Running is hard.
As the adage goes, "If it was easy, everyone would be doing it." These days, though, it does feel like everyone is doing it, so why does it often feel so hard and uncomfortable?
If you find yourself lagging on every run, consider these tweaks to your approach towards running. Combining a couple of these tips will make your next run feel easier and more enjoyable.
Start the Run Hydrated
Dehydration affects the way you feel, which—in turn—directly affects your level of comfort during a run. With that in mind, it makes sense to enter a run hydrated and drink as you become thirsty. Conflicting studies can make dehydration a confusing topic. Some studies point to a reduction in performance at just two percent body weight loss, while others say that's just not true. True or not, running is going to feel better if you aren't thinking about that tall glass of water waiting at home.
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Eat Foods That Fuel Your Miles
What feels better? A run after eating at a fast food restaurant or a run after eating whole, unprocessed foods? What you put into your body has a direct correlation to what your body is going to give you. The phrase my mom used growing up was, "Garbage in, garbage out." If you don't want to feel like garbage on your run, consider focusing on nutritious foods that are going to make your body and mind feel good.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
Styles come and go, but comfort is always in. If a pair of shorts is rubbing your skin raw for five miles, those miles are not going to feel easy. A general rule of thumb is to pick moisture-wicking apparel made with flat seams, knitted with soft thread, or gear that is mostly seamless. The price tag on good running clothing can be enough to make you grab that old cotton T-shirt, but resist the temptation to settle for any old shirt or the shorts off of your closest floor.
Functional clothing that doesn't bother you on runs is worth its weight in gold. Pick styles that make you feel good. Enjoy running in a skirt because it has more coverage? Go for it. Want to wear only a sports bra because it's hot outside? Go for it. Clothing, just like running, is a deeply personal choice.
Follow a Plan
If you head out for the same three miles every single day and run it on the same loop in your town, pushing as hard as you can to get home— some days will feel better than others. For starters your body is going to adapt to the routine and you aren't going to get the same benefit from the run that you did the first week.
Second, the human body was not meant to go full-speed every single day. There are ups and downs in each day, each week, each month and even each year. Runners who have been running for decades will even say that some years are good, while others are not. The human body needs rest and down periods.
If you don't want to follow a training plan because you aren't training for any distance in particular, use a general outline for a difficult run in terms of either distance or pace, followed by an easy run that is either shorter, slower, or both.