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What To Wear Running To Feel Good And Look Good Too

At its core, running is one of the most basic sports. You don't even really need shoes. Instead, you can just up and run wherever and whenever your heart desires. But, if you want to take this sport seriously, settling on what to wear running can be an extremely important decision.

When new runners first start out, the lack of necessary gear can be an absolute godsend. Not only can this help save money, but it also allows newcomers to decide if running is something they will enjoy throughout the foreseeable future.

But as new runners evolve into intermediate runners, they often find themselves overwhelmed by the saturated running gear market. Planning appropriate mileage, rest, and nutrition is already a chore-and-a-half. So trying to decide what to wear running, without spending an absolute fortune, can stop many up-and-coming runners in their tracks.

But why is high-quality running gear so important in the first place? And what should you invest in when it comes to your own running wardrobe?

Why You Should Invest in a Quality Running Wardrobe

a runner wearing red old running shirt

​Via Unsplash

You might be asking yourself: If I can start running in an old t-shirt and shoes, why can't I keep running in the same gear?

Well, first, this old gear will eventually wear out. Even if your first pair of running shoes (which probably weren't top-of-the-line, to begin with) work for a while, the soles will eventually break down. And when this happens, you put yourself at high risk for injury.

As you become more invested in running as a sport and perhaps even start competing in some races, you'll likely find that your old shirt and shoes just don't quite cut it anymore.

At some point, almost every runner chooses to upgrade their running wardrobe. Here are some of the biggest benefits of doing so:

Feels like home

While sprinters might not care whether their running attire is super comfortable, long-distance runners should pay particular attention to this facet of their running wardrobe. After all, running a half- or full-marathon is miserable enough without chafing and heavy fabric.

Fortunately, being comfortable on a run doesn't necessarily mean buying the most expensive running attire available. But it does mean shopping smart and practical.

When shopping for clothes of any type, most of us are pretty aware of the fit and overall comfort.

When it comes to what to wear running, though, you must also look at the fabric content. Some of the best fabrics for running attire include nylon and polyester, which offer uncomparable breathability and moisture-wicking properties.

Some major athletic brands offer proprietary fabric blends, like Nike's Dri-Fit or Under Armour's Charged Cotton (a blend of cotton and synthetic fabrics for extra moisture-wicking). However, looking at the actual fabric content of different items is the easiest way to decide what to wear running.

Amp it up

Ever wondered why competitive sprinters seem to wear as little clothing as possible?

When it comes to sprinters and other speed runners, wearing the appropriate running gear could be the difference between a win and second place. Not only do you want to choose something lightweight and comfortable, but you also want to consider aerodynamics when choosing what to wear running.

Realistically, apparel might not make too much of a difference outside of the most competitive sprinters. But what you wear running can still very much help or hinder you on race day, regardless of your competitive ranking!

For long-distance runners, extra comfort goes hand-in-hand with increased performance. The lighter, drier, and (most importantly) more pain-free you can stay throughout your run, the better your mental and physical endurance will be.

One of the most famous examples of this is the dreaded bleeding nipple.

That's right, endurance runners (typically men, since women more often than not wear sports bras) often suffer from bleeding nipples as their shirt rubs against the sensitive skin of their chest. Many runners opt to bandage their nipples pre-race for a little extra protection, but opting for a non-chafing shirt can also help.

That is just one (and perhaps the most dramatic) example of how choosing what to wear running can impact your performance. But ask any experienced runner, and they'll have plenty of stories of chafing, tangled drawstrings, and other wardrobe mishaps on race day.

Everyone could use a boost

Whether you consider yourself a fashionista or just an average consumer, one thing is pretty much true for all of us:

We feel our best when we look our best. And this is true for running gear, too.

Many of us might have no issue strapping on our running shoes and heading out the door for our scheduled runs. But for others, this can be a more difficult task than completing the run itself!

However, having a comfortable and stylish running outfit can offer a little extra motivation on those tough days.

Some people even save certain running items for special occasions, like a big race or bucket list route. Even if you wear your new running outfit every day, it can help you feel a bit more confident and ready to hit the pavement or trails.

But remember the runner's age-old adage — nothing new on race day.

What to Wear Running from Head to Toe

Athlete wearing fancy running gear

​Via Pexels

So now that you understand the importance of your running wardrobe, let's look at exactly what to wear running.

Of course, many of these items are situational. You might not wear a hat of any type on your runs. Or you might prefer to run shirtless.

Either way, here's what we recommend investing in for the best running wardrobe around.

Headgear

Running headgear can play multiple roles. For those of us concerned about sun exposure, a hat or visor can offer much-needed protection from UV rays. If you rock the bald look or have very fine hair, then a hat can even help protect the delicate skin of your scalp.

Even if you're less concerned about sun exposure than the average person, a brimmed hat can help keep the sun out of your eyes during a run. Or, in rainy weather, it can block raindrops from hitting your face and getting into your eyes.

If you run with your hair in a ponytail, we're partial to running visors like the Under Armour Fly-By Visor. While visors might not be the most fashionable headgear option out there, this visor comes in a range of colors and even has reflective accents for added visibility.

For full-head protection, a standard baseball-style cap is probably the best option. Although there's no shortage of high-quality running caps out there, our personal favorite at the moment is the Nike AeroBill Featherlight Cap.

If you live in a colder climate, then investing in a warm-but-breathable skull cap will help keep your entire body a little bit warmer. Right now, we're loving the Tough Headwear Thermal Running Beanie.

Sunglasses

Investing in a pair of running sunglasses might not be at the top of your shopping list. But when it comes to deciding what to wear running, sunglasses can be a necessity on a bright, sunny day.

Unfortunately, a "normal" pair of sunglasses just won't do for most runners. Instead, you'll need to pick up a pair of sunglasses specifically designed for running and other active sports.

Right now, our two favorite styles of running sunglasses include the DUCO Polarized Sports sunglasses and JOJEN Polarized Sports sunglasses. Both of these sunglasses offer full UV protection and polarization, along with a lightweight and flexible frame fo no-budge wear.

Belts and packs

If you tend to stick to shorter distances, then you might wonder why a running pack is necessary.

For long-distance runners, though, the ability to carry food, water, and other items on a multi-hour run is crucial to their performance and safety.

Even if you do run shorter distances, how often do you find yourself wishing for an easier way to carry your phone or keys?

Luckily, running belts come in all different sizes and styles to meet a variety of needs. You can even find belts and packs specifically designed for hydration.

Here are some of our favorite belt styles:

If you want something compact, lightweight, and discreet, then you'll probably love the SPIbelt. This running belt is fully adjustable, both in the strap and the pouch, and can hold oversized phones like the iPhone Plus range. There's enough room in this belt for bars, gummies, or gels. But you probably won't have space to carry any water.

For something a bit more substantial, that also offers a hydration solution, we suggest the URPOWER Running Belt. While bulkier than the SPIbelt, it offers two water bottles and a zipper pouch for carrying your smaller belongings.

Bottoms

Like shirts, your running bottoms are largely a matter of personal choice. However, there are a few clear choices when it comes to deciding what to wear running.

Let's start with warmer weather. Finding a high-quality pair of running shorts can be a struggle, especially if you deal with chafing thighs. Plus, not every runner wants to wear skin-tight shorts during their run around the neighborhood.

Our favorite warm-weather running bottoms for women are the Under Armour Perforated Fly-By Shorts. For men, we suggest the Baleaf Woven 5" Shorts.

But what about when the temperatures drop?

Some of you are lucky enough to live in warm or temperate climates where shorts are appropriate running attire year-round. But for many of us, the decision of what to wear running largely depends on the weather.

If you're a fan of Under Armour, we suggest checking out their line of ColdGear apparel. The Women's Leggings and Men's Compression Leggings offer extra warmth, whether worn alone or layered under a pair of running joggers.

While nothing can truly stop the cold temperatures, the right running attire can help keep you comfortable even during the winter months.

Socks

To compress or not to compress? When it comes to running socks, this is the age-old question.

So are compression socks really worth the extra price and struggle of putting them on or taking them off?

When it comes to running, compression socks are supposed to limit swelling in the lower legs. And, according to published research, they are at least somewhat effective.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean that compression socks will impact your performance for the better. But there's also no evidence that compression socks will harm you during a run, either.

If you want to try out compression socks for yourself, we recommend trying out a pair like the FuelMeFeet Copper Compression Socks. If you have a favorite sports brand, though, they likely sell a variety of compression gear, as well.

For runners who prefer just plain, old, boring socks, we're big fans of Saucony's range of No-Show Sports Socks. Saucony offers athletic performance socks tailored for both women and men.

The right pair of running socks can stop blisters in their tracks. In fact, when it comes to what to wear running, your socks can be almost as important as your shoes.

