Kick Your Running Game Up a Notch
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7 Steps to Improve Your Run
1. Loosen Your Grip
Many runners hold tension in their upper body (such as clenching their fists), which can make a run feel twice as hard. Allowing your hands to loosen up translates into reduced tension in the shoulders and less wasted energy. Try this simple trick to check yourself: Roll up a sheet of paper and run with it for a few minutes (as if you were holding a baton in a 400-meter relay). If the paper comes back crunched, you are squeezing too hard!
2. Brush Your Teeth, Floss Your Feet
Your feet are the only things that come into contact with the ground every single time you walk and run, yet they’re seldom shown any love. To improve proprioception and loosen the tissues on the bottoms of your feet, place a small tennis ball on the floor and gently roll from the heel to the ball of the foot. Try performing this simple massage technique (or “flossing”) for 30 seconds on each foot every morning and night. Make it part of your daily routine by flossing your feet every time you brush your teeth!
3. Slow Your Breathing
Breathing is the number one thing that beginner and intermediate runners do wrong. By trying to bring in so much oxygen so quickly, you’re not getting rid of all the CO2 in your lungs. As a result, you’re starving your lungs of oxygen – the exact opposite of what you want. Slow down your breathing, relax a little, and you’ll find running is much easier.
4. Empty Your Mind
Many coaches try to improve stride by asking runners to consciously modify their form (take shorter steps, land on the front of the foot instead of the heel). But studies dating all the way back to the 1960s have consistently shown that such consciously enforced changes make runners less efficient as it forces you to think about your movements, which increases brain activity. Emptying your mind and not focusing on your body as you run will help you evolve the stride that is most economical for your body.
5. Find Your Pace
Whether you’re running for time or distance, finishing faster than you started delivers a huge psychological boost. Time the first half of your run and try to beat that time on the second half. If you’re unable to pick up the pace, you know you went out a little too fast.
6. Run Shorter, Get Faster
Tabata training is an excellent tool for increasing speed. Whether you do it on a treadmill or outside, the technique is the same: Run at full speed for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest (come to a complete stop or jump off to the sides of the treadmill to recover), repeating this speed/rest cycle 6 to 8 times, completing 3 to 5 sets total.
7. Grin and Bear It
When you’re starting to crash and burn during a run, put a big smile on your face. The mere act of smiling can have a profoundly positive impact on you mentally and physically, often helping to pull you out of your dark place and get you back on track.
6 Exercises Guaranteed to Strengthen Your Run
The Basic Plank
Hold for 30 seconds, relax, and repeat. Gradually increase the number of repetitions and the length of time you hold the pose.
The Superman Pose
Lie face down. Raise one arm off the ground and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Release and raise the other arm. Then move to your legs; hold one leg at a time off the ground. Then, try holding an alternate leg and arm off the ground at the same time. Then, try both arms up at one time and then both legs at one time. The most advanced version is holding both arms and legs off the ground at one time; hence the name Superman Pose. Hold each of these poses for 20 to 30 seconds, relax, and repeat.
Lie on your back, knees bent and bring your chest towards your knees. Keep your shoulders back and chin up. Repeat.
Stand with your feet staggered, your right foot forward. Squat down so that your left knee is lowered toward, but not touching, the floor. Lower down to a count of two, and rise back up to a count of two. Repeat on the other leg. Make it harder by doing Jumping Lunges: Step forward with your left foot and lower into a lunge. Jump straight up off the floor, swinging your arms forward and switching your legs in midair, like scissors. Land in a lunge with your right leg forward.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, arms out, and palms down. Draw your belly button in, and lift your hips up by pressing your feet into the ground. Keep your hips level – don’t let one side dip – while raised. Contract your core, your glutes, and then your hamstrings in this position. Hold for three to five seconds.
Stand as tall as you can with your feet spread shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Pause, then slowly push yourself back to the starting position. Make sure your front knee doesn’t extend past your toes. Keep your upper body “tall” and don’t lean forward.
Get Covered with The Comfort Sock
Below are 4 socks perfect for keeping you in comfort on your next run!
Prince Men’s Performance Plus Arch Crew
Prince socks are inspired by professional tennis athletes and built for athletic activities or everyday comfort. Coolmax Moisture Management Fibers transport moisture away from the skin to keep feet cool and dry and Zone Mesh technology adds breathability and comfort.
Prince Women’s Low Cut Tab
These Women’s No Show Tab socks feature an Achilles Tab for protection and to keep the sock in place. Moisture Management keeps feet cool and dry while Arch Compression offers support and stability to reduce foot fatigue.
Sources include Runners World and Shape.com