If you’re at a desk all day, these stretches for runners will keep the blood flowing

For people who love to be active, a desk job can be disadvantageous. Not only does it limit your active time, but also creates muscle stiffness and lethargy. Runners, in particular, need to be agile and swift. Although you would warm-up before a run, long hours of sitting can still result in chronic stiffness and affect your form. All you need is a few minutes away from the computer every few hours. These 4 stretches for runners can help reduce muscle stiffness if you are sitting all day. 

Pro tip: if you have a foam roller use it correctly and avoid these mistakes.

Knee hug

This is one of the easiest and most satisfying stretches for most people. Lie down on your back. Make sure the surface you are lying on is firm. Bend both your knees and grab them with your hands. Gently pull your knees closer to your chest. With your back flat on the ground and your knees close to your chest, hold this position for about 30 secs. Then slowly lower your legs back to the ground.

You can repeat this stretch a few times. It doesn’t require too much effort and is easy on your muscles. This is a great stretch for the lower back and helps release the tension from these muscles. Pro tip: stretching is also a great way to speed up the recovery process after your long run.

Forward fold hamstring stretch

Hamstrings are one of the biggest muscles in the legs. They play a crucial role in supporting your body during runs and workouts. To stretch your hamstrings, you don’t really need to leave your desk. While sitting on your chair, put your leg straight out with your heel placed on something elevated. Keep your foot flexed. It could be a box, a shelf under your desk, or a footstool. Place the other foot firmly on the ground. Sit up straight and slowly bend forward hinging at the hips. Keep your abdomen tucked in, pulling your navel towards your spine.

To move it up a notch, you can try and reach the toes of your extended leg and hold for 20 – 30 seconds. Repeat the same on the other side.

Seated pigeon stretch

The pigeon stretch is great for opening up your hip flexors. Here’s a modified seated pigeon stretch for runners who sit at their desk for the majority of the day. Sit straight on your chair and place your right ankle over your left knee. Flex the right foot. You should feel a stretch in your outer right hip. To intensify the stretch, hinge at the hips and try to fold over the right leg.

Hold for 20 -30 seconds and then repeat on the left side.

Seated twist

This is another very satisfying stretch for the back. You can do this on the floor or even on your chair. If you are on the floor, sit up straight and extend your left leg forward. Cross the right foot over the left leg and place it next to your outer thigh. Hug the right knee with your left arm and place your right hand on the floor behind your back. Slowly twist to the right and look over your right shoulder.

Hold for 20 – 30 seconds. Slowly come back to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Most importantly, move around

Moving around is a great addition to these stretches for runners who sit for the majority of the day. Get up from your chair every few hours and walk around. Prolonged sitting can not only affect your running but leave long term impacts on your overall health. Make sure you take time to get up and move around no matter how busy your day is. These stretches for runners are a great addition to these 8 ways to prevent shin splints!

12 tips that could make running easier

Would you like to improve running? Are factors like motivation, stamina, and ability holding you back? Did you know jogging or running on a regular basis can reduce your chances of acquiring diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes? If you’re a nervous beginner, here are some helpful tips that can make running easier for you. Make sure you have these 7 essential items you need before training begins.

Pro tip: when you start adding long runs to your training, follow our long-run recovery timeline!

  1. Start with walking.

Before you break out into a run, start with a walk. It will warm up your muscles, joints, and bones and serve as the starting point for your run. Make it a habit to walk for the first five minutes before your run. This will help you get accustomed to running.

  1. Pair running with an activity you enjoy.

If you have a hard time leaving the house for a run, pair running with an activity you like doing such as listening to a podcast or your favorite playlist. While engaging in your activity, start your run. Keep yourself occupied with the activity throughout your run. This will help you enjoy your new-found workout.

  1. Set small distance goals.

If the run time feels daunting, set small distance goals. For example, you can do a 1K run or a jog around the park to start. Set small challenges that are achievable so that you will feel determined to continue.

  1. Enlist a running partner.

Even though some people prefer to run alone, you can opt for a running buddy. It will help if this person enjoys running. Running with a friend can make this exercise a pleasurable experience.