Take Your Running Wardrobe to the next Level

wardrobe full of clothing confused What To Wear Running

​Via Pixabay

Looking at our recommendations above, you might be worried about the amount of money you'll need to invest in what to wear running. But don't worry! There is a wide range of budget running gear companies on the market offering products at or near the level of major sports brands.

Plus, most runners won't need to invest in a full-sized running wardrobe. Instead, all you need is a good pair of shoes, socks, and bottoms. Everything else is technically optional.

Whether you choose to deck yourself out in everything we recommended here or stick to your tried-and-true basics, choosing what to wear running can really help step up your game.

Have a favorite piece of running apparel you think everyone should own? Let us know about it in the comments below!

​Featured Image Source: Unsplash

How to Get Faster at Running: Our Top Tips for Your Next Run

how to get faster at running

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay 

Do you remember the Olympic runner Usain Bolt? He can run as fast as 27.8 miles per hour. With a record like that, he has to know how to get faster at running.

While us mere mortals probably won't be able to run a mile in just over two minutes, there are a few things you can do to run faster. If you know how to get faster at running, you will reap more benefits than just a shorter race time.

Increasing your speed can be a great motivator, and knowing how to get faster at running can help you overcome the monotony of your routine. But how exactly do you do that?

How to Get Faster at Running

a runner starting to run on a race track

Image by Skinny Runner

Whether you run for personal enjoyment or to participate in races, you probably want to know how to get faster at running. Running is an excellent way to exercise, and running faster can help keep things interesting.

Running slowly is easy. If you know how to get faster at running, you'll be able to push yourself and improve in ways you never thought possible.

No pain, no gain

Let's start with pushing yourself. In almost anything, you need to get a bit out of your comfort zone to get better. Running is no exception.

If you feel comfortable on a run, odds are you can probably go a bit faster. You don't have to do anything crazy. Start by running a faster pace for a short distance.

how to get faster at running

Image by geniusvv from Pixabay 

You can also push yourself by testing out different routes. Instead of sticking to the same old trail, try a new one on your next run.

However, don't overdo it. There's a difference between pushing yourself and hurting yourself. Some minor discomfort is normal, but if you experience severe discomfort or pain, stop what you're doing. Consult a doctor.

Step count

Why-Your-Heart-Rate-Stays-High-After-a-Workout

Image by Tennis Canada

Another easy tip for how to get faster at running is to check your stride. If you run with a long stride, try and shorten it. Take more steps at smaller intervals, and make them quick.

The quicker you can get from one step to the next, the faster you'll be able to run.

That also means you should try and reduce how much of your foot touches the ground. Instead of your entire foot, try and stick to your toes.

Work on bouncing off of one foot and onto the other.

The tortoise and the hare

If you want to understand how to get faster at running, take a hint from both the tortoise and the hare. On the one hand, slow and steady wins the race. However, there's something to be said for running a fast pace.

To increase your running speed, try alternating slow with fast. You can use your slow pace to warm up and cool down, and it's also helpful when you feel like you need some sort of break on a run.

But then go back to pushing yourself. Go a little faster than you think you can, and try to maintain that pace.

The Tortoise and the Hare: An Aesop Fable (Reading Rainbow Books)

Switching between fast and slow gives your body a chance to recuperate from the fast but also to push your limits.

Climb a mountain

You don't have to climb Mount Everest, but get comfortable with running up hills. Uphill running forces you to run a little harder than running on even ground.

You have to speed up to get over the hill, and you can use that momentum to build up your speed on a flat plane.

Your first hill doesn't need to be super steep. Just start with a small incline and build from there. As you become comfortable running up small hills, move to bigger hills.

The easier you can run up a hill, the easier it will be for you to get faster at running.

Fit and healthy

While weight loss shouldn't be your primary reason for running, losing weight can make it easier for you to run faster.

Shedding excess pounds means you won't have as much weight to carry. The slimmer you are, the easier it will be to up your speed.

Again, don't run to lose weight to be skinny. Do your best to love your body at whatever size, and run because you enjoy it.

Couch potato

This is one tip for how to get faster at running that you probably didn't expect. But resting is just as important as training.

Running works your entire body, and sometimes your body needs a break. That's not to mention that your muscles actually keep working when you take a rest day.

couch-potatoes

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay 

You also need some rest to avoid injury. Don't underestimate the potential for an overuse injury.

So pull up some Netflix and grab a (healthy) snack. Give yourself a break, because your body needs it.

Pace yourself

Let's go back to the tortoise and the hare for a moment. Both animals had some smart strategies, but the tortoise won the race. Why? Because the tortoise kept a steady pace.

If you try and run too fast, too soon or for too long, you might end up doing more harm than good.

It can be easy to want to start off sprinting but don't. Whether you're training or running a race, you don't want to use all of your energy at the beginning.

Start off at a comfortable pace and adjust that pace as you need to. If you feel a burst of energy, you can go a little faster. But make sure you pay attention to your body.

Our bodies are very good at telling us when something is good or not. Don't be afraid to slow down a bit if you need to.

Big picture

If you're training for a race, there's more to do than just run. As you prepare for the race, you should also learn about the course.

Figure out what turns it has or what hills you will have to do.

If the race is local, try and run all or part of the course before the race. Knowing where you'll be running will allow you to better prepare for the race both mentally and physically.

If you can't test out the course ahead of time, at least visualize it and try to run a similar route.

The last thing you want on race day is to find out the course is much different than you thought it would be.

Suit up

Before you head out on your next run, make sure you have the right gear. There are tons of shoes on the market, and some are better than others.

Make sure you have shoes that fit and are good for your feet. Misfitting shoes can cause a lot of issues when running, and those issues can then slow your pace.

You should also wear well-fitting clothes. Don't go too tight or too loose. If you run when it's dark or close to dark outside, be sure also to wear reflective clothing.

Even if you run on a running trail, you want to make sure people see you.

The right clothing and shoes can make a world of difference for your running speed.

Strike a pose

During your run, you want to keep an eye on yourself. Of course, you don't want to overwork yourself. That's a given.

But this time we mean that you should make sure you maintain a good running form. A big mistake you can make when learning how to get faster at running is not learning proper running form.

Bad running form can slow you down in many ways. First, it can lead to injury which is never good. Also, bad form can cause excess tension which can throw you off.

So keep your arms and shoulders relaxed. Keep your arms at your sides. And focus on the course ahead.

Stay on track

When it comes to the day of the race, there are a few things you can do to shave seconds or minutes off your finish time. You don't want to waste any time during a race, especially if you want to win a medal or beat a personal record.

One of the easiest distractions during a race is the water stations. Now, you should stop for water when you need it. But don't stop for any longer than you have to.

Chug that cup of water and keep going.

Another easy distraction is bathroom stops. Yes, they're convenient. But going to the bathroom can add minutes to your final time.

To avoid this, make sure you get to the race early enough to use the restroom before everything starts. Before and during the race, only drink water that you need.

Avoid the temptation to drink too much water, because that can cause you to have to stop during the race.

Why Run Faster?

man running

Image by Wearables

Unless you're training for a race, you may not have a reason to learn how to get faster at running. But a race isn't the only motivator for increasing your speed.

Even if you are planning for a race, most of your motivation should come from within you. Yes, a better final time would be great. But you should do it for more than just the time on a stopwatch.

Push yourself

In most parts of your life, you probably want to improve. Whether it's at work or school or in your personal life, improvement is something to work towards.

And you should look at running in that same way. If you don't want to get better at running, it can become boring. Running the same route at the same pace will get real old, real fast.

Even if you're only able to increase your speed a little, that can be enough to maintain your love of running.

Get fitter

You probably started running as a way to get active. And that's a fantastic reason. Running is an easy way to get and stay active.

Now that you're active, your goal can switch from getting active to get fit. If you understand how to get faster at running, you can apply that knowledge to improve your overall fitness level.

woman drinking

Image by Breaking Muscle

See and feel progress

Lastly, there's nothing better than seeing and feeling like you've made progress. Your running speed is an easy way to measure your growth as a runner.

If you can see the progress on a stopwatch, it can motivate you to keep running and to keep working hard to get even faster.

Hit the Ground Running

Knowing how to run is just part of the puzzle when it comes to understanding how to get faster at running. You need a steady pace, proper running form, and the right running gear. Your running routine should also include some hills as well as full rest days.

Running is one of the best ways to get active. Training for a race can give you the motivation to learn how to get faster at running. But even if you don't plan on racing, understanding how to get faster at running can help you become a better runner.

How to Start Running: Lace up Your Shoes and Get Moving Today

a runner starting to run on a race track
Image by Skinny Runner

So, you want to start running.

Fantastic!

If you live somewhere that has a large running scene or played sports as a child, then you might already be familiar with some of the basics of how to start running.

However, for many adults who want to take up running for their health or just as an excuse to get out of the house, this transition isn't so simple.

