Running is a great way to drop weight, build tone in your legs, and keep your body in prime shape. However, while you may hit the pavement hard to drop 20 pounds or complete your first marathon, if you aren’t careful, you can hit your plateau. This is a problem that many long-term runners face: After a while (or initial weight loss), their bodies get used to the workout a run gives them, and they see fewer results or changes.
But, those who run for life adopt a few habits that motivate them, keep them on their toes, and keep their bodies guessing. Learn these habits and you, too, can continue to break running barriers and tackling new distances. Here are habits of that all highly motivated runners possess:
Eat your veggies.
Vegetables should be a staple in every runner’s diet. They are low in calories and packed with nutrients. Veggies give you high-quality carbs that will help you power through your runs, and the antioxidants will help you recover. Not only are they good for your runs, but good for your overall health. Be sure to eat more vegetables and try to add them to every meal.
Warm up, stretch, and use a foam roll.
It’s important to warm up and stretch before all your runs, as it keeps the muscles loose and minimizes your injury risk. Dynamic stretches will prep your body for more intense activities, like running, especially after you have been sitting all day.
Since the repetitive movements of running tightens the muscles, you’ll want to do some static stretching after your run to ensure your muscles return to their pre-run length.
Lastly, using a foam roll sometime after your run loosens the tissue in a way that stretching cannot. Plus, it helps ease sore muscles.
Rely on home cooking.
Processed foods and restaurant meals are not only packed with high calories, fat, and sodium levels, but they also weigh you down. When you run a lot, you want to choose food and meals that fuel you for these workouts, and ones that will help your increase your speed and stamina.
When you cook at home, not only do you have the opportunity to find out what meals will do this for you, but you also are able to prepare healthy and tasty dishes. Not to mention, it saves you money in the long run.
Add a long run to your weekly routine.
New runners should strive to hit the track or treadmill at least three or four times a week. However, if you make one of those a long run (meaning about an hour long), you will build endurance, grow capillaries that carry blood to your muscles, and also strengthen bones and ligaments.
Wear your sunscreen.
If you complete long, outdoor runs, it’s important to wear your sunscreen every day. Studies have found that outdoor runners are exposed to more risk factors than other types of athletes. Be sure to get wear a a sunblock that is high in SPF, and which is sweat or water resistant. Oh, and getting regular checks for moles and spots is also a good idea if you spend a lot of time outside.
Whether you feel it or not, you wake up depleted of energy since the last meal you had was probably well over eight hours ago, and your body can only store glycogen (which is used for energy) for about six or seven hours.
Your morning meal gives you the opportunity to replenish your energy levels. Plus, studies have proven that those who eat breakfast daily weigh less. At first you may need to start small and just eat fruit or Greek yogurt as your morning meal. However, once your stomach adjusts, aim for a breakfast that consists of half produce, a quarter of whole grains, and a quarter of lean meat or legumes.
Even avid runners have a day job. The average person spends about 10 hours sitting, and, needless to say, this is terrible for your health. However, what most people don’t realize, it’s also putting you at a higher chance of risk of injury during your runs. While you are sitting, your posture slumps, and your hamstrings and hip flexors tighten, all of which can lead to injury.
If you have a desk job, be sure to take breaks to get up, walk, and do some slight stretches. If you need a reminder or motivator, be sure to wear an activity monitor that will tell you if you have been sedentary for too long.