Every day, millions of people lace up their sneakers and head out for a run. Whether you’re a new runner or have been pounding the pavement for years, here are six ways to make your run safer, more effective and more enjoyable.
Time It Right
Different days may work better for different types of runs. Plan to tackle longer distances on days you have more time, particularly weekends or situations where you can arrange for childcare. When you’re busy, try to fit in a quick 20-minute sprinting session instead.
Eat a small, healthy snack like a banana, yogurt or half a peanut butter sandwich no less than an hour before your workout for an energy boost that won’t slow you down. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you plan to run for more than an hour, carry extra fuel to keep your energy up. Snacks like raisins, dates or pretzels offer fast-acting carbohydrates that are easy on your stomach.
No matter how fast or long you plan to run, warming up helps get your heart ready for the exercise and reduces your risk for injury. Before you start running or sprinting, jog or walk briskly for 5 to 10 minutes. Consider doing dynamic stretches like lunges and squats to further warm up your body.
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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends drinking 1/2 to 1 cup of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise. The longer the run, the more water you’ll need to bring with you. If you plan to run for more than an hour, consider sipping on coconut water or a sports drink, which can stave off dehydration while replacing the electrolytes lost through sweat.
Stretch at the Finish Line
Contrary to what you might have learned in gym class, the best time to stretch is at the end of your workout, after your muscles are already warm. By taking the time to stretch all your major muscle groups, you’ll improve your range of motion, increase circulation and ultimately boost your performance on future runs.
Vary Your Routine
Mix up your runs with long, steady efforts and short, powerful interval training. Long runs can help you slash more calories, build muscle, and increase your endurance. If you want to increase your speed and fitness, do an interval run, a workout that alternates between bursts of speed and rest periods.
Let us know if you have any additional tips to make running easier or more enjoyable!
Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.