Many people run throughout childhood and into adolescence. Whether they participate in team sports, P.E. classes, or just playground fun, running is an integral part of childhood activity.

a group of men running on a creek of water in single file

Image by skeeze on Pixabay

woman very eager to learn how to start running

Image by RyanMcGuire on Pixabay

But when adult responsibilities take over your schedule, running for fun or for sport often falls to the wayside.

Years later, though, you might find yourself wanting to get back into this hobby.

So what do you do?

Don't worry, because the answer is easy:

You just start moving.

The Basics of Running

“THE MIRACLE ISN’T THAT I FINISHED. THE MIRACLE IS THAT I HAD THE COURAGE TO START.” 

- JOHN BINGHAM

wear proper footwear to protect your feet when running

Image by Wokandapix on Pixabay

Running is great because you can literally put on a pair of sneakers and just go.

But if you really want to get into the running world — whether that be through racing or training for fun — there are a few things you need to know.

First, let's learn some of the main keywords you'll come across in the running world!

RUNNING TERMINOLOGY AND DEFINITIONS


  • Jogging: Running at a pace slower than 6 miles per hour
  • Sprinting: Running at maximum speed for short distances
  • Cadence: Total number of steps taken per minute
  • Strike: How your foot hits the ground, such as heel strike, midfoot strike, or forefront strike
  • Pace: Running speed, normally measured in minutes per mile or kilometer (e.g., 8:00/mile)
  • 5k: Popular race distance of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles)
  • Half marathon: Popular race with a distance of 13.1 miles (or 21.1 kilometers)
  • Marathon: Popular race with a distance of 26.2 miles (or 42.2 kilometers)
  • Ultramarathon: Any race distance over 26.2 miles
  • PR/PB: Personal Record or Personal Best — your fastest total time for a given distance.

Understanding these words will make learning how to start running infinitely easier.

And when you start setting personal records and running races of your own, you'll be able to share your achievements with friends and family using the right lingo!

Before we get into creating your own training plan and stocking up on gear, though, let's take a look at why running is such a popular sport in the first place.

Father running for exercise with his baby on a stroller

Image by pasja1000 on Pixabay

RUNNING THROUGH HISTORY

“IF YOU DON'T THINK YOU WERE BORN TO RUN, YOU'RE NOT ONLY DENYING HISTORY, YOU'RE DENYING WHO YOU ARE.” 

- CHRISTOPHER McDOUGALL

Running dates back throughout the entirety of human history.

Before we started farming for food, our ancient ancestors relied on walking and running to hunt down wild game.

As human civilization transitioned away from hunting and gathering into organized agriculture, running became more of a pastime than a necessity.

First woman in Boston to run in the race and was being ambushed by other runners in the track

Kathrine Switzer being ambushed during the 1967 Boston Marathon. There was no rule in the rule book that a woman could not enter the race. However, no woman ever ran in the race before. Kathrine made history for women. Image via Flickr CC0

Greek sculpture of the origin of marathon race

Image by wallner on Pixabay

And in 490 B.C., a Greek soldier ran over 25 miles to deliver the good news of victory in the Battle of Marathon.

Yep, that's the origin story of today's popular marathon race!

DID YOU KNOW?

OVER 1,100 OFFICIAL MARATHONS ARE HELD EACH YEAR!

But the history of running doesn't just jump from Ancient Greece to the modern day.

There was a lot that came between then and now:

HISTORICAL TIMELINE OF RUNNING:


490 B.C.: Pheidippides runs from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of military victory

1896: First international Olympics Games hold the first official marathon

1897: First Boston Marathon takes place

1908: First London Marathon takes place (the first marathon to come in at 26.2 miles!)

1921: International Amateur Athletic Federation declares an official marathon distance to be 26.2 miles

1972: Women are allowed to participate in the Boston and Vancouver Marathon for the first time

1974: Nike patents their signature running shoe outsole

2017: Eliud Kipchoge and Nike attempt, but fail, to break the 2-hour marathon


While running has played an important role in human history, in many ways, it's just getting started.

As technology advances and new running prodigies enter the sport, we'll probably be amazed by the world records and other achievements that continue to take place.

And if the current popularity of running for health and fitness is any indication, this sport isn't going anywhere!

RUNNING FOR HEALTH AND FITNESS

“RUNNING IS REAL AND RELATIVELY SIMPLE... BUT IT AIN'T EASY."

- MARK WILL-WEBER 

Some runners get into the sport because they genuinely enjoy getting outside and moving.

Most, though, first take up running because they want to lose weight or otherwise improve their health.

And even if you only start running for your health, there's a good chance that you'll eventually learn to love this activity.

But we can't completely ignore the inherent benefits (and, unfortunately, risks) of running!

woman running for fitness while listening to the music

Image by StockSnap on Pixabay

Running of any kind is an excellent form of cardio.

Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, helps strengthen and condition your heart (as the name implies) and lungs.

If your goal is to lose weight, running is a super efficient way to burn excess calories. However, if you're at a healthy weight make sure that you eat enough food to fuel your new workouts!)

BENEFITS OF RUNNING

“EVER TRIED.

EVER FAILED.

NO MATTER.

TRY AGAIN.

FAIL AGAIN.

FAIL BETTER."

- SAMUEL BECKETT

running with a partner is the best motivation to keep moving

Image by rawpixel on Pixabay

But that's not all:

Running also helps develop the muscles in your legs, hips, and core. 

While you won't look like a bodybuilder after running a few miles, it's a common misbelief that running doesn't make you stronger.

And, going even deeper, running improves your bone density. This is essential for aging individuals and others at risk of developing osteoporosis.

But the benefits of running don't stop at the physical.

Both anecdotal and scientific evidence supports the fact that running can help fight off symptoms of depression and anxiety.

While you shouldn't rely on running as your only form of therapy for mental health issues, it can serve as an excellent supplementary treatment.

Here's the deal:

No matter what you want to get out of it, though, running offers countless benefits for the mind, body, and soul.

The risks of running

On the other hand, there are some inherent risks of learning how to start running.

Like any intense physical activity, doing too much too soon can result in injury. Some of the most common running injuries include:

BENEFITS OF RUNNING

“SOME SEEK THE COMFORT OF THEIR THERAPIST'S OFFICE, OTHER HEAD TO THE CORNER PUB AND DIVE INTO A PINT, BUT I CHOSE RUNNING AS MY THERAPY."

- DEAN KARNAZES 

COMMON PHYSICAL RUNNING INJURIES:


man suffered from Shin Splints while running

Image By comzeal

SHIN SPLINTS 

Pain caused by small tears in the tissue surrounding the shin bone

RUNNER'S KNEE 

Tenderness or pain on or around the kneecap

tight IT Band on the knee could also cause injury

Image By Africa Studio

IT BAND SYNDROME  

Pain in the outer knee that is the result of a tight IT band

Plantar fasciitis is an injury or accident that might happen while running

Image By comzeal

PLANTAR FASCIITIS 

Dull pain or aching in the foot caused by torn ligaments

fractured ankle is one common injury caused from running

Image By Y's harmony

STRESS FRACTURES 

Serious but gradual fractures in the shin, ankle, and other leg bones

This list might seem scary but, fortunately, most of these injuries will just keep you from running for a few weeks or months.

Without proper care, though, running can pose a serious risk to those with pre-existing conditions or otherwise poor health.

This risk is of particular concern for those who have weakened immune systems or serious heart conditions.

What's the bottom line?

If there is any reason you think running might put you at risk of injury, no matter how minor, consult with your doctor before starting a routine.

WHERE TO RUN, YE, YOU HAVE OPTIONS

“JOGGING IS VERY BENEFICIAL. IT'S GOOD FOR YOUR LEGS AND YOUR FEET. IT'S ALSO VERY GOOD FOR THE GROUND. IT MAKES IT FEEL NEEDED."

- CHARLES M. SCHULZ

One of the biggest personal decisions a runner goes through when learning how to start running is deciding where to run.

While you don't need to relegate yourself to one surface — and, honestly, you shouldn't — most runners strongly identify with where they choose to run.

For instance, someone who primarily trains and races on single-track trails probably won't call themselves just a runner. They'll refer to themselves as a trail runner.

woman prefers to  Run on rough surfaces

Image by sasint on Pixabay

Many runners switch back and forth between different surfaces, even if they have a heavy preference for one in particular.

In a single week, you may take a quick lap around your neighborhood's local roads, run on a treadmill when the weather is poor, and then drive out to a state park for a long run on the trails.

But choosing to run most of your miles on a single surface is totally fine, too.

Meep Meep?

When most people think of a recreational runner, they picture someone jogging down a sidewalk or on the side of the road.

adventurer's like to run on a trail

Trail running. Image Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay CC0

For most people, road running is the most accessible way to get in their weekly miles. Just step out of your front door and start running.

And since most races take place on asphalt or concrete, this is the best surface to run on if you want to participate in these events.