  1. Keep track of your progress.

Keep a record of how much and how long you run. At periodic intervals, go over your record. You will be able to see a steady improvement in your time and distance. This will inspire you more to run.

  1. Listen to your favorite tunes.

Music is a great exercise accompaniment. Make a compilation of energetic tunes or listen to ours. On your next run, put on your ear pods and listen to this list. The music will stimulate you to adjust your speed and pace. You’re also more likely to enjoy the run.

  1. Invest in good shoes.

Your footwear matters when you run. Avoid the temptation of buying cheap shoes. They can seriously damage your feet, joints, and back. Spend the extra money on a pair of good runners. Pro tip: follow our advice to pick out the right running shoes.

  1. Progress gradually.

Avoid progressing in your training too quickly. This can rapidly demotivate you and even injure your body. Follow your training plan and take advantage of your rest days. This tip is applicable for a beginner, novice, and a pro.

  1. Reward yourself.

Hard work deserves to be rewarded. Each time you complete a goal, treat yourself.

  1. Join a runner’s group/forum.

What better way to encourage yourself than to talk to other runners. They can provide valuable tips and suggestions to improve running.

  1. Positive self-talk.

Your mind is your biggest obstacle when it comes to running. In fact, you’ll find it easier to come up with reasons not to run versus pushing yourself to get out the door. This is where you have to repeat positive affirmations like:

“I’ve got this!”

“I can do this.”

“One run at a time.”

“I’m one step closer.”

  1. Follow a training plan.

This is especially helpful if you’re a beginner. There are 30-day beginner programs that will help you build your endurance and confidence. Many of them gradually progress from walking to running.

Running isn’t about losing weight or getting fit. It’s a lifestyle. The first two weeks may feel like an uphill battle, but if you apply some of these tips, you can make running easier.

These tips can help you increase your speed as a runner

Whether you’re a first-time runner or not, you will eventually want to increase your speed. This is the best way to set new PRs! You’ll have to put in the work though. It takes hard work and dedication to increase your speed. Below are 7 different ways that you can increase your speed and chase those PRs. The more of these tips you integrate, the better. Pro tip: make sure you effectively warm-up before any run or workout.

Interval training

This means exercising with periods of high and low intensity to run faster. Running an interval involves running faster than your everyday pace. The intervals revamp the efficiency of the oxygen delivered to your body. This will help increase your speed and efficiency. Learn more about how interval runs and these 6 other types of runs can help increase your speed.

Interval workout example

  • Jog for three minutes
  • Sprint for one minute
  • Repeat this cycle four more times, resting in between each repeat

Use the treadmill

If you want to run faster, you need to practice. Buy a treadmill and use it as a source for you to keep yourself motivated during bad weather days. Especially if they keep you from going outside for your daily run. The treadmill assists with leg turnover, making it easier to run faster. Push the pace as much or as little as you want. Increase your speed over time to see improvements.

Run hill repeats

This can be challenging, but it’s worth it. Running hills is a form of resistance and running mechanic training. You’ll increase your muscle strength, especially your glutes and calves. The muscles needed to sprint across the finish line! Pro tip: get the right running shoes for you with our helpful insight.

Add strength training

How you increase your speed is not just about running. You need to keep yourself active and functioning. Strength training involves physical exercises that improve strength and endurance. It is associated with the use of weights but can take a variety of different forms, like booty bands. Start with small weights and increase your goal gradually. If you manage to beat your record, you are doing great. 

Try yoga

Yoga has extensive benefits beyond our imagination. Add yoga to your daily or weekly training plan and you won’t be disappointed. A study showed that twice-weekly yoga sessions increase flexibility in your joints and improve the balance of your body. The added stretching could also prevent injuries like shin splints.

Be steady and focused

Things take time, so don’t get off the track. You won’t achieve your big goal overnight. Set up smaller, weekly goals along the way. Take it easy on yourself. Slow and steady may win the race, but fast and steady builds speed! Take challenges and try running faster than the day before.

Eat right

Let’s turn to optimal fueling. We can talk about making sure you have enough to eat before you run and eating enough to recover properly. Just don’t let your sugar cravings overtake your goals! Eating healthy and hydrating properly will help you work harder. 

