We’re all for a challenging jog, but there’s a difference between your run feeling like you’re pushing yourself and total torture. Those awful runs are what make you want to hang up your sneakers for good and crash on the sofa. Unfortunately, bad workouts are bound to happen every once in a while, and it’s important to acknowledge that—but you can make your workout feel way less awful with these great running tips.
1. Make Hydration a Priority.
Not that you need anymore more reminders to drink more water (it comes out of almost every celebs mouth), but quenching your thirst is key for a good run. “Hydration needs should be considered long before heading out for a run,” says Debora Warner, certified running coach and the founder of Mile High Run Club, a boutique running studio and training center in New York City. “Runners who hit the road daily need to make sure they are replacing lost fluids during, after, and before the runs.” Water may be what your body needs in its purest form, but it’s not the only thing you can drink to get hydrated. That’s half of the concept of sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. Warner suggests a pre-run drink that contains electrolytes and caffeine.
2. Eat Protein Post-Run.
Nothing destroys a stride quite like a jabbing cramp in your side. And a lot of those pains can be avoided by planning out your meals properly, but you don’t want to skip snacks entirely—you’ll just feel fatigued. Warner suggests eating protein after runs because they tend to be harder to digest, thus ensuring you’ll be cramp-free.
3. Plan Out Pre-Run Snacks.
For a boost of energy before your run, she recommends eating a banana or a light carb snack about 30 minutes prior to hitting the road. And while Warner says it depends on what’s on your plate, waiting 2 full hours after eating a large meal is ideal.
4. Take Rest Seriously.
Taking breaks can actually help you become a better runner, and according to Warner, will give your muscles the time they need to rebuild and repair themselves. “The body can adapt to higher workloads and greater frequency as long as it is allowed a proper amount of time to recover,” says Warner. That means don’t feel guilty about giving yourself a workout rest day. So when should you take it? It depends on your routine. “Hard days can be followed by a light day of active recovery,” she says. “Athletes who are attuned to their body know when to ease up and supplement other activities for running such as swimming or hiking.”
5. Sleep. Trust Us.
We can tell you first hand that not enough shut-eye equals one exhausting run. Don’t expect to go out there and run your 10K on only a few hours of sleep. Take the resting suggestion quite literally and establish a regular bedtime.
6. Make Sure Your Sneakers Are Effective
There are countless sneaker styles on the market for almost every single need—lightweight, supportive, those made for trail running, distance, sprints, and much more. Regardless of your need, be sure that your sneakers are in good shape—running with shoes that have already logged all the mileage they can handle is a prime way to end up feeling awful. “Sneakers should be replaced as soon as they start feeling ‘flat,'” says Warner. While she says you can track them based on miles, you can also use the “energy return” method. To do this, Warner says to pay attention to the support you’re getting and compare by incorporating new sneakers in rotation.
7. Dress Appropriately.
Of course your run is going to feel terrible if you’re constantly pulling up your leggings or worse, feel like you can’t move because you’re too restricted. You also don’t want to be too hot or too cold. We’ve journeyed out for many a run and felt totally clothing-conscious the entire time—which is not what you want. Lightweight, water-repellent fabrics are best, but to find exactly what works for you, hit up your local running store and talk to a professional about where and how you run and your annoyances with your current gear.
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