Everyday running tips for anyone
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
I started running when I was just 12 years old. Coming from two parents who ran cross-country in their high school and college days, it was only a matter of time before I joined them in their favorite outdoor activity. One morning, during the summer before my venture into 7th grade, I watched as my mom laced up her running shoes.
“Can I come with you?” I said. She cheerfully nodded, and the rest is history.
But that’s not to say the last 17 years have been filled with running bliss. No, as a matter of fact, the average runner will tell you so many of those days are filled with a range of body aches and emotions that literally feel like an uphill battle.
But there’s just something about that oft-touted runner’s high that keeps us coming back for more. Time and time again I have found myself mid-run and swearing to a higher power if I just make it through that run, I will never again hit the pavement.
Still, I do, because there’s nothing like taking that last stride, nothing like crossing the finish line. And no other sweat that can compare to that of a solid run.
Here are a few of my favorite running tips, learned throughout the years and stolen, of course, from my favorite coach – my mom.
1. Have a side cramp? Try inhaling, then exhaling with force, through parted lips. Feel the air pressing against your lips as it makes its way out of your mouth. Continue this until your cramps begin to alleviate.
2. Use your arms. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen runners trucking down a path with their arms hanging limply by their sides. Use ’em people! If you haven’t been doing so, it will be hard to get used to at first. However, pumping your arms can help take you up the toughest of hills – even when your legs just don’t want to.
3. Relax your face. It sounds silly, but we carry so much tension in our faces. Next time you’re out for a run, notice if your eyebrows are furrowed or you are overly squinting your eyes. Try relaxing those muscles and notice you instantly feel more at ease.
4. Use your booty! Out to conquer some tough hills? Put your brain in your booty and feel the work coming from the muscles just under your bum cheeks. How do you think runners get those muscular bums?
5. Shrink your stride. Running gurus, like Jeff Galloway, say the most efficient stride is one that mimics a shuffle with your feet hovering just above the ground. As long as your foot is lifted enough to avoid tripping over uneven pavement or a rock, then you are doing the necessary work. A stride that is too long or high can lead to injury.
My run-to-the-next-mailbox method
When I first began running, my momma taught me to “just work toward the next mailbox.” What she meant was when I was running, it was much easier to say, “OK, I just have to make it to that mailbox down the street, and then I can stop” as opposed to thinking about the run in its entirety.
What I found was I would often keep running to just one more “mailbox,” completing a few miles before I realized it.
These small running goals make the task of lacing up our shoes seem more attainable. If you’ve never gone for a run or brisk walk, then the idea of keeping it up for miles seems so daunting it could deter you from venturing out at all.
But what if I told you all you had to do was run for three minutes? Two minutes? One minute?
It might make the task seem a little more doable, right? Hit the treadmill, the track or the pavement and start with adding 30-second to 1-minute running bursts in between brisk walking. When you are ready to take it up a notch, start increasing the incline on the treadmill a bit or work in some outdoor hills. You can also start extending your running time by 30-second increments. Before you know it, you’ll be running for the entire workout!
Next to perfecting your running technique, it’s so important you stay hydrated when working out becomes a regular part of your schedule. Take a peek below for one of my favorite post-workout smoothies, served up with a scoop of plant-based protein powder – which is great for muscle recovery – and pure coconut water, an excellent source of potassium and an electrolyte booster.
I’m curious: What are your favorite tips for becoming a better runner?
Post-Workout Orange Smoothie
Gluten-free and vegan
Makes 1 serving
medium orange, peeled
2 cups frozen peaches
1 scoop plant-based vanilla protein powder
16 ounces pure coconut water
Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender and serve cold.
Excerpt reprinted with permission from The Gluten-Free Revolution: A Balanced Guide to Gluten-Free Lifestyle through Healthy Recipes, Green Smoothies, Yoga, Pilates, and Easy Desserts! by Caroline Shannon-Karasik. Copyright 2014, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the author of The Gluten-Free Revolution and a certified health coach. She is also the author of the popular gluten-free blog, sincerelycaroline.com. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, Penn. Caroline can be reached at