These are some of the most tried and valued running techniques. You can have your unique ways to help you increase your speed. Do you have any unique ways that have helped you increase your speed or have you tested any of the above out? We would love to hear.

Recover faster with our 6-step long-run recovery timeline

Your 3M Half Marathon training plan will include long runs which will progressively increase over time. They’re the core to building the endurance needed to achieve your goals. Just like any other run or workout, you need to recover and prepare for what’s next. This long-run recovery timeline will help expedite the recovery process, from the moment you stop your watch until you lay down for a well-deserved nap. Follow our advice, build it into your schedule, and make sure you’re ready for whatever is next on your training plan. Wait, before you even start the long-run recovery timeline, make sure you avoid these five simple training mistakes.

Pro tip: adjust the timeline as needed to fit your schedule.

Rehydrate (within 5 minutes)

Runners lose fluids during runs and workouts when sweating. This is the price you pay so your body can stay cool during the run. It’s important to drink at least 16 ounces of an electrolyte-enhanced drink (like Nuun Hydration) when you’re done. Drinking this will begin the rehydration process and restore needed electrolytes and nutrients Pro tip: have a drink ready before you begin that’s specifically for after your run.

Stretch and foam roll (within 5-15 minutes)

You’re pushing your body further and further, reward it with stretching and foam rolling. Whether you’re increasing your distance or lowering your time, you’re asking a lot of your body. Take care of the muscles that take care of you. Stretching and foam rolling allow fresh blood to flow to the muscles. This speeds up recovery and helps prevent lactic acid from settling in. It can also help you avoid the pain from shin splints. Pro tip: check out these other reasons runners love to foam roll.

Eat a snack (within 15-30 minutes)

Grab some fruit, beef jerky, or your favorite GU Energy Chews. Eat something that won’t upset your stomach or dry out your mouth. You need to replace the energy your body consumed during your long training run. Plus, it’ll give you a nice little energy boost. Keep hydrating!

Cool off (within 30-60 minutes)

Take a cold shower or jump in a cold body of water like Barton Springs (stay no more than 15 minutes). The cold water can help your body’s core temperature return to normal and reduce inflammation. If it’s cool outside or slightly windy, take your stretch session outside.

Eat a meal (within 1-2 hours)

Time to eat! By now your snack is wearing off and your stomach is beginning to rumble. Depending on your mileage, your body probably burned thousands of calories. Time to replace them! Grab something to eat, whether it’s a pre-cooked meal, something you prepare, or you go out to a restaurant. 

Nap (within 2+ hours)

The ending to a perfect long run, a nap. You’ve stretched and foam rolled, eaten, hydrated, and showered. It’s time to let your body do some repair work. Find somewhere that’s dark and cool. A 30-60 minute nap is perfect, depending on what you have to do for the rest of the day. It’s not a bad idea to stretch/foam roll one more time and drink some more electrolytes before your nap. 

Some runner’s recovery timeline might differ. You can adjust this to fit your schedule. But the core of this long-run recovery timeline will assist in repairs your body needs. This will help you get ready for whatever is next on your training schedule.

Don’t begin your next run until you learn how to effectively warm-up

Going out on a run can be risky if you haven’t effectively warmed up. Warming up has a crucial role to play in how well your body will perform during your run. If you don’t effectively warm-up, you could feel more tired or your muscles could start to cramp within the first mile of your run. Follow our warm-up routine below and avoid these five training mistakes to keep everything running smoothly.

Benefits of warming up before running

A good warm-up helps the body get ready for a workout. It activates the muscles and helps you run faster and for longer. Without warming up, your muscles will be turned off. This is normal, especially for people who go on runs either in the morning or after work.

A good warm-up routine helps you by:

  • Activating the muscles in your body and prepping them for your run.
  • Improves circulation within the body. This means that oxygen and other important nutrients are being transferred more efficiently.
  • The joints of the body become better prepared to successfully complete the run.
  • The muscles are warmed up. This gives you better stamina and allows you to run longer.
  • Avoid cramps, pain, or running injuries like shin splints.

