For the past two days I’ve made posts about running. In a nutshell, running is a great exercise. It busts stress, it’s a great overall workout (especially if your legs have a bit more jiggle than you’d like), you can get a lot of thinking done while you run. In previous posts this week I’ve covered everything from getting into running as a beginner to preparing for your first run. I could have skipped all of that and just summed everything up in one easy posting but to me, the best runners are the most informed. There are those who run, then there are runners. Those who run see others running, think it’s easy and a quick solution to fat loss and weight management, try it out one day not knowing what they’re doing and feel sore for days later and never give it another try. Then there are runners who treat the act of running like the true sport that it is: they warm-up, they stretch properly, they know proper running form and know what they’re doing.

So, you’ve read my past posts on running including things to do before you even lace up your shoes (Read ‘Get Up Offa That Thing‘) or things to do in preparation for going out for the best run of your life (Read ‘Rock That Body: Prepare for the Best Run of Your Life‘). So now, you’re ready to run! Great. Lace up your shoes, put on your head band, your shorts (or track suit), do your stretches, start-up the iPod and hit the track. And … go! But wait … now what?

Well, here’s where a lot of people get it wrong: they get out and run but have no clue what they’re doing. You see it; there are those who may legitimately be training for a marathon, but those who aren’t and are still trying to run fast enough to break the sound barrier. Then there are those who’ll run for 10 seconds, walk for 20 minutes due to being out of breath or feeling like they’ve exerted themselves far too much. So what exactly should you be doing?

First, figure out a comfortable pace and stride. These are running terms that a serious runner pays attention to on a daily basis. Stride is how far out your foot goes as you’re running. Some people have longer strides, some have short. For most runners, I think something in between is fine. You don’t want your stride to be so short that it looks like you’re sort of hopping across the track. You don’t want to extend your leg out so far that you’re awkwardly running and threatening to pull a groin muscle. You want one that’s in between: the stride should be easy to maintain and effortless. If you’re having think too much or exert too much effort into going forward, your stride is probably off.

Another area where runners go awry is with their pace. Again, there are some runners who are training for marathons and races where getting to the finish line as quickly as possible is key to success. But, you may not be training for anything other than for fun or to lose weight, so don’t try to go too fast too soon. Pace is all about the timing and everyone has a different pace. If you’re just beginning as a runner, you need to figure out what pace works for you. The best way to hit the best stride and pace (both work together) is to get out on a track or terrain where you plan on doing most of your running and go as fast as you can. See how long and how far you can go at your fastest pace. Now, give yourself time to recover – a whole minute or two (or until your heartbeat returns to a steady pulse). Now, start out again but much slower and see how far you can go. In most cases, the slower pace is going to do you better. Why? Because it’s going to allow you to jog/run longer and more efficiently than if you were speeding ahead.

This leads to another issue runners have: turning running into a competition. When you’re out running on a track, in the park or whatever trail you take, you’re going to encounter other runners. Instead of doing what’s best for you, such as taking it easy, going a bit slower so you’ll last longer, you’re going to feel the need to keep up with all of the other runners. Don’t. Ignore them, most have no idea what they’re doing either! Yes, they are running faster than you are but so what, who cares? Run at a slower pace: you’ll go farther, last longer and will burn more calories than they are. This is why I also like running solo and listening to my iPod as I run: I put myself into a training mode where the only thing I’m focusing on is maintaining my pace and the beat of the song. I take note of other runners but just to take in the scenery, not to try and out do them.

Now, you’ve figured out your pace and stride, so you need to get your form down. Form is posture, and yes, even when you’re running, good posture is key. Speaking of good posture, it is important to maintain this wherever you are, not just on your run. If you are thinking of ways to potentially fix your posture at home, it may be in your best interest to check out sites like BestGamingChair.com. As much as you enjoy playing games or sitting in front of your computer screen creating content for your YouTube channel, be sure that you are comfortable before anything else. Regular chairs can be the result of back pains, so it won’t hurt to switch things up a bit, especially if it is going to improve your health. Anyway, brace your core (or abs); this keeps your torso locked into a good position and you’ll also burn more calories with your abs braced as if you’re about to take a punch. Your gaze should be locked ahead of you; don’t look down (plus, if you run with traffic, not looking up and being aware of what’s ahead of you is dangerous). Relax your shoulders so that they aren’t tense, rotate your arms from the shoulder. Many runners are unsure of what to do with their hands. Well, first, try not to run while holding things in your hands – it throws off your form and causes you to twist or move improperly. Your hands should be slightly cupped and kept at your side, close to your waist. As you run, you want to swing your arms slightly; this helps move you forward and burns a few more calories. As your foot hits the ground it should land mid-foot – don’t ‘bounce’ on your toes or land directly on your heel (you’ll pull or sprain something for sure). If you listen to music while you run, buy a sport’s ban so that your mp3 or iPod is strapped to your arm, not having to be toted in your hands.

Safety is something you should also take into consideration. If you listen to music and run near or around traffic, don’t have your music blasting so loudly that you can’t hear things going on around you. At any intersection, crosswalk, stop light … anywhere that a car may appear – stop. It doesn’t matter if there’s a pedestrian crossing in your favor or the light is in your favor, don’t assume anything when it comes to people in their cars. You should always stop, check for traffic and try to make eye contact with drivers. Most are nice and considerate; they’ll stop or will wave you through and you should tip your head or thank them in some way before proceeding. Too many runners get hit by cars or cause accidents by assuming drivers see them or that drivers aren’t distracted by other things as they’re driving. Runners that do get hit by drivers and incur injuries, as a result, may see the need to contact someone like a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles.

I always carry a cell phone while I’m running. You never know what you’ll encounter while running: an injury, you may see an accident, you may be running in a suspect area so don’t keep yourself isolated and cut-off from society. Some runners suggest taping your emergency contact info to the back of your phone. Others recommend having ‘Emergency Contact’ already keyed in and programmed to your phone’s address book. Both are good recommendations and the overall theme is to be prepared for the worse case scenario. Drunk drivers are not as uncommon as we’d like to think; those involved in a pedestrian accident with a reckless driver may want to contact a springfield personal injury lawyer for legal assistance with a potential claim.

Run in a well-traveled, visible area. Not everyone enjoys running with a partner, an option that could definitely increase the safety aspect of running. However, running in a popular area may mean you encounter more pedestrians, walkers and other runners but it also means you’re a bit safer. You don’t want to run in an area where you’re not bound to encounter anyone else for hours or days. So what, you encounter more faces and such. It’s fine. Get to know some of the people you frequently see. When you run past them, nod a little to acknowledge them. It’s not only a nice gesture, it’s a way to expand your network of familiar and friendly workout partners. You may never talk to that old man, that old lady, that guy with rippling muscles or the girl who barely notices you because of her iPod, but you’ll be aware of one another and should something happen to you (or them), they’ll be more inclined to stop and help you out in your time of need.

All of these tips may seem obvious but often times we assume people know or are aware of the obvious. These tips are meant to keep you safe during your run and to keep you from injuring yourself. I’ll be posting on finding the time or opportunity to run in your busy schedule tomorrow.

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