Female runners will tell you: running is liberating. It makes you feel ready to tackle the world, even for people at a beginner fitness level.
Plus, running can regulate women’s estrogen levels to reduce risk of diabetes, breast, and uterine cancers.
If you’re ready to enhance your body and mind with running, here are nine tips to improve performance, plus a bonus five tips to stay safe.
Running comes very naturally for most of us. And while it is a simple but effective way to get and stay fit, these running tips for women at any fitness level will boost results while minimizing your chances of burnout.
Even if you’re running to lose weight, remember that food is fuel and your body can’t function without it, especially when doing strenuous exercise. Eat sensible amounts of healthy meals with a proper balance of carbs, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
Pay attention to calcium and iron.Female runners can be prone to bone loss during aging, and high-impact workouts can exacerbate it.
For these nutrients, eat dark leafy veggies like spinach, broccoli, salmon, beef, and dairy. Ask your doctor about taking a multivitamin to fill in any nutritional gaps in your diet.
It may be most effective to frontload your calories by eating bigger portions earlier in the day to power up your day’s exercise and activity, and taper off with lighter meals as the day progresses.
Hydrate to dominate! Most people don’t drink enough water. Keep your water intake high enough to make up for how much you sweat when running.
This step is important to avoid injuries and pain for female runners at any fitness level. Take five to fifteen minutes at a time to take care of your Achilles, glutes, and lumbar spine especially with dynamic stretching.
Practice single-heel raises, squats, pigeon stretch, hip flexor stretches, and more.
Though it can feel so zen to get into your zone while running, you shouldn’t zone out completely. Listen to your body. Set a challenging yet manageable speed. Breathe with intention and rhythm. Nasal breathing can be a big help.
Also, pay attention to form. Keep the neck, shoulders, jaw, brow, and hands relaxed to avoid tension and wasting energy.
Instead, direct energy toward tensing and bracing your core slightly for stability without rotating the upper body too much. Make sure you’re lifting your feet high enough.
If you’re a beginner runner, start out slow, and increase your mileage by 10% per week to accustom your body to the exercise without overdoing it.
You want to practice discipline and follow through on your intentions to run regularly, but sometimes your body needs a break. Maybe you hurt yourself last time, or maybe you’re under the weather. When it’s time to let your body recover, your body will give you clues.
Add an extra challenge that accelerates your fitness. Run up hills, stairs, or bleachers, or incorporate intensity intervals. This high-intensity anaerobic running builds more muscle, strength, and performance.
Regardless of fitness level, use an app, a fitness watch or monitor, or manually track your miles, pace per mile, heart rate, breathing, and calorie burn.
It feels great to reach a goal, but be careful not to rest on your laurels and get stuck in a rut with the same old routine. Constantly set new, more difficult goals to keep yourself engaged and keep your body working so you actually see continuous results.
Whether you run with your best friend, partner, spouse, or your dog, running with a partner can boost morale and help you push your pace per mile. A running buddy can also function as an accountability partner so you’re less tempted to skip or skimp on your workout schedule.
Your body won’t cooperate with your goals if you don’t give it a chance to rest.
Get quality sleep every night by setting a consistent bed and wake time, limiting caffeine, and keeping screens off and out of reach at night.
Take at least one day off per week. Vary your running days with walks, hikes, swimming, or short yoga/pilates workouts.
You can also use hot and cold baths, massages, or a TENS device to help prepare your body to perform its best during your next run.
Running shouldn’t be your only exercise. You should also pay attention to your upper body and core, and lower body strength training — not just for full-body wellness, but to help improve stability and performance for running.
Get in your planks, push-ups, pull-ups, and squats, or learn how to deadlift as a bonus running boost. Strength- and stability-building is also an important strategy for preventing injury.
Women are built uniquely, so it’s vital to wear the perfect head-to-toe gear with the right construction and fabric to be comfortable, breathable, and flexible.
Let’s start from the ground up. Pick the right running shoes. Experts emphasize the perfect shoe, because the wrong pair can really mess up your feet, joints, form, and full-body alignment.
Pay attention to how your ankles rotate while walking and running. If they pronate, or roll slightly from side to side, you may want a shoe with more support and cushioning to ease stress on your knees.
If you have minimal pronation, perhaps wear simpler, more neutral running shoes. Either way, make sure they fit just right and feel natural, and there are no irritating spots that might cause extra blisters. Don’t forget socks designed for running.
Which shorts you decide on depends on your body type and preferred fit for your body, the amount of coverage and give that you want, and whether you prefer extras, like pockets.
Have enough running tops to keep you going year-round, including tanks and tees for warm weather, plus long sleeves, hoodies, and outerwear to stay warm in the cold.
Another essential is the sports bra. Make sure it fits, supports, stretches, and breathes with you.
In 2018, the death of runner Mollie Tibbets started a nationwide movement encouraging women to discuss the fears they face every time they lace up their running sneakers. Women have been calling for a shift in conversation — an awareness of the nervousness and frustration many women feel when going for a run.
One survey found 84% percent of women have experienced harassment while running compared to only 4% percent of men.
Running allows you to prove to yourself and the world that a strong body supports a strong mind and a strong sense of self. And now you know a bit about protecting and nurturing your body for running.
But a list of running safety tips for women would be incomplete without pointers about staying safe from other kinds of harm.
We recommend running while the sun is still out for safety, but it doesn’t work in every woman’s schedule. There are still plenty of universal guidelines that apply as safety tips for early morning running women, and tips for women running at night.
If you’re going by yourself, make sure at least one person close to you knows exactly where you’re going, when, and how long you’ll be out. Send off a quick text, make a call, or leave a note. You can also share your phone’s location with a loved one.
There’s safety in numbers. Bringing a friend, partner, or canine companion can go a long way.
Always check local laws, but it’s a good idea to have something like a noise alarm or mace on hand, just in case. There are also apps available that contact help for you in case of an emergency. For extra peace of mind, basic self-defense classes are a great plan.
Music can take the enjoyment of running to another level, but noise-blocking earbuds or headphones can be a hazard. You want to be aware of all your surroundings, not just for potential threats from strangers, but also so you hear cars, bikes, horns, or someone warning you about danger. So if you just can’t give up your running playlist, keep the volume low enough to hear the world around you.
And if a weirdo does yell something at you, stay focused on the task at hand as much as possible. Usually, acknowledging or engaging with harassment will only escalate it.
If you have reason to believe you’re at risk while running, stay calm, and remember all the tools and skills at your disposal to protect yourself.
Whatever your fitness level is, we want to know where you are in your running journey and hear your clever running performance and safety tips for women.
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