Running has a mystical power to elevate your mood and increase your stamina. Although it physically drains you, an intense running session rejuvenates your soul like nothing else!
Whether an experienced runner or a seasoned veteran, you should create a solid plan to ensure that you reap maximum rewards from your routine. The idea of following running rules may take you by surprise as this activity is supposed to be liberating and should lighten up your mood.
That said, it is always wise to review some tried-and-tested running tips to steer clear of any mistakes that could take a toll on your physical or mental strength. Adhering to these guidelines will also help you to have a happy and successful relationship with the tracks.
Read on to discover the running rules that are highly helpful and proven to improve overall outcomes!
What Are the Rules of Running?
Rule # 1 – Keep It Slow and Short Initially
Running on a track isn’t a joke. It may exhaust you and force you to quit if you don’t curate a proper running strategy. In fact, most running injuries are caused when the runners are overly ambitious and try to run faster than their capacity (1).
Even those who took a running break and decided to hit the course again should take it slow and steady. Don’t compare your efforts with your past performance, nor be tempted to speed up to finish faster. Instead, add five to ten minutes of running to your weekly plans and slightly back off in the fourth week so your musculoskeletal system can adapt.
Rule # 2 – Consume a Healthy Diet
Running doesn’t give you a free license to eat whatever you want. People tend to reward themselves by consuming fast food or a heavy meal after they have covered their course. And while it is okay to satisfy your cravings, try not to go overboard.
Plan your post-run snacks and keep an eye on all the calories you intake. Ensure that you emphasize a healthy diet that includes whole grains, vegetables, healthy fats, and fruits.
Read More: Hill Running Workout: Head Towards The Rocks To Ace The Race
Rule # 3 – Listen to Your Body
Your body may give you signs to take it slow or fast. It is crucial to understand these signals to ensure you are consistent with your running program and make the most out of it.
The runs you do each day may be different from the others. Some days you feel tired, sluggish, hungry, or have a tough day at work. If something doesn’t feel in the right place, cut the runs short and call it a day. You should consult a healthcare professional if the symptoms persist.
On other days, you may feel happy and highly motivated to shed extra pounds. Likewise, external conditions like weather, gradient, and underfoot conditions may vary daily. Adapt to these conditions, and don’t pressurize your body to exert efforts beyond its capacity.
Rule # 4 – Get Plenty of Sleep
A restful night’s sleep is the best fuel you can give your body, and one of the main running rules. Unfortunately, many prefer to cut their sleeping hours due to their back-to-back commitments.
Experts recommend getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night. Runners must sleep adequately to allow their bodies to recover from the pressure exerted upon them. Also, there is no harm in taking a nap after running if your body asks for it.
Rule # 5 – Morning is the Best Time to Run
Morning runs are often categorized as the best ones. It is when scenic beauty can refresh your soul, and very few people are around.
Running before work gives you much-needed time to reflect on your thoughts. It also brings you the satisfaction that you have checked your workout goals for the day.
Leaving your comfortable bed early in the morning may seem impossible for some people. However, its benefits may encourage you to develop a consistent morning run routine. Some perks of running in the morning are:
May Help You to Manage Your Weight
Morning runs are incredible for burning calories because you have fasted for 6 – 8 hours straight. Our bodies use more fat as energy when the carb stores are low.
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Improves Productivity Throughout the Day
Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel optimistic, satisfied, and ready to kickstart your day. Runners are likely to perform better at executive functions two hours after they have completed their routines. They experience improved verbal fluency, decision-making, problem-solving, and inhibitory control. This creates a positive impact on their performance (2).
To summarize, morning is a time of great potential and opportunities. Most marathon runners prefer practicing in the morning because the fresh air rejuvenates your soul, and they can practice well.
Rule # 6 – Hydrate Your Runs
Dehydration during running could lead to fatigue, headaches, nausea, decreased coordination, and muscle cramps (3). It may slow you down and decrease your overall performance (4).
Here are some hydration rules to follow when you are running:
- Take 4 – 6 ounces of fluid after every 20 minutes
- When running faster than 8-minute miles, a runner should intake 6 – 8 ounces every 20 minutes
- When you are on a longer workout, you should include a sports drink in your fluids to make up for the lost sodium and minerals
Whether you are following a long-distance running program or a shorter track, it doesn’t matter. You should follow the cues given by your body. If you feel drained and thirsty, stop and drink so you can beat the fatigue and speed up once again.
