If there's one universal truth all runners can agree on, it's this: Running is hard.
It doesn't matter if you're trying to get into shape for the first time in your life, or you're an elite runner who trains full-time, suffering is inevitable. And while we all complain about it, let's be honest, it's also why we're drawn to running in the first place. There's something about overcoming the pain and seeing improvement that keeps us coming back.
But what if there were a few foolproof ways to make running easier...immediately? Sure, we could list how to improve your gait and breathing techniques to increase your efficiency, but that's for another article altogether.
Instead, we outlined 10 simple running hacks that require no additional fitness but make a world of difference.
Use Your Shoelaces
The laces on your shoes are good for more than just securing your feet. They're also perfect for holding your keys or gels if you find yourself in shorts without pockets. Thread one end of the lace through the hole on your key and stuff the key between your laces and the tongue to keep it from bouncing around.
From going too hard to not going hard enough, new runners make tons of mistakes as they start their fitness journey. Preventing mistakes early in your career keeps running more enjoyable and injury-free, providing motivation to continue pushing yourself and not give up. Apps like Couch to 5K are a guided way to streamline this process and increase your success rate.
It's easier to be motivated when you're surrounded by likeminded people. Find a local running club, look at its calendar and make an effort to join the group on a few of its runs each week. It'll hold you accountable, offer structured workouts and have members who can share their advice and expertise.
Get Social, on Social
Not only should you join a local running group, but you should also use a run-tracking app (we love Strava). This will allow you to track your runs and monitor your progress over time, but it will also compare your efforts to other runners in your area. You'll be able to follow your friends (and creep on your competitors), and even when you're running by yourself, you know everyone will be able to see your stats once the run is uploaded.
No, we're not saying opt for a cheaper, less-capable piece of gear but rather search for deals on end-of-season products. Sure, you might end up with a neon jacket that doesn't match anything in your wardrobe, but it'll work in a pinch (and you'll be more comfortable and faster because of it). Sites like Active GearUp and Steep and Cheapoffer serious discounts on name-brand gear.
Create a Mantra
No matter how fit you are heading into your race or workout, we all have off days. These days can be especially tough, so creating a personal mantra can be a powerful tool to overcome a lack of motivation or painful situation. This might be repeating why you're running in the first place or repeating names of loved ones who have helped you get to where you are.
Feel the Beat
Many of us can't make it through a run without our headphones, and it's not just in our heads—studies have proven that music actually helps while running and working out. Don't just pick any song though, create a curated playlist that includes tunes that are up-tempo (ideally above 120 BPM) to keep things movin'.
There's no other way to put it—chafing is the worst. Whether it's under your arms, between your legs or any other uncomfortable area, chafing can derail a run faster than you'd expect. Luckily, it's easily mitigated.
Opt for lightweight, breathable running apparel and don't forget to liberally apply Body Glide or any other anti-chafing product to sensitive areas before you head out the door.
We've already mentioned how music can positively affect a run, but let's take this one step further. We recommend downloading your favorite audiobook or podcast to listen to while you're pounding the pavement. Once you're invested in the storyline, you won't want to stop—just be sure to only listen to it while running. This will motivate you to lace up your shoes and head out the door just to see what happens next.
Find the Right Shoes
We hate to break it to you, but just because a pair of shoes looks cute doesn't mean they're right for your feet. Running shoes are designed for specific disciplines (sprints vs. distance, trail vs. road) and mechanics (heel vs. toe, neutral vs. pronator)—so head to your local running shop to get fitted for the right pair for you. Bonus hack: Once you find the model you're interested in, opt for last year's iteration to save some coin.
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