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Master the 7 Biggest Obstacles to Running

Running coach Andrew Kastor helps you smash through the toughest personal roadblocks.

Don’t let common aches, pains, or excuses get between you and your roadwork. We asked Andrew Kastor, a running coach from Mammoth Lakes, CA, who has worked with multiple Olympians, for some head-to-toe tips to help you overcome the biggest obstacles that keep people from lacing up.

No Motivation
One way to ensure you keep running: Set a public goal. “Tell all your friends that you’re doing a race,” says Kastor. “That way, you’ll have to answer to all the people asking about your progress. This creates a sense of accountability and forces you to stick to your goals.” Or ante up and make a bet with a friend—nothing motivates like cash!

Side Stitches
The best way to keep them at bay, according to Kastor, is to eat your pre-run meal at least 60 minutes before you begin training. “When the stomach is full, it robs the abdominal lining of blood and causes cramps,” he says. Breathing deeply while you run and loading up on electrolyte-rich drinks should also help.

Joint Pain
“If you have sore knees or ankles, postpone your runs for a couple of days to give your body time to recover,” says Kastor. The problem could also stem from poor form when you’re running, or it might be your shoes. Check ’em to see if they’re worn down. “If they’ve seen more than 350 miles, it’s time to get a new pair.”

Sore Shoulders
Whether you’re jogging or sprinting, whenever your body is in motion, your goal should always be to keep your elbows at 90 degrees and your shoulders relaxed—even while you’re “pumping” up a hill. When your upper body feels tight after a run, it’s usually because you’ve been carrying your shoulders too high.

Short of Breath
“If you’re sucking wind, you’re running too fast!” says Kastor. “Slow down and try to stick to a conversational pace—about a six on a scale of one to 10. Taking off with a full-on sprint out of the gate can leave you hyperventilating five to 10 minutes into a run,” he says. “Starting out slowly helps promote a longer, more satisfying run.”

Chaffing
There are numerous products to help relieve uncomfortable skin-on-skin contact points. Kastor recommends Asics Chafe Free Powder. He also suggests wearing spandex under your running shorts to further reduce friction. Extreme distances call for extreme measures. “Many elite marathoners use Vaseline between their thighs, under their armpits, and on their toes.”

Blisters
Most blisters are caused by wearing the wrong socks. To avoid ’em, steer clear of cotton since it gets soggy when you sweat. “Try a running-specific pair of socks instead,” says Kastor. “The type that wick away moisture and won’t bunch up under the heel or ball of your foot.” Also, make sure you lace your shoes using every eyelet and always tie them tight enough to keep your heel from slipping.

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