But just any warm-up routine won’t do. Your routine needs to be tailored to meet your specific requirements and body types. A 37-year-old who enjoys morning runs will have different requirements than a 25-year-old preparing for a marathon. In both cases, however, the right warm-up routine can make all the difference between a successful run and a difficult one.

How to effectively warm-up

As a runner, you’ll want to focus on stretches and exercises for your legs. The legs are the most important part of the body for the runner and you should devote more exercises to activating your leg muscles. For runners, static stretching is a bad idea. When you do your exercises, your body responds by lengthening your muscles. This is due to the stretch reflex. When you warm up, it is to activate this stretch reflex.

When the stretch reflex expands the muscles, the spindles in the muscle send information to the spinal cord. The spinal cord responds by relaying information on shortening the muscles. This relationship between lengthening and shortening muscles is the result of a good warm-up routine.

Static stretching lengthens the muscles even more without the required shortening happening later. This is not ideal for runners when warming up. Instead, dynamic stretching works best for warm-up.

Good warm-up routine

A good warm-up routine will include all the exercises necessary to make your run a success. This is a combination of releases, lunges, squats, and other exercises. If you go on a short half an hour run, a five-minute warm-up can suffice. But longer runs or more complicated routes need better warm-ups. An effective warm-up routine is especially critical to runners returning to the sport after taking time off or recovering from injury.

Here is a 10-minute warm-up routine for a one-hour run. 

  1. Hip flexor release (5 times)
  2. Knee to chest (5 times each leg)
  3. Heel to glutes (5 times each leg)
  4. Washing machine (5 times)
  5. Touch the ground while keeping your legs straight (5 times)
  6. Hip rotation (5 times)
  7. Hamstring raises (5 times each leg)
  8. Inner thigh squats (10 times)
  9. Forward lunge (5 times)
  10. Side-ways lunge (5 times)
  11. Reverse lunges (5times)
  12. Mountain climber (10 times)
  13. Circle the knee (5 times)
  14. Ankle circles (5 times each leg)

You can also include skipping. A good warm-up routine will help you finish your runs with your body feeling great. Prep your body for your runs to get the most out of running. Do you have a specific routine to effectively warm-up? Let us know in the 3M Half Marathon Facebook Group or Twitter!

The perfect running shoes can make all the difference

Ensuring you have the right running shoes for you is vital to your training. The right running shoe can help prevent injuries and ensure that your training remains on track. The wrong shoes could cause discomfort, pain, and injuries that can prevent you from achieving your fitness goals. Find a pair that’s just right for you and they can help prevent one of the more painful injuries, shin splints. Let’s take a look at some factors you should keep in mind while shopping for the perfect running shoes for you.

  1. Find shoes specifically for running

Running shoes should not be confused with sneakers or any other footwear. Most running shoes contain wearable technology that allows you to track your training. They’re also designed to support your foot and provide cushioning while running. Make sure they provide the proper energy response, meaning your shoes should provide a “bounce back” feeling after your foot strikes the ground. If they don’t and your legs feel tired and heavy, that’s an indication you need a new pair. Pro tip: learn the reasons why your running shoes should be used for running only.

  1. Wear shoes to see if they fit 

It’s always better to try shoes on rather than roll the dice and purchase them online. There are several ways to determine the right shoe for you. Since feet tend to swell throughout the day, try shoes in the evening to see if they fit. Your foot should feel comfortable and be centered on the shoe’s platform. Walk around or jog lightly in them and see if movement causes you any discomfort.

  1. Invest in quality shoes 

Female runner during the 2019 3M Half Marathon. She's running towards the finish line in running shoes specifically for running. Use our tips to ensure you pick the right running shoes for you at shoes have premium technology like GPS tracking, lightweight materials, or breathable fabric that provide more value. Improved materials and fabrics can help them last longer and accrue more miles. However, these shoes can be more expensive. A cheaper pair might be an option, but they may not be best suited for logging high mileage. Pro tip: take care of your running shoes and keep them organized with these storage hacks.

