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How to Run

Six Parts:Running HelpRunning ProperlySprinting (Interval Training)Running Long DistancesMaking Running a Lifelong HabitRunning Tips and Tricks

Running is a great way to stay in shape and have fun -- in fact, it's practically becoming trendy. However, it's important to do it with the proper technique. Want to join the masses, but do it the right way? Learn how to stay strong and prevent injury with this guide.

Part 1
Running Properly

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    Establish a base level of fitness. If you're starting from zero, shooting out the front door and onto your first 10k will leave you frustrated, angry, and so sore you never do it again. In other words, don't bite off more than you can chew. If you start running with no prior exercise habits, you'll probably end up hurting yourself and quitting before you ever really started.
    • The simplest thing to do would be to start walking. But it can be anything -- as long as you're getting physically active on a regular basis, your body will be able to handle the impending pavement pounding. Go hiking, swimming, or dancing. If it's fun, all the better!
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    Get a good pair of running shoes. Research says that barefoot running leads to far fewer injuries than running in running shoes, even the fanciest ones.[1] However, you're probably not going to be running barefoot anywhere, unless it's after chasing a kid or a meatball that rolled away unexpectedly. So look for a shoe that can simulate running barefoot. If you're willing to rock those toe shoes (Vibrams), more power to you, but there are many minimalist running shoes that do not have toe sleeves.
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    Warm up. The last thing you want are shin splints, a pulled hamstring, or some other injury that can be avoided. Take five or ten minutes before your run to warm up. However, this does not mean stretching. In fact, stretching beforehand can hurt you![2]
    • Instead, warm up your muscles by doing deadlifts, donkey kicks, lunges, and other similar exercises that stretch your muscles, but also get them working. Save the stretching for after the run.
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    Keep a relaxed stance. Make sure your body is fluid and relaxed, but not hunched over. Try to keep your shoulders and arms loose while keeping your back straight.
    • Keep your head and neck relaxed, too. Holding tension there extends down through your spine and the rest of your body, which can actually tire you out well before you would be otherwise.[3]
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    Breathe steadily and deeply. What matters most is that you breathe with a rhythm that provides a consistent supply of oxygen to your body. Instead of being a chest-breather, be a belly-breather. Make a conscious effort to fill up your stomach, using your diaphragm. You'll get more oxygen and your muscles (heart included) will be less tired.[4]
    • Don't worry about whether you are breathing through the nose or the mouth. Some runners find that breathing through their mouth gets them the most oxygen, while others find that breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth works best. Find whatever seems efficient to you.[5]
    • If you're running at a medium pace, you should be able to carry on a simple conversation with a running partner without much difficulty. If you cannot, you are running too fast to go very far in most cases.
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    Look ahead. Keep your head in a neutral position, not looking up or down. Look approximately 35 feet in front of you if you're running a distance of more than 400 meters.[3] If you're on a treadmill, try not to look down at your feet or the controls too much; it puts tension on your back.[6]
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    Know how to move your arms. Keep your elbows at around a 90 degree angle, close to your body. Use a 110 degree angle for long-distance (except when you are working up a hill). Swing each arm forward and backward in time with the opposite leg; this provides momentum and prevents your body from twisting.
    • The motion should come from the elbows, not your forearms. Be sure you are not swaying your arms diagonally in front of you. You want your arms to be going straight down and back up.
    • Do not tense your fists. Imagine that you have two fragile items in each of your hands and if you tense too hard, you will break them.
    • Don't let your hands cross the midline of your torso, or you'll create a twisting motion.[7]
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    Keep your hips forward. Act like you've got a rope tied across your waist and someone is pulling you gently forward with it. Avoid side-to-side movement or twisting.
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    Increase your cadence. Aim to hit the ground about 185 times per minute. The simplest way to do this is to minimize the time your feet are on the ground. Whether you're in a light jog or running from a crowd it is up to you -- just don't go so hard you hurt yourself!
    • Do what's comfortable. If you can't run an 8-minute mile, don't be hard yourself. It'll come with time. The fact that you're out there and running is great! Simply aim to improve a little bit every time you pound the pavement.
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    Control how you land on your feet. Have your feet land under you as you run.[1] Try mimicking it when you go for your real runs at the gym or on the trail.
    • If you're sprinting, you want to stay on your toes as much as is humanly possible. The more you barely touch the ground, the more you'll practically be flying. However, even if you're running long distances, it's best to stay off your heels. When you land with the back of your foot, the angle you create from foot to calf (you're forming an unnatural "V" shape) can lead to injury.
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    Cool down and stretch. Before ending your workout, slowly taper your run down to a jog, and your jog down to a walk, over the course of about 5 minutes. This allows your circulation and breathing to normalize after your run, minimizing the work your heart has to do.
    • Now it's time for stretching. Concentrate on your calves, glutes, and hamstrings since those are the ones that worked the hardest. It's incredibly important to stretch after running because during, the muscles have a tendency to tighten up. Stretching them out relaxes them and returns them to normal. How you need them tomorrow!