However, there are some obvious downsides to running on the road.

Vehicles are a serious hazard to runners. Even if you stick to the sidewalk, there will be times when you need to cross intersections in order to continue your route.

City running people need to cross bridges or intersections to continue their route

Urban Running, Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay

General road running safety includes using high-visibility and reflective clothing, especially when running at night or early morning.

You should also consider leaving behind the headphones. Or only use one earbud so that you can hear oncoming traffic with your other ear.

One benefit to running on the road is that, if something goes wrong, you have almost immediate access to help. If you trip and twist an ankle, you can flag down a passing motorist with relative ease.

In general, most people spend at least part of their running time on the road.

Hitting the Trails

If you love nature and running on technical surfaces, trail running will probably be exactly your cup of tea.

Trail running takes place on, you guessed it, trails.

These trails can range from gravel fire roads to single-track trails covered in roots and rocks.

woman on trail running to appreciate the beauty of the nature

Trail Running, Image by skeeze on Pixabay

Most trails are much more technical than running on asphalt, meaning that you need to watch your footing to avoid tripping or twisting an ankle. Trail runners often wear shoes with greater traction and support than road shoes to help prevent foot injuries.

The biggest challenge in trail running is finding suitable places to run.

If you live in an urban or suburban location, you might not have any trails close enough to your home to run every day.

“IT'S NOT WHERE YOU TAKE THE TRAIL. IT'S WHERE THE TRAIL TAKES YOU."

- UNKNOWN

horses running freely on the field

Image by skeeze on Pixabay

Many trail runners in this position spend their weekends driving to nearby trails. But if you live near a large park or another natural area, you might find that there are suitable trails practically in your backyard!

Mixed-use mountain bike tracks can also make great running trails.

DID YOU KNOW?

THERE ARE OVER 193,500 MILES OF STATE TRAILS AND OVER 42,500 MILES OF FEDERAL TRAILS IN THE UNITED STATES.

While you don't need to worry about being hit by a car when out on the trails, there are some risks to this style of running.

Look:

Wildlife is one of the biggest threats to runner safety. If you live in an area with a known bear or mountain lion population, then you should carry bear spray and take other necessary precautions.

It's also a good idea to leave at least one ear free to hear your surroundings, though forgoing the headphones altogether isn't a bad idea.

And if you injure yourself when out on a trail run, contacting help might be a serious problem. Many wilderness areas have limited if any, cell service.

Those are all things you should consider before going out on your first run.

WHEN OUTSIDE JUST WON'T CUT IT

Finally, there's the trusty treadmill!

While runners often poke fun at this machine by calling it the "dreadmill," the treadmill is an extremely useful tool for any dedicated runner.

If you live somewhere with dangerously cold winters, you might find yourself turning to the treadmill for several months out of the year.

Or if you're not a fan of running in the rain, having access to a treadmill could be the thing that keeps you committed to your training plan during inclement weather.

And if you are worried about the safety of running on roads or trails, the treadmill can be a much safer alternative.

But there are some things to take into consideration before jumping on this machine.

One of the biggest issues when running on a treadmill, at least if you are concerned with your pace, is that a runner's pace on a treadmill is not equivalent to their pace on a traditional surface.

"IT WAS BEING A RUNNER THAT MATTERED, NOT HOW FAST OR HOW FAR I COULD RUN. THE JOY WAS IN THE ACT OF RUNNING AND IN THE JOURNEY, NOT IN THE DESTINATION. "

- JOHN BINGHAM

Since the treadmill belt is moving with you, it helps propel your feet forward.

And since you are not actually moving, you do not have to worry about wind resistance slowing you down.

To get a better idea of how your pace on a treadmill compares to running on asphalt or trails, you can reference a treadmill pace chart:

an example of a treadmill pace chart

As you can see from this chart, adjusting the incline of the treadmill directly impacts your actual pace. For most treadmills, using a one-percent incline is the best way to mimic running on roads or trails.

With a little fine-tuning and practice, running on the treadmill can be a great supplement to your regular training plan.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR TRAINING PLAN

For some people, running has no real rhyme or reason.

But if you want to get the most out of this activity, you should choose and follow a trusted training plan.

people running with a training plan to follow

Image by skeeze on Pixabay

There are countless running training plans out there. And these plans cover every possible fitness level and goal.

So when first deciding to learn how to start running, we wholeheartedly recommend finding one of these plans to follow.

runner with artificial feet running in the race

Image by Pexels on Pixabay

“RUNNING IS NOTHING MORE THAN A SERIES OF ARGUMENTS BETWEEN THE PART OF YOUR BRAIN THAT WANTS TO STOP AND THE PART THAT WANTS TO KEEP GOING."

- UNKNOWN

Running training plans are designed to achieve a certain goal.

For instance, C25K, arguably the most well-known training plan, is designed to get someone from the couch to completing a 5k race.

Depending on the given training plan, rest days, mileage, and more can vary greatly.

But when looking through prospective training plans, you're bound to come across some of the following training methods:

BASE RUNS

The sole purpose of these runs is to build up mileage.

The further and longer you run, no matter at what pace, the better your cardiovascular endurance will become.

Base runs rely on running a moderate distance at an easy-to-moderate intensity.

“EVERY RUN IS A WORK OF ART,  A DRAWING ON EACH DAY'S CANVAS. SOME RUNS ARE SHOUTS AND SOME RUNS ARE WHISPERS. SOME RUNS ARE EULOGIES AND OTHERS CELEBRATIONS."

- DAGNEY SCOTT BARRIO

GETTING A RHYTHM

Tempo runs, also known as threshold runs are similar to base runs, but with increased difficulty.

With these runs, you want to run for a moderate distance. But instead of taking it easy you want to push yourself to your race pace or maximum speed for that distance.

a group of runners running on rough surfaces

Image by 12019 on Pixabay

As the name "threshold run" implies, you want to push your body close to its limits on these runs.

These training runs help build up your muscular endurance and delay the onset of fatigue caused by lactic acid.

“WHAT I'VE LEARNED FROM RUNNING IS THAT THE TIME TO PUSH HARD IS WHEN YOU'RE HURTING LIKE CRAZY AND YOU WANT TO GIVE UP. SUCCESS IS OFTEN JUST AROUND THE CORNER."

- JAMES DYSON

man pushing himself to finish running on a river of water

Image by Gabler-Werbung on Pixabay

Not all training plans will include tempo runs. And if they do they will probably be limited to only one day a week.

But you'll often see these runs in plans for half marathon, marathon, and ultramarathon races.

On again and off again...

Interval runs are any type of training run that involves intervals of intense and easy effort.

Many training plans implement these runs to build up from little running endurance or as a way to build speed for longer distances.

Many different training runs fall into the category of intervals.

Here are some of the most common ones you'll see:

All about sprints

Even non-runners know what sprinting is. At least to a degree.


In track, sprints last for a distance of 400 meters (just under a quarter-mile). But many training plans refer to any short, full-effort running as sprinting.

Because of its high-intensity, sprinting builds leg and glute muscles more efficiently than most other types of running. Instead of endurance, this type of training run relies on sheer power.

If you want to do strict sprints, a track is the best place to train. But you can practice these interval runs on any flat terrain.

Sprinting is great for adding speed and power to your runs, especially during the last leg of a close race.

HILL REPEATS

If you run on trails or hilly roads, then elevation will be a natural part of your day-to-day runs.

But hills can also be utilized for a type of interval training called hill repeats.

Young couple doing trail running workout

Young couple running on incline country trail. Image By Jacob Lund

These interval runs are pretty much exactly what they sound like: running up and down a hill multiple times.

When going up the hill, you want to move at as fast of a pace as possible without completely losing proper running form.

This type of training is great for those who regularly encounter hills in practice runs and races. But these intervals can also build strength and agility in runners who typically run on flat terrain.

For more on hill repeats, watch the short video below:

FARTLEK

Fartlek intervals are sometimes prescribed in training plans. But this type of run is, by nature, unstructured.

A fartlek run can mean increasing your pace for one minute every ten minutes of your run.

man doing the pace increase running or fartlek intervals

Image by skeeze on Pixabay

STRIDES

Strides are a less popular form of interval training, but they are a favorite for many experienced runners.

athlete doing a running strides

Image by ogmentry on Pixabay

“FOR ME, RUNNING IS BOTH EXERCISE AND A METAPHOR. RUNNING DAY AFTER DAY, PILING UP THE RACES, BIT BY BIT I RAISE THE BAR, AND BY CLEARING EACH LEVEL I ELEVATE MYSELF."

- HARUKI MURAKAMI

To complete a stride, you start out jogging and gradually increase your speed to a full sprint. You should reach full speed in 30 to 60 seconds, and then come back down to a jog.

These intervals help you nail down your running form, especially at faster speeds.