  1. Pick what’s right for you

Become familiar with all the different elements before you buy a pair. All parts located above the sole are called the upper. Look for an upper with the same shape as your foot. A strong ankle collar, which wraps the top of the shoe opening and holds your heel down in place, will prevent your heel from slipping. A saddle that fits and holds your foot in a secure way is essential.

  1. Talk to an expert 

Consult with a professional before buying your next running shoes. Our friends at Fleet Feet Austin can use their system to scan your feet and make recommendations on the right running shoes for you. They’ll also factor in your goals, running style, and anticipated mileage. The specialists at Fleet Feet Austin can also provide exercise tips and help you get the most out of your shoes. Schedule an appointment with them, they know a lot!

Use our tips when picking out the right running shoes for you. The last thing you want are uncomfortable shoes that make blisters and create shin splints. Do you have a certain tactic you’ve used to pick the pair that’s right for you? Let us know in the 3M Half Marathon Facebook Group and Twitter.

Taking the next step: how to transition from walking to running

If you’re a casual walker looking to intensify your exercise, you should give running a try. It can burn more calories, strengthen your heart, and lower your cholesterol levels. Running can also reduce stress levels and lead to developing a healthier lifestyle. Most importantly, running nourishes your mind and soul by helping you clear your head and find peace within yourself. But how do you even begin to transition from walking to running? Our advice below will get you on the right path, the path to completing your first half marathon! This is a journey that will take time. Just remember, you’re not alone on your journey! We’re here to help you transition from walking to running. Here’s an excellent playlist for your journey!

Running gear

Your transition from walking to running may not be as difficult as you think. Make sure you have a pair of comfortable running shoes. You can extend the life of your running shoes (and save money) by only running in them. Proper fitting running shoes can also help prevent painful shin splints. Here are 7 more tips to avoid shin splints and keep your transition from walking to running on track! Wear workout gear that allows you to move freely, is lightweight, and wicks sweat. Keep a water bottle nearby to stay hydrated and replenish lost fluids. We’re fans of nuun hydration and their tablets. It’s easy to carry and help replace lost electrolytes. 

Begin your journey from walking to running

Let’s assume you walk four or five days every week and want to begin running. That’s a great start! Even if you don’t walk that much, the steps below will help you during your transition from walking to running. Pro tip: you can always take breaks in between if you are out of breath or feel exhausted.

Weeks 1-3

Develop an exercise schedule if you don’t currently have one. The goal is to become more comfortable being on your feet for extended periods of time.

  • First week – walk 30 minutes/day for four days
  • Second week – walk 40 minutes/day for four days
  • Third week – walk 50 minutes/day for four days

Weeks 4-6

Now it’s time to crank it up a bit! But don’t get too excited just yet. You want to slowly incorporate jogging into your schedule.

  • Fourth week – 10-minute warm-up walk, alternate 30-second light jog/4-minute walk for 15 minutes, 5-minute cool down walk
  • Fifth week – 10-minute warm-up walk, alternate 1-minute light jog/4-minute walk for 20 minutes, 5-minute cool down walk
  • Sixth week – 10-minute warm-up walk, alternate 2-minute light jog/3-minute walk for 25 minutes, 5-minute cool down walk

Week 7

When you feel comfortable with this routine, increase your jogging intervals and decrease your walking intervals as you see fit. Set a goal for yourself before you begin. Feel free to pick up the pace during your jog if it feels good. If you feel overwhelmed or exhausted, cut back the time.

  • Seventh week – 5-minute warm-up walk, alternate 3-minute jog/2-minute walk for 25 minutes, 5-minute cool down walk

Week 8

If you continue to feel comfortable, extend the duration of your intervals as you see fit. Alternate your jog and walking like previous routines. Continue to set small goals to reach. Feel free to pick up the pace during your jog if it feels good. If you feel overwhelmed or exhausted, cut back the time.

  • Eighth week – 5-minute warm-up walk, alternate 5-minute jog/1-minute walk for 30 minutes, 5-minute cool down walk

You did it!