Rule # 7 – Modify Your Runs Regularly
Running the same route at the same pace could become monotonous. Some days you may feel the urge to skip the run because you are bored. A better approach would be to challenge yourself differently by varying your runs.
You can either change the pace, terrain, elevation, or speed. Varying your runs may help to build speed, endurance, and strength (5). Simultaneously, you can add different workouts to your runs, such as running on a hilly course or integrating a speed workout into your routine to make it enjoyable.
Read More: Breathing Techniques For Running: Make Your Runs More Fun!
Rule # 8 – Allow Your Body to Rest
Resting is a prerequisite of every kind of workout. Whether participating in a men’s marathon or running as a hobby, you should create a schedule that includes a significant rest period.
During your rest days, your body can heal as it transitions into recovery mode. This also gives you a mental break from everyday chaos when you can conveniently switch off the part of your brain which instructs you to train or you might lose.
A day when you can pamper yourself or lie down cozily on your couch will make wonders happen. Most trainers categorize it as one of the primary rules of running.
The human nervous system has two central states (6):
- Sympathetic (fight or flight)
- Parasympathetic (rest and recovery)
Our minds and bodies are constantly analyzing our environment for potential threats. They act in either of these states after perceiving the surroundings.
Rule # 9 – Compete Against Yourself!
The experience of every runner is different from others. Some people may find extreme joy while they are on track, whereas others cannot keep up with the pressure and need encouragement to keep going.
It is essential to compete against yourself. You should study your past runs and set a benchmark for yourself. Don’t imitate what others are doing. For example, things other runners can do on the road may be beyond your capacity. Instead of talking yourself down the guilt trip, find out how you can improve your pace and distance. Create goals that make sense for you and figure out a way to reach those goals.
Rule # 10 – Sprint to Improve Your Runs
If you keep sprinting out of your equation, you end up losing many benefits they bring for you. Sprinting is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that can significantly influence your runs.
You must run hard for between 20 seconds and 2 minutes when sprinting. This will help you in the following ways:
- It may improve your running economy
- It may improve heart health (7)
- It may develop muscular strength in the legs and core (8)
Many runners skip interval training because it doesn’t impact their speed. Yet, it is proven that sprinting has many benefits for runners and improves their muscular endurance to keep going for longer races.
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How to Determine the Right Running Shoes?
We tend to purchase shoes that are on sale or look cool. If you are serious about running and plan to include running in your regular workout, you should pay specific attention when shopping for shoes.
Here are the critical decision points to help you find a shoe that fits well and feels good:
- Consider where you plan to run – Do you intend to run in a stadium or on a hilly range nearby? The terrain choice will help you determine the kind of soles you need for yourself.
- Decide if you want more or less cushion underfoot – Cushioning (the thickness of material under midsole and foam firmness) and heel drop are the factors to consider when buying running shoes.
- Understand which shoe you need to support your gait – If your foot is prone to roll inside or outside, you should look for a specific shape to support it in its place.
- Ensure that the shoe fits – Your shoe should fit well from day one and get more comfortable with each passing day.
Generally, a pair of running shoes may last between 400 to 500 miles of running, which takes around 3 to 4 months for regular runners. Once you are through this period, check the mid- and outer soles to determine if they are worn out. If they are, it is time to shop for a new pair.
The Bottom Line
Running is one of the best things you can do for your body. You don’t need a membership to a fancy gym. Simply go to a park or a stadium nearby and run a specific course daily. A consistent running pattern will bring incredible rewards for your physical and mental health.
Follow the running rules discussed above, and you will be surprised by the outcomes. Also, seek medical consultation if you have a history of injuries or can’t figure out your best running pattern. Go easy on yourself on days when you feel lethargic or sick. Ensure you consume a healthy diet alongside to get optimal results.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Running injuries. A review of the epidemiological literature (1992, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sports-Related Dehydration (2022, peacehealth.org)
- Influence of Hydration on Physiological Function and Performance During Trail Running in the Heat (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The effects of training with high‐speed interval running on muscle performance are modulated by slope (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Subdivisions of the Central Nervous System (n.d., ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Brief, Intense Exercise Can Benefit The Heart, Study Shows (2010, sciencedaily.com)
- Relationship between muscular strength and sprints with changes of direction (2012, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)