They are also an excellent way to add speed training to a more distance-focused training plan.

Strides are a great type of interval training to incorporate after a base run or as part of your warm-up. When practiced after a base run, strides can also serve as a dynamic stretch for your legs and hips.

For more on how to perform strides, check out the video below:

RUNNING GEAR

Just like most things when it comes to learning how to start running, you can take a minimalistic or complicated approach to your gear.

When we say running gear, we mean everything from the shoes you wear to the water bottle you carry.

runner with bandages as foot injury

Image By cunaplus

While shorter runs, such as a 5k or 10k, can be run with little thought for what you wear and carry, longer distances require a bit more consideration.

After all, when you're spending hours on the road or trail, your gear is responsible for keeping you comfortable and safe.

The most important thing

It's no secret that your feet take the brunt of the wear and tear during a run. And wearing the right footwear is essential to avoiding injury and maintaining your foot health.

Before we go through the basics of finding the right running shoe for you, we want to start out by saying that the best way to shop for quality running shoes is to go to your local professional running store. The staff at one of these stores will be able to perform running form checks, including looking at your foot strike style, and recommend the perfect running shoe for your biomechanics.

But if you don't have access to one of these specialty shoe retailers, you can find running shoes through a little research and trial-and-error.

When shoe shopping, you'll come across a couple more unique terms, including:

Running Shoe Terms

Drop: The difference, measured in millimeters, between a shoe's heel and toe height

Neutral pronation: You evenly distribute weight across your entire foot

Underpronation: You put more weight on the outside of your feet

Overpronation: You put more weight on the inside of your foot

If you know how your feet strike and where you land on the pronation scale, you can narrow down your selection of running shoes pretty substantially.

a quality made running shoes

Image by Couleur on Pixabay

DROP

Your strike style comes into play when looking at a shoe's drop measurement.

If you're a heel striker, you generally want to stick with running shoes in the 10mm to 12mm drop range.

Hoka One One Clifton shoes for heel striker runner

Example of 12mm drop. Hoka One One Clifton, Image By Hoka

But for those who consistently land midfoot, a 4mm drop is typically best.

Those prone to knee injuries might find some relief with a smaller drop, as well. These shoes send more of the impact up through the legs and hips, sparing the knees.

In general, though, these guidelines are just that: guidelines. Many heel strikers find that a 4mm drop suits them well, and vice-versa.

CONTROL

Most running shoes will be labeled as either "neutral" or "motion control." This is where your foot pronation comes into play.


Overpronation sneakers for motion control while running

Image By Brooks Bedlam

While some level of under- or overpronation is natural, too much can cause instability or put you at risk of injury. In these cases, motion control shoes can help your feet land more evenly.

This control is achieved through the shape and structure of the shoe's upper and midsole.

Your feet won't be forced into neutral pronation. But they will help prevent lateral movement of the foot.

Neutral shoes, though, don't offer any motion control. In these shoes, your feet will strike as naturally as if you were running barefoot.

SURFACE

One last thing regarding running shoes: the surface you run most on matters!

The first question you should ask yourself when shopping for new running shoes is if you plan to use these shoes on asphalt or a treadmill or on trails.

Running Trail Shoes for trail runners

These trail running shoes have pronounced tread to grip dirt and rocks. Image By Salomon

Road shoes are often more flexible and lighter than trail shoes.

Trail shoes, though, offer increased support and traction. This will help stabilize and protect your feet when stepping on roots, rocks, and other uneven surfaces.

“RUN WHEN YOU CAN, WALK IF YOU HAVE TO, CRAWL IF YOU MUST; JUST NEVER GIVE UP."

- DEAN KARNAZES

tread on the shoes are important when running on trails

Image By Salomon

While nothing is stopping you from wearing road shoes on the trails, you'll probably end up with sore feet and might struggle to keep from slipping.

And as a common courtesy, you should delegate a specific pair of shoes to indoor running on tracks or treadmills. Otherwise, you'll end up tracking dirt and debris from outdoors into the gym.

If you're running through mud or snow, you can also invest in removable cleats for the bottom of your running shoes.

DID YOU KNOW?

MOST RUNNING SHOES SHOULD BE REPLACED AFTER 400 MILES.

One last thing regarding running shoes: the surface you run most on matters!

The first question you should ask yourself when shopping for new running shoes is if you plan to use these shoes on asphalt or a treadmill or on trails.

GADGETS

Fitness wearables are super popular right now. Look at the average person's wrist, and you'll probably see a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or another tracker.

man looking at his Jogging Stopwatch Sport Watch Time Fitness Clock

Jogging Stopwatch Sport Watch Time Fitness Clock, Image by Max Pixel CC0

But runners have been using fitness watches for years.

While you definitely don't need one of these gadgets, they can be useful for tracking your distance, pace, and other stats.

Some more advanced models even offer GPS directions, so you'll never get lost!

If you're just getting into how to start running, though, we recommend foregoing these gadgets at first or investing in a used model.

Newer running watches can cost close to $1,000, but you can find used models for $50 or less that work just as well.

If you reach a point in your running career where you want to be more competitive and track your progress more easily, you can then invest in one of these newer models.

runner wearing Hydration packs on his body

Salomon Hydration Pack designed for running. Image By Salomon

OTHER ACCESSORIES

When you start running longer distances, you also need to start taking hydration and nutrition into consideration.

The general rule of thumb is that you can run up to a half marathon without needing to carry food and water with you.

But on hot days, you should have water with you no matter how short of a distance you plan to run.

For water, you can find handheld water bottles or invest in a hydration belt or vest at your local running or outdoor retailer.

Most of these packs also have small pockets for snacks.

athletes enjoy running on hot day

Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU from Pexels CC0

The food you carry on a run is entirely up to you, but popular options include:

  • Peanut butter sandwiches
  • Baby food pouches
  • Gummy candy
  • Bananas
  • GU products

Even if you don't end up reaching for these snacks during your run, it's important to have them with you just in case.

MASTERING YOUR RUNNING FORM

"RUNNING IS THE GREATEST METAPHOR FOR LIFE, BECAUSE YOU GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT."

- OPRAH WINFREY

You have your training plan.

Your closet is stocked with new running gear.

Now let's talk about your running form.

When lifting weights or performing other strength exercises, proper form is essential to preventing injury.

The same is true for running.

Most running injuries can be traced back to a subpar foot strike, posture, or other factor.

a beginner running on the side of the road

Photo by Rosemary Ketchum from Pexels

Of course, you shouldn't beat yourself up if your form isn't perfect right out of the gate. In fact, your form will probably never be 100-percent perfect.

In addition to injury prevention, proper running form will also help you run more efficiently. And, therefore, faster.

The best way to learn what correct running form looks like is to see it for yourself. Check out the video below to learn how to start running with proper form:

RUNNING APPS YOU SHOULD TRY

strava

Image by Sportyjob

STRAVA

Running might be the most tech-obsessed sport in the world.

And out of this obsession have come countless gadgets, gear, and apps.

If you love tracking your running data or having your entire training plan at your fingertips, we recommend testing out some of the following software:

Strava is the social media heavyweight of the running world.

But the ability to share and view your friends' running feats is only a fraction of what this website and app have to offer.

One of the best Strava features is the Heat Map.

This lets you see where other people are running in your area — or, really, anywhere on Earth. If you're struggling to find new routes in your area, the map will show you running spots based on popularity.

The Heat Map is also great for finding hidden trails that you would otherwise never know about. For trail runners, this feature is an absolute gold mine!

C25k

Image by iTunes

C25K, or Couch-to-5k, is the name of a super popular training program for those wanting to learn how to start running.

While you can follow a spreadsheet or other guide for this plan, you can also download a slick app.

This program tracks your progress through the plan, offers audio prompts during your runs, and other useful features.

If you're someone who needs a little extra structure and motivation in your workouts, and you have little to no past running experience, we definitely recommend this training plan and app!

mapmyfitness

Image by ibm

MapMyRun is a very basic run-tracking app, without the heavy social media aspect offered by Strava.

If you just want a basic place to keep track of your running history, this is a great app.

And if you use MyFitnessPal for your nutrition tracking, then you might choose MapMyRun over another app because of its built-in integration.

While this app is built more for those who run to lose weight or otherwise improve their health, it is still a great app for the casual runner.

For more competitive runners, though, we recommend giving Strava a try first.

HOw TO START RUNNING: TIME TO HIT THE ROAD

athlete warming up and getting started to run

Image By Unknown via Pixabay CC0

For some people, running is just another cardio exercise. But for others, it is a hobby, sport, and lifestyle.

Running holds an important place in human history. Without our ancestors' endurance, we never would have been able to hunt down wild game.

"WHEN THE SUN COMES UP YOU'D BETTER BE RUNNING."

- CHRISTPHER MCDOUGALL

And if Pheidippides hadn't made the journey from Marathon to Athens in Ancient Greece, the running scene of today would likely be much different!

