3 Simple Steps to Get You Through Your Next Run
Not everyone is a fan of running — we get that. If every mile feels like an eternity, learning how to make running easier can help you get all the benefits of running without feeling miserable the whole time.
Research suggests there’s a good reason to add running into your workout routine. One study found that any amount of running — even running slowly for as little as five minutes per day — can benefit your heart health and improve mortality, especially for sedentary beginners.
So, how can you make running easier, more effective — and maybe even fun? Here are three easy tips.
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1. Pay Attention to Your Form
Proper running mechanics can help runners move more efficiently. Good posture can contribute to a more powerful stride and improved lung capacity, which can provide better endurance, says fitness expert Joan Pagano, veteran marathoner and author of fitness books including Strength Training for Women.
“When the spine is properly aligned, it serves to counteract the force of gravity on the body and ensures that your joints work efficiently,” Pagano says. “When any of the curves becomes exaggerated, it can cause strain in the joints, leading to neck and shoulder problems, hip and knee pain, and sciatica.”
Pagano offers these easy posture tips for runners:
- Keep your chin level and focus your gaze straight ahead.
- Anchor your shoulders by keeping them back and down, away from your ears.
- Consciously engage and brace your core muscles throughout the run.
- Keep your spine aligned and your torso upright.
- Bend your elbows at about 90 degrees and swing your arms naturally from front to back, not across your body.
- If you are the type of runner who clenches your fists as you run, pretend you’re holding a butterfly in your hand so your forearms and hands remain loose and relaxed.
2. Run More Often
Want to learn how to make running easier? Research suggests that simply running more can naturally help runners improve their gait. In one study, novice female runners in their 20s and 30s followed a 10-week running program. A funny thing happened on the way to the finish line: Researchers found that their gait and form became more efficient without additional running advice or coaching.
The more the women ran, the more their speed and endurance improved, and the more economical their running became.
Study authors surmised that by being more conscious of how their bodies moved and felt during exercise, the test subjects “self-optimized” in real time to make savvy postural adjustments.
3. Add Intervals and Cross Training
Don’t rely solely on long, steady runs. If you want to learn how to make running easier, add some running intervals, strength training, and cross training into your workout schedule.
High intensity interval training — cycling between short bursts of high-intensity activity and short period of recovery — can improve your cardiorespiratory fitness and boost athletic performance, Pagano says. Incorporate intervals into your runs by alternating between a high-intensity pace (80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate) and a recovery pace (an easy jog or brisk walk).
“It’s certainly more interesting and can be more effective than doing the same steady pace for the entire running time,” Pagano says. “As a plus, tempo changes keep you engaged and help you run faster and harder.”
Strength training and cross training can also help you curb boredom while building strength and endurance, which can help make running easier. Try rounding out your running program with biking, weight lifting, or brisk walking, Pagano says.