There isn’t a runner alive that at some point hasn’t felt that running is hard. Here are 5 simple tips that help running feel a little easier.
Stand tall and roll your shoulders back: Ever notice how runners slump over when they feel tired? When you start to feel this happen to you, focus on rolling your shoulders back, opening up your rib cage and standing taller. This will help you focus on your form, and breathing will likely seem easier.
Intentionally slow your breathing: Whether it’s because you are running too fast or because you are all worked up, focus on slowing down your breathing. Take longer, deeper breaths. This will help you take in more oxygen. When you first start to do, this it can almost feel like you are suffocating or not getting enough air. Stick with it for a minute until your fast, shallow breathing has slowed. Once your body settles in to this deeper breathing, running should feel a tad easier.
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Smile and unclench your fists: Many of us show our tension on our faces and in the way we tighten up our bodies. Relax your face by forcefully smiling. Open up your hands if you are clenching them. When I run, I imagine I’m holding a butterfly in my hand and I don’t want to kill it. Others who visualize carrying a raw egg in its shell— squeeze too tight and it will break in you hand.
Run a little faster: Most of us, if not all of us, tend to slow down as we get tired. If you want to keep up your pace, as you would in a race, push faster for a bit. Doing this can help to use different muscles in slightly new ways. A bonus is that when you slow down from the faster pace, the pace you were running before will likely seem easier. I use this method a lot when I am on the treadmill and want to quit. I pick it up for a quarter to a half mile. Then I return to my prior pace for the remainder of the mile.
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Focus on the mile you are in, not how far you have come or how far you have to go: Mid-way through a longer run can feel like you have gone a million miles, and you still have another million left to go. Mental fatigue can manifest as physical fatigue. Focus only on the mile you are in. Don’t tell yourself you are on mile eight of an 18 mile run. You are on mile one of a one mile run. Once you make it to the next mile, you again are on mile one of a one mile run. A mile is mentally manageable for most runners when the thought of running 18 or 20+ miles in one run can freak some runners out. This can cause unnecessary fatigue because of the mental stress.
What tips do you have when the going gets tough during runs and races? Tweet me @mileposts.