Today, more and more people are getting into the sport of running to improve both their physical and mental health. While this activity does have some inherent risks, they pale in comparison to the wealth of benefits that running can provide.

people happily join a city run for a cause

Photo by Lukasz Dziegel from Pexels

If you're serious about learning how to start running, one of the best things you can do is commit to a training plan. No matter what your running goal is, we promise there's a suitable plan out there.

Once you have your training plan picked out, all you need are a good pair of running shoes and somewhere to run!

Whether you choose to start your running journey on road, trail, or treadmill, the tips and tricks in this guide are sure to serve you well.

So what are you waiting for? It's time to get moving!

How to Conquer a Marathon without Actually Dying

participants in marathon running
silhouette showing how a man runs

 "Ah just felt like runnin."-- Forrest Gump

So you’ve decided to run a marathon.

We're sorry. But you need to know this up front.

The guy who ran what is believed to be the first marathon in history?

He died.

(He might not have had the best marathon training plan, though.)

As the story goes:

The doomed marathon innovator was Pheidippedes, a Greek soldier in the famous Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C.

Legend has it that Pheidippedes ran in full battle armor from Marathon to Athens with the glorious news of Greece's triumph over the more massive Persian military.

A distance of roughly 25 miles, give or take a few.

Marathon battle map

Image: CC0 1.0 Universal by Jona Lendering via Livius.org

And upon completing his duty, as later recounted in a 19th Century poem by R​​​​ob​​​​ert Bro​​​​​​​​​wning, he promptly collapsed and perished from the earth.

None of this may actually be true.

But here’s the good news:

You can conquer a marathon without dying. (But we give no guarantees about the chafing.)

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.” – ​Fred Lebow​ – New York City Marathon co-founder

The key to survival is carefully choosing a marathon plan that works best for your specific level of running experience.

One in which you:

  • Build your cardiovascular capacity by gradually increasing your weekly distances for training runs.
  • Learn about and choose the right shoes, socks, and training ensemble.
  • Eat right and drink enough water, especially on the hottest days.
  • Suddenly realize you’re not really partial to any of your large toenails.

Do all this, and you’ll end up with a great set of stories.

And you’ll even live to tell them.

(Probably)

When to Start Running/Training

Getting ready to run a marathon isn’t like flipping a switch.

You need to achieve a basic level of fitness before seriously contemplate tackling the 26.2.

It’s that basic level of fitness that will dictate what kind of marathon training plan you’ll want to follow.

We’re not talking American Ninja Warrior fitness.

You can be plump in all the wrong places and still be a candidate to go the distance.

What you need is called a “base” for running.

One does not get off the couch and dive straight into the rigors of marathon training any more than one jumps off a cliff without a parachute.

You have to give your heart, lungs, and muscles a chance to adapt!

But first things first:

You probably didn’t realize that marathons involve math.

You want to allow at least ​16 weeks​ for training.

a calendar with red marked on the 18th, Saturday

Image: by ​Basti93​ via Pixabay

Maybe as much as 20.

So that means, your first task is deciding on your goal race. And then back-timing, so you know when the misery training should start.

Because no one wants to run more training miles than they have to. That would be truly crazy. Crazier than running 26.2 miles in one outing.

Marathon Training Schedule

Week 1:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 3 mi
Wed - Rest
Thu - 3 miles
Fri - 3 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 4 mi
Total = 13 mi

Week 2:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 3 mi
Wed - Rest
Thu - 3 miles
Fri - 3 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 5 mi
Total = 14 mi

Week 3:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 3 mi
Wed - Rest
Thu - 4 miles
Fri - 3 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 6 mi
Total = 16 mi

Week 4:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 3 mi
Wed - Rest
Thu - 4 miles
Fri - 3 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 7 mi
Total = 17 mi

Week 5:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 4 mi
Wed - Rest
Thu - 4 miles
Fri - 3 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 8 mi
Total = 19 mi

Week 6:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 4 mi
Wed - Rest
Thu - 5 miles
Fri - 3 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 9 mi
Total = 21 mi

Week 7:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 4 mi
Wed - Rest
Thu - 6 miles
Fri - 3 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 10 mi
Total = 22 mi

Week 8:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 5 mi
Wed - Rest
Thu - 5 miles
Fri - 4 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 11 mi
Total = 25 mi

Week 9:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 5 mi
Wed - Rest
Thu - 5 miles
Fri - 4 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 12 mi
Total = 26 mi

Week 10:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 4 mi
Wed - Rest
Thu - 5 miles
Fri - 4 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 11 mi
Total = 24 mi

Week 11:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 4 mi
Wed - Rest
Thu - 5 miles
Fri - 4 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 10 mi
Total = 23 mi

Week 12:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 3 mi
Wed - Rest
Thu - 4 miles
Fri - 3 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 13.1 mi
Total = 23.1 mi

You’ll find out what I mean.

From there, you need to allow an additional month for base training.

Many coaches suggest starting wit​​h a combined period of running and walking. Your total ramp-up period should be about four weeks.

Once you’ve built your base, then you’re ready for the fun!

a feisty woman poses as she is about to run from the starting line

Image: CC0 by ​Gratisography​ via Pexels

(And by fun, we mean, waking up before sunrise for a long training run just to avoid temperatures and humidity typically only experienced on the sun, or in hell.)

P.S. This was the easy part.

The Ultimate Training Plan
(AKA There Is No Such Thing)

With your base carefully constructed, it’s now time to start putting one foot in front of the other.

In marathon training, there will be good days, and there will be bad days.

Just like Alexander found out:

And there may be the occasional horrible day.

No marathon training plan, no matter how highly ranked or promoted, can change that.

But a few programs get more attention than others.

 Run less, run faster

Now there’s a slogan that will get your attention as a runner.

Developed by physiologists and researchers at Furman University, Run Less, Run Faster emphasizes quality over quantity.

Using this program, you run three times a week. The rest of the week, eat Bon-Bons.

Just kidding.

RLRF adds in two days of cross training (pool, bike, rowing machine) and two days of rest.

The methodology is carefully detailed in an easy-to-read book and comes with a matching app.

 Hal Higdon’s marathon training plan

Popular marathon coach Hal Higdon estimates he’s helped half a million runners break the tape. He also offers books explaining his approach and supplementary apps you can download.

Here's the thing:

Depending on your experience level, you’ll be running 4 to 5 times a week for up to 18 weeks. The plan allows for rest and some cross-training.

“Steve Langley, a forecast manager from Beloit, Wisconsin, recalls running 15 miles with friends on a January morning when the temperature was 5°F. Running through a park with a small lake, they passed several people sitting on buckets, ice fishing. “Look at those idiots,” said one of the fishermen. “They’re going to freeze to death!”

Langley admits thinking the same about them.”― Hal Higdon, Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide: Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons

Run-walk-run with Jeff Galloway

Finally, there’s Jeff Galloway, creator of the “run walk run” marathon method.

(God Bless you, Jeff Galloway.)

Run-Walk-Run essentially breaks your training runs and race into regular intervals of running followed by short walking breaks. You keep repeating this pattern until you finish.

Here's his philosophy:

Galloway’s research and experience indicate that Run-Walk-Run allows runners to complete races with fewer injuries and quicker recovery times.

And get this:

The runners have faster times than those who run continuously.

Marathon Survival Tips

a lighted bulb icon

Unfortunately, Jeff Galloway, Hal Higdon, and Run Less, Run Faster came along too late to prevent Pheidippedes' untimely demise.

We don’t have that problem today.

Through both science and the bitter taste of trial and error over the years, the running community now understands the keys to making it across the finish line safe and sound.

These are the things you’ll want to know and need to know from the onset of your training, all the way through to the last moments of the race.

They are matters you should contemplate, remember and integrate into your routine in the same way you brush your teeth every morning.

(People still do that, right?)

The mental game

In training and in the race, your biggest opponent is the gray matter between your ears.

Your brain.

How you process what’s happening during your long runs, and on race day, makes all the difference. It’s a ​mental challenge​.

a man using earphones while taking a jog

Image: by Pexels via Pixabay

If you have a bad day, one where you have to cut your run short, or you feel week, or your legs hurt, or it’s too hot or too cold, things can go either way.

  1. You can convince yourself that you’re not cut out for this, or;
  2. You can shrug, take it as a lesson to be learned, erase it from your memory and come back stronger the next time out.

We prefer No. 2. We think you will too. (Pheidippedes...not so much.)

The point is:

Training for and then running a marathon is hard. The experience prompts our bodies to respond physiologically and psychologically, as a matter of self-defense.

Being able to recognize negative thoughts for what they are, and learning to adjust based on those thoughts, is the crucial skill you need to survive the marathon.

As long as you stay in motion, and adopt a little Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, you will get there.

Step by step.

