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Top 10 Running Tips Every PT Wants You to Know

It doesn’t matter what your running experience level is…all you need is motivation to succeed! Following these top 10 running tips (in order is preferred) will help take anyone hoping to start running from the couch to the podium!

Top 10 Running Tips

1. Create a goal!

The first step in achieving your running goal is making one. Is it jogging a mile 3 times per week for a month, running a 7 minute mile once, or running your first marathon?  Think about where you want to go and be sure to WRITE IT DOWN.  Write it down a few times and place them anywhere and everywhere you walk past on a consistent basis (your kitchen, your bathroom, your bedroom mirror, your car, etc.)

2. Make a plan

Your goal is your end point but where do you start?  Well this depends mostly on your current activity level.  If you are just starting out, begin slow and controlled.  Maybe that means you are fast walking and hopeful to work into a slow jog.  If you are already running but want to get faster or run longer – schedule out what days you are going to focus on each in your training program.  I recommend printing out a monthly calendar with open boxes in each day.  Fill out the calendar with your planned training regimen.  Don’t forget to cross-reference your busy schedule and think about what times you will be available to keep yourself honest and compliant with your plan!  Start with 2 to 3 rest breaks.  Your plan should be progressive and increase in mileage or frequency as the weeks progress.

3. Have an accountability-buddy.

It has been well-established that reaching any goal becomes more successful when you have someone to help hold you accountable to achieving it.  Talk to your family members, friends, or local exercise classes (at the YMCA, weight-watchers, or nearby gym) to find someone who has similar interests in getting better!  You might not train directly with them but plan to talk with them routinely to discuss how you are both progressing.  Remember, you are just as much their accountability buddy as they are to you.

4.  Dress the part

Basic psychology says that if you feel good doing something, then you become more invested to do it again.  This is your chance to get that new pair of running shoes or athletic-wear you’ve been wanting to buy.  Don’t break the bank doing it, but have fun making yourself into the “new you”.

5. Regulate your breathing early on with training

When you are in the beginning stages of training, aka the first few weeks of your scheduled plan (don’t have one?  Read tip #2), your breathing becomes an important piece in laying the foundation for how you train.  Learn to breath calmly, “in through your nose, out through your mouth.”  Relax your neck and shoulders and keep your grip relaxed as well.  Keep these tips in mind as your mileage continues to progress.  As your training becomes increasingly more challenging, your breathing habits will help you from getting unnecessary neck pains and stress through the shoulders.  Do this step right and you will cross that finish line feeling calm, cool, and collected (even if you feel like you are gasping for air).

6. Be mindful of the weather and stay hydrated

It’s easy to blame the weather.  It’s “too hot” or “too cold” to run is an easy excuse that can throw you from your training program.  At the beginning of every week, take a look at the weather for the week and actively think about how that it might affect your run.  Yes, you might be a little slower or it might make you take more breaks than you normally do; but remember, the weather isn’t going to change just for you come race day!  When you put in the tough training days when the weather doesn’t abide, your doing more than most of the competition (even if that competition is your inner-self).  That being said, make sure you are staying hydrated and eating before extreme cold or hot days and stay safe!

7. Let soreness be your guide and be okay with taking breaks

Especially when you are just starting out, your body is not going to feel great.  Soreness in muscles you’ve never known you had is a part of what makes running tough!  But don’t let it discourage you and listen to your body.  If you are too sore to go for another run then take your rest day earlier and re-arrange your schedule accordingly.  If you are still sore after two days, then try reducing your speed and mileage in half to see how your body adapts!  You’ll be amazed with what our body’s can go through and you know your body better than anyone else….push yourself but be truthful if it’s too much.

8. Track your mileage

As you start to take the first 7 steps more seriously, you are now likely becoming a force to reckon with!  You are likely now in the middle to end of your first month and are keeping to the plan you initially set. Nice job!  Now that you are understanding the soreness and available progression that your body allows, its time to track your mileage.  Look at your total mileage from the previous week.  Whether its every week or every other week, attempt to increase that number by 5-10%.  Start small and work towards the bigger picture…you’re almost there!

9. Cross Train

Okay, so now your mileage is gradually improving and your body is reaping the benefits.  You are in a great spot!  Another great tip to keep your body on its toes (pun intended?) is to cross train.  Cross training is the act of combining activities to work various parts of your body.  This helps to keep runner’s more agile so that their body doesn’t become “used to” the repetitiveness of running.  Cross training could be aerobic activity specific (biking, swimming, Zumba, stair climbing) or anaerobic (Yoga, lifting weights, exercise classes).  You can add your cross training in 1 to 2x a week instead of your runs or replace one of your rest days (if you’re a beast).  Make sure you are giving your body at least one complete day of rest from activity to allow for recovery.

10. Once you’ve met your goal – make a new one

The boxes on your monthly calendar have been ‘X’d out each day and you met your goal. You feel better. You look better (those compliments don’t hurt, huh?) and you’re ready to take on the world.  We’re proud of you, but don’t let that be the means to the end. Don’t just go right back to that couch when you are now in your prime. Make sure you have a new goal in mind.  Does that mean go farther?  Faster? Increase cross training?  Maybe!  It doesn’t matter.  What does matter as that you keep this momentum going and continue to make this routine a part of your lifestyle by setting a new goal.

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Bonus running tip:  Have any aches or pains that just aren’t going away, no matter how long you rest?  Don’t use Dr. Google to help treat you!  Use a running specialist such as your trusted physical therapist to guide you through the unknown.  Come on over to Action Potential because we’re here to help you reach your goal! Contact us now by requesting an appointment online  or reaching us at 484-841-6154.

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