current skill levels. It can also give you a sense of accountability and make it easier for you to commit to consistent runs.
The Problem: All You Do is Run
This might seem contradictory based on the last tip. But, if you only run and don’t focus on other forms of exercise, you could set yourself up for imbalances that make running more difficult.
The Fix: Cross Train
Running is great, but it can’t do everything. In addition to improving your cardiovascular health, you also need to make strengthening your muscles and improving your mobility priorities.
Focus on making cross training a regular part of your routine. Take 2-3 days per week to strength train and work on your mobility and flexibility. Pay special attention to strengthening your core and lower body — this will help you run faster and maintain good form.
The Problem: Your Upper Body Form is Off
Most new runners think only about the burning in their legs when they run and totally neglect their upper body.
In reality, though, poor upper body form can significantly hinder your running ability. You may fatigue faster, and you could create tension and muscle imbalances that increase your injury risk.
The Fix: Adjust Your Upper Body
During your next run, pay special attention to how your upper body feels. Instead of swinging your arms side-to-side, focus on moving them back and forth and rotating them from your shoulders. Hold them at a 90-degree angle and keep your hands relaxed and neutral.