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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 August 29, 2019

How to Get Through a Weight Loss Plateau (Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Get Through a Weight Loss Plateau (Step-By-Step Guide)

Having a weight loss plateau is perfectly normal. Just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating though, and it feels like all your hard work has ground to a halt.

Instead of seeing a weight loss plateau as a roadblock, you need to see them as speed bumps that may get in the way from time to time but, can still be navigated.

This article will look at what causes these plateaus and how you can get through them the next time they may strike.

What Is a Weight Loss Plateau?

The basics of this plateau are that weight loss or fat loss has stalled after a period of progression. But what is the real reason this has happened and why does it occur when it does? Weight loss, or fat loss, has seemed to stall and the first thing to do is to recognize if this is a plateau.

If you weigh yourself daily, you know that there are fluctuations that occur each day. If you are weighing yourself every day, you want to at least be consistent with it. Your true weight will be first thing in the morning after you’ve gone to the bathroom. You want to weigh yourself at the same time and also make sure your scale is calibrated properly. Even a floor that is not perfectly even can give you an inaccurate reading.

It’s important to do this first thing as your weight can fluctuate just over one day, with people often seeing variations of 3-5 pounds. Since there are these daily changes, you want to take a different approach and look at your weekly averages week after week. This will give you a better snapshot at your progress and if you’ve actually reached a plateau or not.

True weight loss happens over weeks and months and that’s why tracking is important. You should see a gradual decrease over this longer time period. Healthy and sustained weight loss will be around 1-2 pounds per week. It’s a linear path that will have small up and down spikes over the time period but should still move progressively downward.

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When you see that the weight isn’t gradually dropping the way it had been over the past weeks and months, that can be your sign you’ve hit a true weight loss plateau.

The Issues with the Scale

A scale gives you some data but doesn’t always show the whole picture. You will not get an idea of true body composition as a regular scale will not show a balance between lean muscle and body fat. You may have lost 5 pounds of body fat, but gained 5 pounds of muscle and the number on the scale would stay the same. That body compositional change, however, would show some great physical results.

The body fat loss would help you appear leaner and the lean muscle gain would also enhance your overall appearance. You could look significantly different while the number on the scale hasn’t changed.

The scale is also not going to reveal issues surrounding water retention or bloating along with the hormonal fluctuations that can cause these issues. You can still check the scale, but a better indicator of weight loss will be with a tape measure.

When you’ve lost body fat, you will notice your clothes fitting differently and tracking your body part measurements can be a great way to monitor results. If you are going the tape measure route, measure these main areas:

  • Hips
  • Right thigh – at the midrange point
  • Waist – just below your ribcage and above your belly button
  • Chest – measure under the armpits
  • Right bicep – unflexed
  • Right calf
  • Neck

You can take measurements on your right and left appendages, but this is a good base of measurement to track progress.

Why Is Your Weight Not Going Down?

This may be because you are doing too much and not getting enough calories at the same time. If you are overdoing it in the gym, it can be like taking a few steps backward. Your workouts shouldn’t be over 75 minutes (30-40 may be all you need) and you want some rest days throughout the week. If you’re working out every day and exhausting yourself, your body will go into that self-preservation mode, raising stress hormones and, again, making weight loss difficult.

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If you are involved in an adequate exercise program (3-4 days per week) and going for a reasonable amount of time, you may need to add in a little more physical activity if you’ve reached a weight loss plateau. This doesn’t have to be overly intense but some extra cardio may help. This can be another 5-10 minutes on to what you are normally doing, or one or two 20-minute walks added on to your weekly amount.

You also want to make sure you’re eating enough and getting into a bit of a calorie deficit[1] if weight loss has stalled. You need not count every calorie but it’s a good idea to take a few days to track your nutrition intake so you at least have a good idea where you’re at.

Many people do not understand how many calories they are taking in each day. Calorie counting is far from a perfect science but to get a rough ballpark figure, the average woman needs around 2000 calories a day to maintain. An average man will need around 2500 calories.[2] There are many factors that can alter this requirement but this is a good starting point.

If you’re not losing weight, you’ll want to reduce that amount by around 300 calories each day and see how this is going after a week or so. If there has been no change, you might need to drop another 200 calories. You don’t want this to go lower as not enough calories can have a negative effect on your metabolism and will lead to stalled weight loss.