 Hydration/nutrition

Watching a race with elite marathoners gives off a false impression. These runners barely break a sweat, and seemingly only rarely take a drink.

You won’t be so lucky.

Once your mind is right, the next phase to conquer is your nutrition and hydration plan.

Running long distances burns through carbohydrates, fluids, and vitamins and minerals of all kinds. Just like a car, you need to keep fuel in the tank.

Develop a habit from day one that you will always run with water or an electrolyte drink.

The truth is:

It’s not really an option.

Any run that approaches 45 minutes to an hour in length requires water.

The trick is figuring out the best way to carry it. You can purchase 10-ounce to 22-ounce ​handheld water bottles​. Or you can design routes that take you back home for refills.

On race day, you can carry your own bottle, as you've trained.

Just don't put any of this in it:

a glass getting filled up with red wine

Image: by rawpixel via Pixabay

Or you can rely on the hydration stations set up across the course. (We favor controlling your own destiny.)

Now nutrition:

When it comes to nutrition, this is also a must-do, and it will require experimentation.

Nutrition options range from jelly-bean-like candies to gels and energy bars and the like.

You’ll want to craft a ​fueling strategy​ where you take hydration and nutrition at regular, predictable intervals.

Here's the bad news:

Once you move into hydration and fuel negative, it’s too late. You’re going to feel lousy.

While we can’t guarantee hydration and nutrition would have saved Pheidippides, we are sure it will stave off your untimely demise.

 Choosing the right shoes (and socks)

Perhaps running got your attention because you believed it was a low-cost activity.

Just lace ‘em up and go, right?

Not quite.

When it comes to your feet, it is not a case of “any old shoe will do.”

To minimize the risk of getting sidelined by shin splints, plantar fasciitis or other ailments, you'll need some ​help in finding the​ right shoe and the right size for your feet.

A shoe that aligns to your running style. While it may seem that your gait is straight ahead and normal, for most people, it isn’t.

The truth is:

Most runners need additional stability in their shoes. And most runners also need help from trained specialists to determine how much stability to introduce.

For this, you should rely on Fleet Feet or other local running specialty stores.

Here’s another survival tip concerning your feet. Never, ever, ever run in cotton socks.

Cotton = moisture = blisters. Stay away.

Do this instead:

Rely on socks of a polyester/synthetic blend. Brands ​to consider​ include:

  • Balega
  • Darn Tough
  • Feetures
  • Smartwool

Love your feet. They’ll love you back.

 Stretching

Last but not least in our survival tips is one that we’re pretty sure Pheidippides didn’t have enough time to incorporate.

It’s a good idea to get your muscles warmed up at least a little before you punish them with so many run miles.

Lightly warm up. The key is introducing flexibility and not shocking your muscles. (I mean, you can just not tell them, but eventually, they find out.)

One trainer interviewed by Runner’s World suggests dynamic stretching pre-run. We think that’s a great idea, as long as you don’t get too aggressive and overdo it.

Listen up:

Your legs are going to feel tight after you run.

So a post-run stretching regimen will keep you limber, speed recovery, and get your ready for the next ready-set-go.

In addition to various types of stretches you can find online, consider investing in a massage tool - either a foam roller, a massage stick, massage ball or other forms.

These tools will help get your muscles ready to rock, and also help you address any post-run knots or aches and pains.

Whatever you choose:

Make it a habit. Whether you’re wearing armor, or not.

Getting to the Starting Line

The 16 or 18 weeks spent in training is geared toward one outcome: Getting you to the starting line, confident and injury free.

You're in for quite an experience. I hope you have lots of toilet paper and no shame.

In all seriousness, as we said earlier, the path from training to the starting line may well be a bumpy one.

You’ll have your doubts, your aches and pains, Your early mornings and tired evenings.

None of it matters.

When you toe that starting line on marathon morning, you’ve already won. You’ve accomplished something that only a small fraction of the world ever dreams of attempting.

You’ve trained for a marathon. Successfully. Revel in it. It is an accomplishment unto itself.

Should the race go awry, it doesn’t negate the incredible heart and backbone you exhibit to get through 16 to 18 weeks of intense training.

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PRO TIP:

The night before a marathon "lay out your running clothes," writes marathoner Henry Howard. "It’s easy to find photos of “Flat Runners” while checking out social media feeds on Friday and Saturday nights during prime race season. Runners regularly lay out their shorts/skirts, shirts, hats, compression gear, sneakers and more as flat versions of themselves."

Also:

Fill your water bottle and pack the nutrition you’ll carry.

All you want to do on race morning is get up, poop, eat, and go.

The starting line area of a marathon is unlike anything you’ll have experienced.

People will be everywhere, wearing every kind of attire. It will probably seem like everyone knows everyone.

You'll be one bundle of nerves, like everyone else. But don’t let the excitement get the best of you.

You'll need every ounce of energy. So, do this:

Stand still. Better yet, sit down.

If you can’t bring yourself sit down, then our advice is simple:

Go

To

The

Bathroom.

You think we’re kidding. We're not. Just do it.

(And be prepared to be in line. Or if you’ve got the right parts, go in the woods.)

 What to eat in the morning

One of the most common questions of new marathoners is, what should I eat on race morning?

It’s the same answer for every question about race morning.

Don’t ​do anything differently​.

If you eat peanut butter toast and banana before your long run, then do that.

Though we might suggest if your typical morning meal is McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets … maybe pass on those, at least for today.

Keep hydrated.

You’re going to need it. Yes, even if it means having to go to the bathroom.

You may want to adjust the timing, however. If you have a start time of 7:30 a.m., you could consider getting up a bit earlier to consume that first pre-race meal.

Some experts suggest that four hours before is a perfect time.

But we are not ​those experts​.

The whole idea is to get your energy stores up to 100 percent. Think of it like you’re filling a gas tank.

Think about it:

You’ll be spending down those stores as the miles go by. And this is why it’s so vital to have a fueling strategy during the race as well.

We all know what happens when a car runs out of fuel.

 Dressing for success

Let’s have a word about what to wear.

Just like we covered with socks: cotton is out. You’ll be miserable.

(The growers won’t be happy to hear this. But then again, they’re not running a marathon, are they?)

You’re going to want a polyester/synthetic blend for your shirt or shirts and the same for your bottoms. Anything else is chafe-city.

If it’s a warm-weather marathon, you’ll want to go as light as possible. Grab the silky-smooth technical shirts.

On the other hand:

Cold weather is where it gets tricky. Your body temperature will rise as you cover the miles.

That's why the key is to dress in layers. Start with a base layer, maybe from Craft or Helly Hanson. Then a lightweight mid-layer. If the winds are howling or its raining, then you'll need a wind and water repellent jacket.

a man jogging on a well-paved road with scenic mountain and lake view

Image: by sk​​eeze via Pixabay

a man running in the middle of the asphalt road

Image: by compsita via Pixabay

Dressing in layers allows you to lighten the load as you go. You can always tie your jacket around your waste.

Or, wear a mid-layer shirt that you wouldn’t mind discarding.

What makes it tricky is the waiting game in the morning, as you gather for the start. Those early morning hours can be chilly!

Don’t overdo it.

Remember that you’re about to run 26 miles. You’ll be super warm before you know it. Make your core dress be what you think would be appropriate for the ​end of the race​.

If it's super cold in the morning, again, wear clothes that you can part with. Or go to a Goodwill and buy a top and bottom you wouldn’t mind discarding.

And guess what?

Big-city marathons typically donate clothes left at the start so your efforts will go to good use.

On the Course -- What to Expect

And just like that, after 16 to 18 weeks of following your carefully cultivated marathon training plan, you’re on your way.

If there is one piece of advice you remember from this article, let it be this.

Start.

Slow.

The energy and enthusiasm at the ​start of a marathon​ are palpable and contagious.

It’s all enough to make you think you’re invincible.

That you can just speed through these 26 miles like the Roadrunner from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons.

Don’t try it. You’ll regret it. Run one mile at a time.

Around you will be all kinds. Men, women, young, old. Some may have jogging strollers (though most big marathons ban them.)

Some will be running together. Others will be running alone. Some will be listening to music.

Stay alert.

While marathons typically send runners out in waves, no group runs at a uniform pace.

You’ll find yourself on top of someone before you know it if you’re not paying attention.

Smile at the crowds. They’ll cheer for you even if they don’t know you. And read their signs. They’ll make you laugh.

Our all-time favorite: “​​Don’t Trust the Fart” (If you don’t know exactly what it means, you will soon.)

Don’t be afraid to take a walk break and catch your breath. A good time to do this is when you come upon a water station.

Stop, drink your fluids, nibble on your snacks, recollect yourself -- and then start again.

Trust us, you don’t want to be the runner who gamely tries to down water or Gatorade from a tiny cup without breaking stride.

Make sure to thank a volunteer as well as a police officer (or several.) The race could not happen without them.

