More than 19 million people in the U.S. finish at least one official race event per year, and millions more run outside of official events. However, there are numerous obstacles that can prevent people from reaching their running goals, including avoidable physical discomfort.

Here are 10 tips to help you run more comfortably so that you can reach and exceed all of your goals.

1. Map out Each Run

There may be some excitement involved in simply stepping outside and running in a random direction, but this is not the best way to get the most out of each experience. In fact, failure to map out each run in advance could cause you to run into numerous obstacles that will not only hinder your run but could even be dangerous. Keep in mind that construction projects, special events and road closures are a way of life, and they can get in the way of your next run. Therefore, a little bit of prep work before you go outside can ensure a much better and more satisfying result.

2. Invest in Prescription Sports Goggles or Sports Sunglasses

Running with glasses on can be cumbersome, but it is also imperative for those who need corrective lenses so that they can focus on road signs and the ground beneath them. Sunglasses can also be vital on bright days, and you may need a combination of the two to get through a marathon.

Fortunately, there are prescription sports glasses for runners available from retailers such as GooglesNMore.com that can improve your physical comfort without forcing you to sacrifice your need to have clear vision. This option is also beneficial for swimmers, bikers, Tough Mudders and anyone else who is putting on their weekend warrior suit. Additionally, sunglasses are available in a wraparound goggle format that will prevent them from slipping off your face.

3. Purchase the Right Shoes for Your Needs

Something as simple as buying a new pair of running shoes can actually become needlessly complicated due to the wide variety of options that are available. However, it is not a wise idea to buy the first pair that looks nice and comes in the right size. Each of us has different foot needs that should be honored when we buy running shoes. For example, if you have flat feet, you will need to purchase stability shoes that offer strong arch support and are relatively stiff.

4. Wear Properly Fitted Clothing

Walking in clothing that is too tight or too loose feels awkward enough as it is, but when you add running into the mix, this becomes a recipe for disaster. Not only will the clothes cling or hang off of you in an uncomfortable way but you will also run the risk of experiencing unnecessary chaffing. Clothing that is extremely loose may also snag more easily on your surroundings. If your pants are too long, you may end up with some of the fabric caught underneath your feet. Steer clear of these potential issues by choosing a running outfit that fits properly so that you can focus on running instead of dealing with clothing related issues.

5. Choose Moisture Wicking Materials

Many people make the mistake of choosing cotton because it feels soft, but you need a moisture wicking outfit to keep sweat from causing irritation and chaffing. Moisture wicking materials are imperative for sports bras and underwear. Turn to technical running clothing to improve your comfort and even make it easier to regulate your temperature during the summer and winter. Online resources such as Running Warehouse specialize in carrying moisture wicking materials and running shoes.

6. Maintain a Proper Pace

It is tempting to give it your all at the beginning or end of a run. Unfortunately, setting an uneven pace will make the rest of the run less comfortable and could even lead to physical injuries. That being the case, you need to pick a steady pace that is either fully comfortable or slightly pushes your limits to have a good running experience. You can improve your pacing and timing by making slight increases over time. Taking this approach will also make you less likely to suffer from an injury.

7. Focus on Positive Aspects

It has been scientifically proven that negative thinking can reduce your psychological well-being in the short and long-term, so you should always make a strong attempt to focus on the positive aspects of each run as opposed to letting negativity seep into your day. Even if everything seems to be going wrong, try to find one positive thing to focus on. For example, if the area where you want to run is unexpectedly under construction, you can focus on the positive benefits of getting to explore a new area instead.

8. Select a Route that is Visually Pleasing

If you walk outside right now, do you see something pleasing or a drab setting that does not make you feel uplifted? The answer to this will help determine whether or not you should run in your own neighborhood or take a trip to a nearby park before you get started. Ultimately, your surroundings will have a major impact on your ability to stay interested and in a good mood throughout your run. This is the primary reason that so many people choose to run in the woods, and it also helps explain the huge popularity of aesthetically-pleasing virtual runs for people who prefer to exercise on their treadmill.

9. Remove Pressure by Running without a Timer

It can be tempting to time each of your runs, especially if you are training for a marathon. Removing this pressure, though, makes it more possible for you to enjoy the experience and go down the path less traveled when it presents itself. You can still keep a basic eye on how far you go and in what time period, but try not to develop any strict adherence to getting through a run in a hard and fast time frame.

10. Stretch after Each Run

Conventional wisdom used to state that we should always stretch before exercising, but more recent research indicates that this is counter-productive and may increase your injury risk. Stretching is still very important, though, and you need to devote at least five minutes to this activity at the end of each run. It is also smart to have a cool off period after your run during which you slow down by walking for a few minutes. Taking this step will increase your post-run comfort and will keep your body in better shape for your next run.

Now that you have the tools necessary to make your next run more comfortable, you can begin focusing on other running tips that can help you boost your overall performance. Combining all of this useful information will make you a better runner and could give you everything that you need to complete a marathon.

Featured photo credit: John Benson via flickr.com

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