Is 1000 Calories a Day Too Little?

In a word? Yes. Your body needs more than that just to carry out its basic functions of living – and that’s not including you getting up and moving around. Even if you were just to lie on the couch all day, your body will need at least 1200 to 1400 calories just to exist. If you are not giving your body sufficient calories, it goes into panic mode. Your metabolism will drop as your body needs to hold on to every precious calorie to sustain itself. When this happens you can kiss weight loss goodbye. The other problem is eventually you will snap because you are so hungry and will eat everything in sight.

When you flood calories into a body with a slowed metabolism, you can guess what they end up being stored as.

Keeping yourself fed with high-quality, and nutritious foods will allow your body to run optimally and provide you with energy to be active, burn body fat, and bust through those weight loss plateaus.

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What to Do When You Hit a Weight Loss Plateau

This is where it’s important to take a step back and have a look at what’s been going on in your life. Tracking your info can be helpful because it gives you some data to observe. You don’t have to be obsessive about it but recording your workouts, sleep, stress levels and understanding your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and basic metabolic rate (BMR) will help give you an indicator where the problems may arise.

If you’ve noticed you’ve been overly stressed with work and life lately, this may be the culprit. When your body experiences stress, it elevates stress hormones such as cortisol. When cortisol is constantly elevated, it can slow weight loss to a crawl. Stress hormones are released in the body as a way to preserve itself. The body will be more likely to hold on to body fat as it believes some sort of trauma is happening and it needs all the backup fuel it can get. At this point, your body is not interested in burning body fat, or building muscle – it’s interested in preserving things.

Higher stress may also lead to a lack of sleep which causes the same issues, and when you add these two together, they compound their negative effects. If you’re seeing this to be the case, it means you will have to slow things down a bit. Make getting extra sleep a priority and you may have to back off the workouts for a bit. Even better, taking some time off from the gym can be a great way to let your whole body, central nervous system, and immune system recover.

This could be a good time to focus on relaxing, meditation, or yoga. You also want to make sure you’re keeping your diet as clean as possible as eating things like refined sugar and carbs when stressed can easily lead to weight gain.

Listen to your body and give it a breather when needed. Doing this will allow it to come back stronger than before.

How to Get Past a Weight Loss Plateau

When you hit a plateau, it’s a sign that your body is becoming complacent. There is no longer enough stimulation to warrant a response from your body. If you remember back to high school biology, you’ll recall homeostasis. This is a state of balance and it’s the preferred state your body wants to be in. Your body is all about self-preservation and keeping things stable. This is an evolutionary response to conserve energy for those times when it may be more needed.

Your body will learn to do things as efficiently as possible and therefore, you will progress with weight loss, and muscle and strength gains for a while – but then it hits a wall. Your body has figured out how to efficiently manage what you’re throwing at it, and this means it’s time to switch things up.

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For workouts, you want to always keep your body guessing. The best workout is the one you haven’t done yet. Your body needs an ever-changing stimulus in order to get more results. The good news is this doesn’t have to be a drastic overhaul. If you’re exercising, you just want to make changes to your routine, exercise order, duration, or repetitions. At the very least, you want to do at least what you did last workout – plus a little more. If you ran for 30 minutes, go for 32 next time. If you did 10 repetitions of an exercise, go for 11 or 12.

You can change the order of the exercises you do, perform some cardio before strength training, add in some high-intensity intervals, or shorten your rest periods between sets. The main thing is to give a bit of a shock to your body in order for it to change.

Final Thoughts

Weight loss plateaus will happen, it’s just all about being prepared for when they strike. Getting an understanding of why they happen is important to progress past them. What’s also important is realizing how your body works, and what it needs in order for it to respond favourably to exercise and diet.

A weight-loss plateau can be overcome with changes in activity, addressing lifestyle issues, and keeping the diet as clean as possible. Recognizing when stress has overwhelmed you, sleep is being neglected, and you need a break will go a long way in helping combat weight loss plateaus.

You also need to be aware of consuming enough calories per day and the issues that come from not nourishing your body properly. Healthy weight loss is all about combining exercise, diet, rest, recovery, and an overall holistic approach for it to happen.

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Featured photo credit: Gesina Kunkel via unsplash.com

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