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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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Holly Chavez

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Published on July 18, 2019

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, chances are you wouldn’t mind a little more definition in your midsection.

Whether you have a six pack or a beer belly, those abs could probably be a little bit sharper. Not to mention developing better core strength is hugely important when it comes to improving your overall strength and athleticism, as well as protecting you from injuries.[1]

The good news? Your abs and core muscles can handle a lot of training.

While most of your muscle groups do best with just two training sessions per week,[2] you can hit your abs every other day to great effect. You don’t even have to leave the house!

Here’s my guide to the 11 best core strengthening exercises you can do at home with no equipment.

1. Planks

Let’s start with the mother of all core-strengtheners, the plank.

Planks not only work your abs and obliques, they challenge those core muscles deep inside your body that help promote stability and power. They can also reduce back pain and improve your balance and posture.

Get down into pushup position, feet behind you, hands under your shoulders. Lock out your arms and legs, squeeze your core muscles, and hold your body stiff (like a plank!) for as long as you can.

For a more challenging variation, try a forearm plank with your arms out in front you. Lay your forearms on the ground for support, with your elbows under your face rather than aligned with your shoulders.

2. Side Planks

To hit your obliques even harder, try this challenging variation: the side plank.

From plank position, rotate onto one side. Prop yourself up on your elbow and one foot with your body straight and stiff.

Don’t forget to squeeze your core as you hold this position for as long as you can.

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Switch sides and repeat to avoid creating muscle imbalances.

3. Reverse Crunches

The regular stomach crunch is a fine exercise, but when it comes to abs and core strength, you’ll want to opt for moves that are a lot more challenging.

When you can crank out 50 crunches without a problem, it’s probably time for something new.

The reverse crunch packs a wallop for your lower abs and can be done anywhere, anytime, just like the standard crunch.

Lay on your back with knees bent in crunch position. Place your hands flat on the ground by your side and lift your pelvis, bringing your knees up toward your face, then back down again.

Engage your lower ab muscles to do the work, not your back. Repeat for a few sets of 12-20 reps.

4. Flutter Kicks

The lower abs are a problem area for a lot of people, so we’ll want to work them hard.

If that sounds like you, flutter kicks are just what the doctor ordered.

Lay flat on your back in leg raise position, hands at your sides or pressed into the floor. Raise your legs together about 6 inches off the floor, then alternate lowering one and raising one a few inches in rapid succession.

It should look like you’re kicking the air, and it should give you quite a burn in your abdominal area.

5. Arms High Sit-Ups

Imagine a crunch, but way harder!

Lay down on the ground in sit-up position, knees bent, feet flat on the floor in front of you.

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Raise your arms up to the sky and keep them elevated as you perform a few sets of sit-ups.

Engaging your arms in this way makes the move extraordinarily difficult and taxing. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of this move versus traditional crunches.

6. L-Sits

The L-Sit is outrageously difficult to perform well, but if you can build your strength here, the benefits are phenomenal.

To perform an L-Sit, you’ll need a stable surface to press off of. You can do them on the floor, but it’s a little easier if you can elevate yourself on a pair of dumbbells, two sturdy chairs, or a similar apparatus.

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lock your arms in place at your sides, palms on the ground or surface, and press. Bring your legs into the air, perpendicular to your upper body, using the tension from your locked arms.

Hold this position as long as possible for an intense strength building workout.

7. Stomach Vacuums

And now for something different!

It’s easy to work your front-facing abdominal muscles, but there is another muscle group in your core that’s frequently overlooked: The transverse abdominis.

This muscle isn’t visible through your skin, but it’s incredibly important in stabilizing your body, creating good posture, and holding your belly in tight to your spine.

To strengthen this muscle and get a flatter stomach, try stomach vacuums.[3]

Standing straight and tall. Exhale all of the air out of your body and simultaneously pull your belly in tight. Imagine sucking your belly button back into your spine.

You’ll feel the transverse abdominis engage. Hold as long as possible, rest and then repeat.

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8. Star Planks

Planks are too effective to not utilize multiple variations of them in your routine.

The star plank engaged similar muscles to the traditional plank, but is a lot harder to hold for time.

From the push-up or standard plank position, walk your feet out wide and your hands, as well.

Your body should form an X position. Elevate your core off the ground, squeeze tight, and hold for as long as possible.

9. Boat Pose

Yogis know all about core strength, so if you want a tighter tummy, you should take a page out of their playbook.

Boat pose is an extremely difficult isometric hold that builds exceptional balance and core power.

Star in sit-up position. Crunch yourself up toward your knees, then lift your feet off the floor until they’re about level with your face. Balance on your butt, squeeze your core, and hold this position as long as you can.

Your body should form a V with the only point of contact being your butt on the ground. Holding boat pose should be extraordinarily challenging!

10. Mountain Climbers

Ab work alone won’t shred stomach fat. But when you combine abs and cardio, that’s when you’re onto something magical.

Mountain climbers fit the bill if you’re looking to blast your core and also work up a good sweat.

Get down into plank position. With your arms locked and your body tight, drive one knee at a time off the floor, up toward your chest, and then back to its original position. Repeat in quick succession.

It should look like you’re climbing a hill, and it should exhaust you in a matter of seconds!

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11. Russian Twists

Finally, let’s give the obliques a little more love.

Get down into sit-up position and perform a crunch toward your knees. From here, lean back so your torso is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, clasp your hands in front of you, and twist side to side in rapid succession.

You’ll feel your obliques engage after just a few reps.

For a more difficult variation, lift your feet off the floor similar to boat pose while perform the move, or perform the twist using a heavy medicine ball for added resistance.

The Bottom Line

The biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to six-pack abs is a low body fat percentage. That’s best accomplished by sticking to a smart diet and building your fully body strength.

However, if you want to improve your athleticism, overall strength, or even your longevity, you can afford to work your abs a bit more frequently — 3-4 times per week is perfect.

If you hit them hard enough, you’ll probably see some great improvement in definition as well!

Cranking out endless crunches is one way to go about core training, but there are so many better and more challenging moves you can try without ever having to leave your living room.

Give them a shot!

Featured photo credit: Luis Quintero via unsplash.com

Reference

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