By now, jogging for longer periods of time should become more and more comfortable. Congratulations, you’ve made the transition from walking to running! Continue to extend your jogging time. Maybe even quicken your stride and break into slow runs. You’ll eventually eliminate the walking portion of your intervals. When you feel comfortable running for 30-40 minutes, it’s time to sign up for your first half marathon! Do you have advice for someone who wants to graduate from walking to running? Let us know in the 3M Half Marathon Facebook Group or on Twitter.

The 2020 September running playlist is the anthem you need to chase your 13.1-mile PR

We’ve got more tunes for you because Austin is The Live Music Capital of the World. We’re sharing our favorite tunes with you every month so you can train for and chase your half marathon PR. Often times one song (or several!) can power you through a tough time during an intense workout or a long run. Trust us, we speak from experience! Jam out to the entire September running playlist or take your favorites and make your own list. The 2020 September running playlist has the music you need, including Austin’s rockers The Black Angels and megastar Lady Gaga. Don’t forget, we share every song on the massive #WeLiketheSoundofThat playlist and Twitter. Follow us so you know what’s next!

Playlist pro tips:

1) drag the 2020 September Running Playlist to your ‘Playlists’ section for quick access

2) click the download button so you can listen even if you’re offline

Utilize the September running playlist and these 5 self-care tips to maximize your training. Keep the volume at a level where you can pay attention to your surroundings. It’s important to know what’s going on around you! Is there something you like that we didn’t list? Let us know in the 3M Half Marathon Facebook Group and Twitter.

Follow us on Pinterest and discover more ways to organize your running shoes

Sometimes our shoe collection gets out of control. This is especially true when you have specific shoes for specific activities, like wearing your running shoes only when you run. There have been a few times where we couldn’t find the pair we needed. Add in your spouse, maybe kids, or roommates and the shoe pile can grow on its own! We started thinking about ways to organize our shoes and want to share what we’ve discovered with you. We built a Pinterest board with many clever, sleek, and good-looking ideas! Read about four of our favorites below. Follow 3M Half Marathon on Pinterest and decide for yourself when you visit our “Organize Your Running Shoes” board.

Under the bed

Various plastic containers store pairs of shoes under a bed as an example of different ways to organize your running shoes. Click on the image's link to visit 3M Half Marathon's Pinterest page for more ideas.

Unless you already have drawers under your bed, chances are you have unused space. Put this location to work! We pinned several ideas for different ways to organize your running shoes under your bed. Keep your drawer on wheels so it’s easier to pull out and push back in. This is a great option if your shoes are strewn about all over the bedroom.

On the wall

5 pair of running shoes are tucked into a hand-built wooden rack that hangs from the wall. It's an example of different ways to organize your running shoes. Click on the image's link to visit 3M Half Marathon's Pinterest page for more ideas.

Use the vertical space of your walls in your garage, entrance area, or laundry room. Just like the drawer under your bed option, this is a great way to save space. It gets shoes off the ground and prevents them from becoming a tripping hazard. Building a rack or two in your garage is your best bet if your running shoes need to dry off and air out.

In your closet

Stacks of space-saving plastic containers are filled with shoes. It's an example of different ways to organize your running shoes. Click on the image's link to visit 3M Half Marathon's Pinterest page for more ideas.

Do you have a hill of shoes on your closet floor? One of our Pins provides 20 different shoe storage ideas for your closet. Organize your running shoes and get them off the ground. The hang-down design ensures that you can always find the left and right shoes when you need them. This tactic is ideal if you live in an apartment.

DIY rack

Two different DIY racks that provide examples of different ways to organize your running shoes. Click on the image's link to visit 3M Half Marathon's Pinterest page for more ideas.

This might be our favorite because there are so many different ways that the rack can be customized! Let your imagination run wild, unless you buy a rack that comes with instructions. You can build it to your desired height, move it to where you want, and customize its additional functionality. Use the top spot for plants, put key hooks on the side, or add a corkboard so you can pin photos. So many ideas! 

There are so many different ways to organize your running shoes. Our “Organize Your Running Shoes” Pinterest board has something for everyone. We know you’ll find something that fits your just as well as your running shoes! Is there a specific way you currently organize your running shoes? Let us know in the 3M Half Marathon Facebook Group or on Twitter.