If you find running extremely tiring and challenging, here’s why.
Running is a great way to break a sweat and get your body moving. Plus, all you’ve got to do is put on a pair of running shoes and head out. While running may zap lots of energy, there are some things you can avoid doing to ease the fatigue. Here are 10 common mistakes that are making running more tiring than it actually is.
1. Wearing worn-out shoes
Proper footwear is something many of us take for granted. One of the most common mistakes is failing to realise that shoes will wear out based on how much you run in them, and not just how long you’ve owned them. Having said that, your build and the type of exercises you engage in matter too. The loss of cushioning plus wear and tear of the soles can make running more tedious or worse, lead to injuries. According to Dr Ben Tan, author of Run for Your Life!: the Complete Marathon Guide, you should change your shoes when they have covered around 800km, or every six to 12 months. Time to replace your shoes? Check out our favourite running shoes of 2018.
2. Starting off too quickly
Pacing yourself is important, especially when it comes to long-distance running. It is tempting to go fast at the start of your run when your legs are fresh. But by doing so, you will burn out quickly and find that you barely have the energy to complete your last few kilometres. Start your run at a slow and comfortable pace before picking up speed. You may need a couple of sessions to find the pace that suits you best.
3. Adopting the wrong running form
Pay attention to the way you swing your arms. They should be around waist level and bent at 90 degrees. Swing your arms back and forth rather than side to side, while keeping your posture upright. It may be tempting to slouch when fatigue sets in, but that only will lead to tension in your neck, shoulders and back, making it even more tiring to run.
4. Losing control when you go downhill
Taking a breather at the downslope? It could be bad news for your knees and joints. People often have the tendency to lean forward too much and overstride when they are going downhill. The impact from overstriding places tremendous stress on your knees, hips and ankles. Try leaning forward just slightly and taking short, quick strides, keeping your pace as constant as possible.
5. Wearing the wrong clothes
Get comfortable in your running outfit by dressing for the weather. For Singapore’s temperature, choose lightweight and stretchable materials that are designed to wick moisture away from your body. A regular cotton tee will trap heat and sweat, which makes you feel uncomfortable. And when it comes to sports bras, 80 per cent of women are wearing the wrong size, says Dr Tan. As sizing varies across brands, it’s best to try on one size up and down your regular sizing, to be sure. The rule of thumb: You should be able to slide two fingers under each strap and one finger under the base band on each side. Ensure that the bra isn’t wrinkled anywhere or cutting into your skin. Hop around on the spot to ensure you feel supported – the bra shouldn’t be riding up or twisting around.
6. Skipping rest days
More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to running. If you’ve signed up for multiple races and make yourself train every day, it may zap all your energy and impede your progress. You may also find your interest in running start to wane. Suddenly, running becomes a chore. Your body requires ample rest to perform better. Give it time to recover to prevent common overuse running injuries like shin splints. A general guideline for beginners is to start running thrice a week. More seasoned runners can run five to six times a week. On non-running days, consider doing low-impact cross-training exercises such as swimming or cycling. Or hit the gym for some resistance training and core strengthening.
7. Eating too little or too much
What you eat before and after your run can have a huge impact on your performance and recovery. You need fuel to keep your legs moving, so it’s not a good idea to run on an empty stomach. But running before your food has completely digested may cause you to feel sluggish. It’s best to have a balanced meal containing carbs, protein and healthy fats three to four hours before a run. A quick recovery snack post-run is also important to replenish your energy levels and facilitate muscle repair and recovery. Here are the best snacks to eat after your workout.
8. Sitting down right after running
Don’t forget to cool down properly after your run. You can also engage in foam rolling exercises to ease the tension in your muscles for quicker recovery. Many of us have the tendency to plonk ourselves down on a chair after a long run. This will cause your muscles to stiffen, and you may find your legs aching for days after, hindering your performance at the next run. Here are 12 best cool-down exercises to do after your workout to prevent tight muscles and speed up recovery.
9. Listening to an ineffective playlist
Yes, your choice of music matters when it comes to your runs. A study by the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences suggests that music with motivational qualities can improve physical and psychological performance by 15 per cent. Music is also able to reduce your perception of fatigue to stimulate better performance. So if you find that your tunes aren’t spurring you on during your runs, it’s time to find a new playlist. Not sure where to start? These 33 best running songs will psych you up.
10. Failing to switch things up
Running can be extremely tiring if you are not enjoying yourself. Running 10km every day is sure to get dull over time. Alternate between different types of runs like slow, recovery runs and fartleks to ensure your training is varied (and stays exciting). Another great way to make running less dreary is to find new trails to explore. You can even ask a buddy along! Running will feel much more effortless when you are having a good time. Check out some of the most scenic running routes in Singapore that will make running a breeze.