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Avoid Running Ruin

Outdoor running is a different beast that you need to tackle one step at a time. From terrain and tempo to breathing and boundaries, there are crucial factors you should consider.

Article
Ryann Gordon
Photos
Courtesy
Posted
February 15, 2017

Most of us have made the decision at one point or another to take a jog — sometimes successfully — other times not. Sometimes we get out there and run a mile or more with ease and determination; other times we step out of the house just to pick up a light jog around the corner and back, or full-on sprint to the point that we must turn around before we get sick to our stomach.

Whether we run daily or only following our New Year’s resolution, there’s no denying the benefits and natural sense of freedom that a great jog provides. And the fact is, we all have the potential to prepare for and pace ourselves during a run, at least enough to get the sufficient amount of exercise that a jog should provide. If you’ve got a beating heart, working lungs and two good legs (or prosthetics nowadays), then the art of jogging can benefit you. Now all you have to do is perfect your technique, and you’ll be jogging like Forrest Gump in no time.

Feet First
Wearing the right running shoes is key if you want to enjoy your run and prevent injury.

Do: Go to a qualified running shoe store (or find an employee with footwear knowledge) and get fitted for the right shoes based on what you’re wanting to do. Not all shoes are created equal. Different shoes and brands are better (or worse) for the challenge you’re taking on. Most runners suggest buying a shoe that is slightly longer and wider than your bigger foot.

Don’t: We can’t emphasize this enough: never run in worn-out shoes. Good running shoes should last you 350-450 miles.

Prepare
The first and foremost important part of getting in a good workout is in the preparation. Decide on your goals and write them down.

Do: Make sure to drink lots of water ahead of time and load up on complex carbs hours before to give you lasting energy for your run. Water lubricates joints, tendons and ligaments as well as helps carry blood efficiently to major organs.

Don’t: Drink energy drinks or coffee to prepare for a run. Caffeine will give you the quick boost you need to get out of bed, but it will wear off quickly once you begin to sweat it out.

Stretch
Stretching before your run can make the difference between a quick run and a long-distance jog that’ll truly benefit you.

Do: Stretch out well before and after a run — core stretches are essential for keeping side cramps at bay during your run.

Don’t:  Start with static stretches. Utilize dynamic stretches like lunges and side skips to stretch and warm up your muscles simultaneously. Stretching “cold” muscles can cause more harm than good.

Pace
Pacing yourself can be one of the most difficult parts of jogging; but slow and steady wins the race.

Do: Start with a pace that seems too slow at first. A light jog will allow you to keep running for longer without stopping. Listen to your body. You can run through annoyance, but not through pain.

Don’t: Take off when you first hit the pavement; time your breathing and movement, and don’t speed up until you see the finish line.

Focus
Your running form can be negatively affected by distractions such as people and your surroundings. Also make sure you stay above bored. Avoid getting caught up in the training-is everything syndrome.

Do: Keep your eyes locked ahead and stay neutral to keep from wearing yourself out early on.

Don’t: Talk, text or turn from the road in front of you; this will affect your breathing and cause you to lose your steady breath and focus.

Breathe
Keeping a steady flow of breath will enable you to run much farther without cramping up or getting worn-out.

Do:  Pay close attention to your breathing. Focus on breathing in your nose and out your mouth to keep cramps at bay.

Don’t: Focus too hard on inhaling as much oxygen as possible in your mouth; this will cause you to cramp much quicker.

Tune Out
Although focusing on your goal is important, tuning out what’s around you will help your body decide when you actually need to take a break.

Do: Keep your eyes on the goal and strive for as few distractions as possible.

Don’t: Tune out too much, because being aware of cars and other runners is just as important as the success of your run.

New Roads
There is only so much binge watching you can do before that show gets a little old. Running is the same. Battling through another run, seeing the same real estate, will get boring and send you back to the couch in no time.

Do: See new parts of town and explore some off-the-beaten-path locations. If your knees can take it, tackle a trail and go off-road.

Don’t: Run with traffic. Always run against it.

Ease Into It
Sometimes runners get too caught up in the now and increasing what their bodies are capable of too soon which can lead to injury or burn out.

Do: Increase your distance by 10-15 percent a week. Build slowly.

Don’t: It’s easy to get intimidated (or embarrassed) as others pass you or make you seem like a power walker at the mall. Let it go. This isn’t the time to let your ego take over.