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Run Right

Seven tips for getting the most out of running

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Tip 1: WATCH YOUR FORM
Correct running form will keep you injury free and make you more efficient in the race. Your torso should lean forward as you run; it should not be upright. Do not land with the heel in front of you but rather directly underneath you.

Tip 2: GET TESTED
"The height of your foot's arch has nothing to do with how much you pronate," says ARA chairman Bruce Wilk. "A low arch could under-pronate." To find out your specific gait, get tested by an expert. Running specialty shops will help you understand your analysis and find an appropriate shoe.

Tip 3: SWITCH IT UP
Watt recommends varying the pace when you're running. Try an interval run, for example, in which you change your tempo several times during the run: Speed up for a few minutes and then return to your previous, more comfortable, pace.

Tip 4: GO OFF-ROAD
"Running on trails never gets boring," says Dave Watt, executive director of the American Running association. His advice: Be sure to wear a shoe that has more grip or traction, and stick with trail-specific running shoes. Also keep in mind that running on trails is best while it's still light out — there are no street lamps in the woods.

Tip 5: SHOW OFF
"If you're running at night, reflective clothing is mandatory," says Watt. You may be able to see cars coming, but they can't always see you, so make yourself as visible as possible. And always face traffic when running in the road.

Tip 6: STAY DRY
"Wet shoes can't do their job," says Wilk. "They stretch and lose their ability to hold and support you." When you run, your feet sweat and get wet. You should have two pairs of running shoes if you run every day. After a run, give your shoes a day to dry and wear a different pair the next day.

Tip 7: KEEP YOUR SHOES YOUNG
If any part of your shoe is coming apart or if the cushioning pockets are crushed, it's time to buy a new pair. "Just look at the shoes and you'll be able to tell when their time has come," says Wilk.

Bonus Tip:
Practice running at 180 steps per minute. While this faster cadence may feel strange at first, it will help you long term. Check your cadence during your warm up by using your watch to count steps. Count every footstep for 10 seconds—180 steps per minute equals 30 steps every 10 seconds. Anything less than a 180 cadence means that the stride is too long and that the heel of the foot lands too far in front of your body. This causes a braking action in your stride and increases the risk of lower-leg injury. Shorten your stride and let the foot meet the ground almost directly under your hip. You may feel that you're now landing more on the balls of your feet than on the heels, and that's fine. There is less impact and the feet are carrying the body's weight for a shorter period of time.

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