And here's some awareness of a few final matters.

 There will be poop

Well...maybe. Since you’ve gotten through your training, you’ve probably figured out by now that running gets your bowels in motion.

Nobody really knows why. But there are ​som​​​​e t​​​​​​​​​heories​.

If you’re going to be in the marathon game, you might as well come to terms with the fact that in addition to grappling with your mind, you may be faced with the real urge to go No. 2.

Like everything else in marathon running, the time to address this is during the training phase.

Here's the good news:

You can, as you train, try different tactics to reduce or eliminate the need to … eliminate.

"When you run the marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time." ​Olympian Haile Gebrselassie​

For instance, you can try to reduce the amount of fat and fiber in your diet leading up to race day. Or control or reduce your caffeine intake.

But there are no guarantees.

So what happens if the urge hits you mid-race?

We beg of you. Heed the warning.

Marathons will typically station Port-o-Potties across the course, every few miles.

Here are the facts:

You’re just going to have to take a pit stop. And you’re probably going to have to wait in line.

Considering the alternative...come to think of it, there is no alternative. Wait it out, and you’ll feel so much better when you get back out on the course.

 There may be blood

Don’t get alarmed.

Your body isn’t going to start a gusher just because you’re running a marathon. (Although it may like to do so.)

What we’re talking about is anything from an injury (you fall and the pavement gouges your knee) to the dreaded bloody runner’s nipple (caused by chafing) to the very uncommon blood in your urine.

The fact is:

The marathon puts a strain on your body. Your body fights back in any number of ways. Some of which aren’t exactly pretty.

For example, a common marathon injury surrounds your toenails. It's possible that during your long runs you could game one of your toenails to the point where it has to be removed.

That too can lead to black and blue and bloody.

Whatever it is, the key, as always, is not to panic. (Unless someone asks you to run in a suit of armor. Then: panic.)

That would be indeed something to worry about, not the fact that you're covering 42,000 kilometers in (hopefully) less than 6 hours.

 Listening to music

One of the ways that runners distract themselves from the pain and potential misery of the marathon is by listening to music.

This is fine if you're doing a run around the neighborhood, as long as your head up and feet on the sidewalk. (Being on the road has some hazards if you can't hear traffic.)

But listen:

The environment is different on race day. When you're surrounded by other runners, it's essential for you to be able to hear.

Many marathons in their terms of service will actually ban the use of headphones on the course, for precisely this reason. And many runners will ignore those terms of service.

Don't be that guy.

You’re taking a risk not only for your physical safety but of being pulled off the course and banned from the race.

The more significant reason not to listen to music during the marathon? Race day is about the experience.

And the truth is:

If you’re zoned out on your music, you miss an opportunity to connect with your fellow man.

If you must use music (and some runners are lost without it), then consider putting only one earbud in at a time.

That way you can hear what’s going on around you and maintain a good rhythm.

 Breaking the wall

You’ve probably heard this phrase before, and, maybe, wondered what it meant. Could it be that marathon courses have walls you have to break through to finish?

Not literal ones.

We're talking about the figurative runner's wall. It's that time of the race when the fun-time is over, and the groaning begins.

Everything starts to bother you.

The feel of your shoes.

The sloshing in your stomach.

The 15th time of seeing the “World’s Worst Parade” sign.

This is just your body talking, trying to trick you into handing over control.

Most likely you will hit some form of a runner’s wall within the last six miles of the marathon. Your legs will get heavy, and your brain will tell you it's time to quit.

Don't fall for it.

The first line of defense against the runner’s wall is in your training program. If you are running within your capacity -- not at the maximum or the minimum all the time -- you have the best chance of seeing the wall coming.

"Hitting the wall will, over time, and with decent punches, strengthen your knuckles. "--​Jay Coe​, Contender

And getting through it is about coping strategies.

Possibly the biggest sign of having hit the wall is when the miles start going by much more slowly, and it becomes harder and harder to keep moving forward.

Here's the thing:

For some runners, the wall is way more than mental. Their muscles will cramp or seize up, and it will bring their runs to a premature conclusion. If you follow the best possible marathon training program, you have the best chance of beating the wall.

Coping and adjusting to that, plain and simple, is a function of listening to your body.

If you train smartly, you’ll be able to recognize the onset of the wall and implement your strategies for ​powering through​.

Is It Worth It?

Is your question whether doing something that could leave you dehydrated and unable to walk for days, make you lose toenails, and cause your nipples to drip blood “worth it?”

Duh. Of course, it is!

Running a marathon really isn’t about the physical feat.

It's about building a belief that you can do extraordinary things. Enormously difficult situations that require dedication and a commitment to follow-through with the right amount of training.

And along the way of accomplishing those fantastic things, you get the chance to experience the outdoors, meet and make new friends, and see parts of the world you can't see sitting at a computer.

And to think...

we may owe it all to one Greek soldier, who, thousands of years ago was sent to town as a messenger but emerged as a running God whose name is everywhere in the explanation of the evolution of running.

If only he had chosen the right marathon training plan.

Yes. It’s worth it.

Do you know anyone who has run a marathon? Have you started training yet yourself? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Nike FitSole Women’s Review – What Makes it Compared to Competitors

Nike FitSole Women's Review

Nike is known for its shoes and has tons of great options if you’re looking for running shoes in particular.

However, finding a pair of running shoes that meet your specific requirements that are also affordable is difficult to do.

Here we take a look at the Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe to see if it fulfills these criteria!

Overview Of Nike Fitsole Women’s

Here are the Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe’s most important features:

Product Specifications

Size

The best part about the Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe is that is accurate and dependable when it comes to size and fit. This makes it a shoe that is designed to bring you comfort.

Weight

The Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe weighs 7.4 ounces. It is a particularly lightweight shoe which is a big advantage, but could also affect the durability of the shoe long-term.

Terrain

The Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe is specifically built for running on roads. Even though it doesn’t necessarily have too many technologies built in it provides you with the standard amount of protection.

Breathability

This shoe has a considerable amount of ventilation, making it the perfect shoe for running on pavements (which tend to get hot).

Pricing and Availability

The Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe costs more or less $75 making it an affordable option for you.

It is also available on Amazon for between $45.99 and $149. Naturally, how much you want to spend on a running shoe is entirely your choice and should fall in line with your personal budget.

How Does It Compare?

The only way to really know how effective the Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe is as a running shoe is to compare it to other shoes that boast of many of the same qualities.

Here is a comparison of the Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe with the Adidas Cosmic 2.0 SL and with the Nike Revolution 4 FlyEase.


  • Price
  • EAse of Use
  • Build Quality

The Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe is priced at the range or $60 to $150 which makes it a fairly affordable shoe, especially given its quality.


adidas Women's Cosmic 2 Sl W Running Shoe
  • Runner type: neutral
  • Seamless stretch mesh upper for breathability; Collar adds soft comfort
  • FITCOUNTER molded heel counter provides a natural fit that allows optimal movement of the Achilles
  • Price
  • EAse of Use
  • Build Quality

The Adidas Cosmic 2.0 SL Women’s shoe is not as sturdy as the Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe; also a lightweight shoe, the durability of this shoe was impacted by this with the sole of the shoe being more susceptible to wear and tear.

No products found.


No products found.

  • Price
  • EAse of Use
  • Build Quality

At just $60 to $150, the Nike Revolution 4 FlyEase is relatively cheaper than the Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe.

Product

Price

Ease of Use

Build Quality

Nike Fitsole Women's

Nike Fitsole Women's

Adidas Cosmic 2.0 SL

Adidas Cosmic 2.0 SL

Nike Revolution 4 FlyEase

Nike Revolution 4 FlyEase

Pros and Cons

Regardless of how the Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe compares to other similar shoes, it has to be the right shoe for you.

The best way to figure this out is to look at its various pros and cons and then make a decision based on what you specifically want from a running shoe.

The Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe is unique in that you can wear the shoe from day one without any real difficulty! This means that the shoe is able to fit properly from the very beginning.

The Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe provides for flexibility. This is due to the outsole being made of rubber and thereby allowing for a strong grip and traction while running. It is a great example of a simple design with extraordinary results.

The Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe is a great option as it is quite inexpensive. Moreover, it is surprisingly inexpensive for a shoe that is not only lightweight but also durable and well-made.

However, the Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe mid-foot might be a tad bit too high for some runners which can make the shoe a little uncomfortable. The flat tongue of the Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe can cause some issues; in particular, it can cause irritation to the foot.

Pros

  • No Breaking in Required
  • Flexible Outsole
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Midfoot
  • Flat Tongue

What’s the Final Verdict?

So it sounds like the Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe is a great option for you if you are looking for an inexpensive but durable and effective running shoe. That’s why I am giving it a 4.5 out of 5-star rating.

So now it’s up to you to try out the Nike FS Lite Run 4 Women’s shoe and see if it meets your expectations!