In my last post, sharing how I’ve lost 45lbs in the last year, I mentioned that doing more cardio - aka running - has been a game changer in shedding the more stubborn pounds. Trust me when I say, I am NOT a runner… well at least I wasn’t before April of this year.
I was the kind of person that would work up the courage to run, I would finally put foot to pavement then about .33 miles later I would give up, walk home and wait another 8 months to a year to try again. This pattern persisted through high school, college and… well… until April when I decided to see what it was like to not give up. Legitimately the furthest I’ve ever ran was the 1 mile I was forced to do in gym class and for cheer tryouts back in the day. I would slide in under the 12 minute max you had to do it, then promptly sit and eat McDonalds because I #EarnedIt! So, that is my complicated relationship with running.
Last October, I watched two of my best friends complete their first full marathon and while I have exactly no desire to ever run 26.2 miles in one go, I do have a goal of participating in and finishing an Olympic triathlon by the end of 2020. An Olympic triathlon is a 1,650 yard swim, 24.9 mile bike ride and 6.2 mile run. I am pretty confident in my cycling, I am going to start participating in open water swims which I also feel decent about, so the most daunting part is the 6.2 mile run at the end of the race. I have to get comfortable with running and be able to have an easy, breezy 10k under my belt before I can consider an Olympic triathlon. THAT is my motivation to not quit, that and I’m trying to get my body to prove a point to my brain that I am, in fact, capable of doing more than my brain says I can do… confusing, I know, but it's a very real motivation.
Now, for what you actually came here for: What I do to make running suck less (because I’m pretty sure to some degree, it will always suck).
Get fitted for running shoes. When I started running, I did so in my comfiest, most supportive pair of gym shoes. They weren’t good enough for the impact I was putting them through, my hips would hurt and my ankles would ache after runs. I have ridiculously high arches, I’ve never had a pair of shoes touch the arches of my feet before… ever. Because of this, I pronate so bad (which means my ankles “collapse” inward when I walk/run). I went to Big River Running here in St. Louis, specifically the Manchester location, and saw my friend Nicole. She did a full assessment of my walk and stride on their fancy computer tools. We tried probably 10 pairs of shoes from all different brands. We found my perfect combination of the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo Shoes with Currex High Profile Run Pro insoles. They’ve made a world of difference in my run and how I feel after running.
Running belt. I have the Sport2People running belt from Amazon. I listen to music and like the security of having my phone on me when I run. The arm bands aren’t my cup of tea but this belt fits my phone (iPhone 8+ with case), has a place to plug in your headphones if you’re not cool enough for AirPods like me. Then there is another smaller pocket for an ID, cash, house keys and dog treats. This belt stays put, doesn’t run, is snug, has a reflective strip and is water/sweat proof.
Have a great playlist ready. While I haven’t mastered the art of pacing with a song’s BPM, I do find that I run better when I listen to music that I actually enjoy and has a good beat. I tried some of Spotify’s curated playlists but when a song came on that I didn’t know or wasn’t feeling, my mood and pace suffered.
Apple Watch + Strava App. I like knowing how hard I work and mapping my run is crucial for me. I constantly wear my Apple Watch but I especially enjoy it with my Strava app, this app was suggested to me by some of my fit friends and it is great. You can track runs, rides and swims (hello triathlon training). You can also connect with friends and encourage one another, it is definitely my favorite mapping/tracking app.
Fueling back up. After a run, no matter how intense, I follow up with a protein shake. I just made my body work hard and I want to replenishing with good stuff before I start eating all the things. Running makes me crazy hungry, it really gets the metabolism going! I like Tone It Up protein, its vegan (easiest on my gut) and is always super smooth and tasty, I often just mix with water or if I’m actually trying I’ll put it in a smoothie.
Stretching is actually important. You heard it here first, jk, literally every suggestion for a runner is to stretch. I ignored this for many weeks and the result as super tight hips, hammies, quads and a fair bit of soreness. This was resolved by regular stretching or foam rolling even for 5 minutes after a run. Do it, it’s magic. Don’t be like me and think you’re too good or rather busy for stretching.
Hair Up, Hat On. This is important to me, I can NOT stand the feeling of my hair brushing against my back when I run. So I have to not just put my hair in a pony tail but I need to braid my hair. Otherwise it sticks to my sweaty back... ewww... and gets super tangled. I've been doing this twist braid thing, it is super super easy (I am putting a video of me doing it on instagram, so check there for a little tutorial). Then I also wear a hat, specifically a running hat so that none of my cute hats get sweaty and gross. I wear a hat for a couple of reasons, it keeps the sun out of my eyes and off my face but also I wear my glasses pretty often and the hat keeps my glasses from bouncing around/sliding of my face. I know, its genius.
I’d love to say running doesn’t suck anymore, but it does and I think it always will but I have goals to reach. Beside that, it really does bring me amazing results, when I am eating well and I add in a run, the scale ALWAYS moves. Runs clear my head (and my lungs). The post run endorphins are legit, I am a major fan of those. If you have was to make running suck even less, I would love to hear them!
*This post contains some affiliate links, all ideas and opinions are my own!