Part 2
Sprinting (Interval Training)

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    Warm up. If you're running around a track, do one lap at a walk and another at a jog. You're sort of easing your mind and body into the oncoming sprints.
    • Just like in the previous section, don't stretch now -- stretch later. Warm up your core muscles and your legs not by stretching but with core exercises like lunges and deadlifts.
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    Run all out. The length of your sprint is up to you -- do you want to do it by distance or time? If you're aiming for interval training (which is a great idea), keep it to about 30 seconds.
    • Interval training seems to be where it's at. If you're looking for a quick way to blast away calories with the strength of a zillion lightsabers or if you're just low on time, this is the workout for you. All you do is run SUPER FAST for about 30 seconds, slow down for a minute, and repeat. Continue the cycle for about 15 minutes, adjusting as you need to.[8] And then ta da! Finished. Lunch break over.
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    Run faster by using your entire body. There are two ways here to run faster: using your core and using your arms. You can use your own body to your advantage when it comes to getting that faster time.
    • You'll find that leaning a bit forward propels your body to run faster to balance your weight. This is helpful when running uphill, but can lead to injury otherwise. Take this piece of advice with a grain of salt.[9]
    • In addition to placing your core forward, use your arms for momentum. Keep them in a straight line, mirroring the movement of your legs. Keep them loose and not hunched up to your shoulders -- ow.[9]
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    Slow down. After your sprints, cool down for a moment and walk. This allows you to normalize your oxygen levels again and prepare for the next sprint.
    • If you experience pain, stop. It's your body telling you it should not be doing what you're making it do. It's better to stop now to be okay later than to not stop now and not be okay later.
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    Sip water. If you need water between sprints, take small sips. Don't guzzle or gulp, even if it's tempting; consuming too much water in the middle of a run can lead to cramps.
    • That being said, it's very important to stay hydrated. If you're not, you may experience dizziness or even fainting. If you don't drink water during your run, make sure to drink it before and after.
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    Cool down and stretch out. Gently work your muscles after your sprints to reduce cramping and shin splints. Do light versions of the exercises you did to warm up in addition to stretching.
    • Walk around the area or for another minute or so on the treadmill. Your heart works to speed your body up and slow it down, so going from 60 to 0 is just as hard on it as going 0 to 60. You're probably running to be healthy, so it's best to do it right!

Part 3
Running Long Distances

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    Get the right fit for your shoes. Make sure your running shoes fit your feet as close as they can without being too tight. You don't want to be distracted by blisters in the middle of your run. The longer you run, the better your shoes need to be.
    • If you run every day, your shoes will only last 4-6 months. If your feet all of a sudden begin hurting, it's high time to get a new pair.
    • There are shoe stores that can design shoes for your feet. If you can afford it, consider getting shoes that match your arch and shape.
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    Load up on carbs. If you're going for a 10k or more, it's wise to load up on carbs a day or two before. But you've got to do it right! You don't want too much fiber, protein, or fat. And it needs to be easily digestible to avoid risk of nausea during the race!
    • Tortillas, oatmeal, bread, pancakes, waffles, bagels, yogurt, and juice are all good, high-carb, easy-to-digest options. Fruit has carbs, too, but many are high-fiber, so peel the skin beforehand.[10] Don't feel guilty -- you'll definitely burn the calories later.
    • A phenomenon many serious runners have made a habit of is pounding energy goo (or Gu, if you want to go brand-name). It's basically sugar and carbs in goo form, though you can get some that's chewable. It replenishes your glucose levels and will give you a burst about 20 minutes after consuming it. Many swear by it![11]
      • Try out the goo while you're still training. You don't want stomach troubles during a long race!
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    Warm up. Run at a conversational pace or a little slower for 10 minutes and a quicker pace for 5. Then follow it with drills. (High knees, Butt kicks, skipping) This will get your circulation going without expending too much energy prematurely. It's all about getting primed and having your heart rate begin to rise.
    • Do some core exercises, too. Regardless of whether you're sprinting or running long distances, the importance of warming up remains the same.
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    Pace yourself. At the beginning of a long run, you'll be ready and raring to go. You'll start off like a bat out of hell...and then tire really quickly. Instead of running all out (like you would in a sprint), run at a pace you can keep steady. You'll last much, much longer.
    • You probably know what you're capable of. As long as you're training, if you find yourself slowly getting capable of more and more, you're doing it right. Each person has their own level of expectation and improvement. Know what yours is and aim for it.
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    Do not give up when you're tired. When you're tired, try focusing on another goal, such as another half mile, or think of something to treat yourself with once you finish.
    • For beginning runners, a common goal is running for around 10 minute mile pace. If time is a factor you're considering, try timing your miles or kilometers and aiming for a specific, timed goal.
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    Stay hydrated. It's of utmost importance that you stay hydrated during a long run. If it is longer than 50 minutes on a hot day, have a water stop. However, if you take water with you on your run, only drink small sips. Guzzling water in the middle of a run will lead to cramps. And it may make you need to pee!
    • Keep your water cold, if you can. The colder it is, the faster it will get absorbed into your system.[12] Since you're sweating so much, staying hydrated is key!
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    Cool down. At the end of your run, downshift to a jog, then a walk. Your heart rate should be close to resting speed by the time you stop. Stopping like you hit a brick wall will put your heart and muscles on high alert, jarring them. That's the kind of activity that leads to injury! Do not let this become a part of the workout however. If you are on a 30 minute run, do a 30 minute run, and then, and only then, the cool down.
    • And the next time you go running, aim for a bit longer or a bit faster!

