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10 Ways to Have a More Comfortable Run

10 Ways to Have a More Comfortable Run

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Published on March 8, 2019

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

Think about your current workouts:

If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

    A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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    Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

    Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

    Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

    Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

    This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

    Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

    Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

    The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

    Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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    Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

    Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

    The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

    The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

    Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

    Meet Strong Stan

    Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

    While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

    While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

    Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

    Meet Flexible Fiona

    Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

    Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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    To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

    Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

    It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

    Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

    Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

    What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

    In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

    In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

    So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

    You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

    If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

    If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

    Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

      Final Thoughts

      If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

      Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

      Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

      With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

      More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

      Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

      Reference

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