Part 4
Making Running a Lifelong Habit

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    Clean up your diet. Technically, to run, you could eat whatever the heck you like. However, it's gonna be a lot easier to run and feel good during and after if you're loading up on healthy stuff beforehand. A good way to think about it would be to eat like a caveman -- going as au natural as possible.
    • If it's processed, do your best to avoid it. Fruits and veggies should make up a large portion of your diet, with some lean meat, low-fat dairy, and whole grains thrown in.[13] If you want to see changes in your body, this step is a must-do.
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    If your goal is to lose weight, start strength training. Straight up, running doesn't do wonders for toning your body, at least your upper body. It's a great way to lose weight and burn fat -- but unfortunately, it can burn muscle, too. If you just run, you may end up with that "skinny-fat" look.[14]
    • It doesn't have to be much and it doesn't have to be in the gym. Simply doing core workouts (like planks, etc.) can tone your upper bits. Stick to a couple times a week -- your muscles need time to heal themselves after getting ripped, torn, and creating new fibers.
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    Scope out a trail. Getting started running is a lot about not getting discouraged too soon. If you think it's too difficult or not enjoyable enough, you won't stick with it. If you're hitting the gym, find a gym that's convenient to get to and that has nice equipment. TV, anyone?
    • If you're running outside, consider terrain, scenery, and level. Are you running on dirt, gravel, or blacktop? Is it pretty enough to keep you relaxed and in the zone? Is there plenty of flat terrain, or is it uphill or downhill?
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    Get gear. All you really need to run is a good pair of shoes. If the budget doesn't allow for the fancy, technical gear, don't sweat it. You don't need any. Women should have a decent sports bra, but that's about it. CoolMax or Dri-Fit are two brands of synthetic fabrics that keep the moisture (read: sweat) off your skin if you're interested, but you can run just as well as long as you're comfortable.
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    Join a club. Odds are your area has a running, triathlon, or marathon club you can join. Being surrounding by like-minded people will only fill you with more gusto -- and it'll keep you on track when you're feeling less than motivated. Need a buddy to run a race with? Problem solved.
    • Don't know where to find one? Try your local running shoe shop. It's probably a smaller network of serious runners than you realize! Soon you'll be on a first name basis.
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    Sign up for a race. Now that you're a runner, might as well do some good with your new hobby! There are millions of 5 and 10ks out there to support good causes. With two minutes of research, you're bound to find one in your area!

Running Tips and Tricks


  • If you want to build endurance, don't walk, but instead jog at a walking speed.
  • Be sure to drink your liquids 10-20 minutes before your race. This will help you avoid cramps.
  • Change up your running routine or just simply where you run. If you don't, over time you'll get bored, which eventually causes you to lack energy and passion for running.
  • If you get a cramp, walk it off. Raise your hands above your head and breathe. It is important to stretch the muscle. Cramps result from many different factors (such as fatigue), but are a direct result of the muscle being overstimulated and over-contracting. Stretching the muscle will promote relaxation and help to alleviate the pain. Rubbing and massaging the muscle will also help. Promoting circulation to the area, as fresh blood will help control the imbalance that is leading to the cramp.
  • For distance, don't start off really fast; you'll lose too much energy and wear out quickly.
  • Have fun! Running should be an enjoyable sport for you if you run often. If not, try some other sports and see what you like.
  • If possible run on soft surfaces; running on roads and streets affects your knees negatively if you run on a daily basis.
  • Talk to your doctor before undergoing any serious running plan if you're body isn't used to it.
  • In the event of sore muscles, use the R.I.C.E. technique (rest, ice, compression, elevation). If you don't feel like sitting doing nothing with an ice pack, try turning the shower on cold and pointing the shower head at the sore muscle for a minute or so after your workout.
  • Focus on breathing. Try and establish a breathing pattern, for example, inhale 3 steps, exhale 2. Try to avoid an even pattern such as inhaling 2 steps and exhaling 2 steps as this will cause you to always land on the same foot when starting to exhale, causing more shock on that side of the body, which will lead to pain on that side of your body.
  • If on a surface such as sand, try running barefoot. It will help strengthen your feet.
  • When running up hills, lean into the hill. Take short strides, pump your arms more than usual, and bring your knees up.


  • Do not drink energy drinks, coffee, or other stimulating drinks before a run. Even tea isn't a good idea. Caffeine dehydrates you, and increases your chances of cardiac arrest/heatstroke. Don't push too hard; you could hurt yourself.
  • Do not keep the same sneakers for more than 3-4 months if you're running constantly. This makes you more prone to injury, since the material on sneakers slowly wears down the more you wear them.
  • Always stretch before running, especially if you're sprinting.

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