If there is one positive thing that has come out of the pandemic, it is the fact that so many people have become interested in running. Whether you are new to the sport, an old novice, training for your first half-marathon, or eyeing your 10th ultra-marathon, every runner is always looking for new ways to run more comfortably. The magic bullet to make running feel effortless and easy is still non-existent (but the moment it is discovered, I expect that I will be alerted immediately). But there are a few running hacks that can make running just a little easier, more comfortable, or enjoyable. Here’s my absolute favorites.
Running Hacks To Stay Comfortable
Running is hard enough, don’t let things like chaffing or shoe slippage also make running painful or uncomfortable.
Deodorant Double Duty – There are so many products that can go a long way to make sure you never know the pain of a post-chafe shower. However, if you happen to forget to pack your Squirrels Nut Butter (or don’t bother purchasing more until you are CLEARLY out because you suck at learning lessons the easy way), I’ve found that Dove Deodorant can go a long way when I need it to. Use it like you normally would, and then also apply to any potential chafe zones.
Anti-chafe KT Tape – This is one of my favorite running tips. If you happen to chafe in one spot because of clothing (think waist bands and sports bra lines), cut a strip of KT tape and put it directly on your skin. The full barrier has kept my beloved Nathan VaporHowe from rubbing a particularly irritating section of my arm raw during my 8 hour 50k race. So it definitely holds up.
Toe Socks – I also love a good toe sock to keep away the disgusting in between the toes blistering. Treat your toes like poorly behaved children, and put as much space between them as possible. I’ve had great results with Injinji Socks, but have found that the copper in XO Skin Socks helps manage sweating on really humid days just a little better.
Alternative Lacing – If shoe fit happens to be the cause of your chaffing or discomfort, there’s a number of ways that you can adjust your lacing based on your unique foot. Before switching over the Altra shoes, I also cut a little slice of the upper mesh in the toebox area to give my feet a little more room when they swell. Take a look at the graphic below to see how a different lacing pattern might benefit you.
Don’t Lose Your Shirt – This last tip is somewhat specific to the ladies who, like myself, spend the summer months running in unbearable heat and humidity. If you start out a run, and realize you need to shed your tank, don’t get stuck holding it in your hands for the last few miles. Lace it through the back of your sports bra, and now you’ve got a cape! It may not be the most fashionable look, but it’s better than losing a $30 tank.
Quick Dry Shoes – And while we’re on the subject of shoes, nothing sucks more than sliding your feet into a damp pair of shoes. But running in the rain is inevitable, and if you are somewhat minimalist (like myself), you may not have a backup pair. Never, ever, ever stick your shoes in the dryer. It’s like the pet cemetery, they won’t come back to you the same. However, grab some old newspaper, and shove a few pages into your shoes. It’s like the rice trick, but for shoes instead of phones.
Running Hacks To Run Farther
Runners are unique, but most of us can agree on one thing. We want to run as far as possible, and ideally we’d like that distance to grow over time. Here’s a couple tricks to help you get in a few extra steps.
Intervals – Endurance running typically engages one set of muscles that work on repeat to keep you moving. Throwing in some faster paces (even when you feel like you are dragging) can actually help you run longer. Running fast shifts the work to different muscle groups, and can help glycogen availability. For long runs, I like to practice 30 second surges on the mile, every mile, and have found this to work well for every distance.
Alternative Fuels – It’s well known that in order to run far, you have to run fueled. And if you’re running really far, you’ll probably need to eat while you are running. No problem. Until you go on a trip and realize you forgot your fuel, or drive out to a trail head only to find that you didn’t grab the gels on your counter. If you find yourself in this kind of pinch, there’s a few gas station finds that can help. Kids fruit snacks, gummy bears, and even Starbursts or LifeSavers can give you a quick hit of energy. I’ve also had good luck with grabbing a couple of single serve honey or jelly packets from the breakfast buffet at hotels when needed.
Carry Pepto-tabs – So here’s the thing about endurance running. It can be really hard on the stomach. And it can be hard to predict when your stomach might go south. Fortunately, the makers of Pepto-Bismol have created chewable tablets, that are individually wrapped and can be easily carried. The moment you notice that fearful gurgle, whip a chewable out, and keep on moving.
Personal Aid Station – This is one of the best trail running hacks I’ve stumbled on. If you are running a really long distance, it might be a little daunting to carry everything you’ll need for hours and hours. If you can tolerate running some loops, set up a personal aid station with a small cooler. Keep some ice, fruit, coconut water, or pickle juice handy. On my longest summer runs, I’ve been able to keep a ReddyIce pop frozen for several hours with the help of a Yeti thermos and ice.
If improving speed and pace is your current focus, I’d high recommend that you head over to The Mother Runners blog to check out her post on 9 Running Hacks That Will Make You Faster.
Running Hacks To Save Time
Because no matter how fast or fit you are, one thing we could all use more of is time.
Prep Breakfast – Making oatmeal at 5am is not something I am interested in. For most of my weekday runs, I actually hold off on eating breakfast until after my run. I share why in my Running & Nutrition post, but this means that I don’t have time to mess around when I finish up my run. I am hungry. Having breakfast ready to go helps me get out the door faster on my long run days, and saves me time after my weekday runs. If you’re looking for a few idea’s, check out my Long Run Breakfast round up.
Prep Running Gear – I don’t know a single human is more mentally sharp in the early morning, right after an alarm clock goes off. And you certainly don’t have time to wash a quick load when you realize all your running socks are past their prime. Setting out your running clothes the night before ensures you don’t unintentionally grab the shorts that have been relegated to yard duty, and will save you just a few minutes in your Morning Routine.
Running Hacks To Save Money
Unfortunate as it may be, running isn’t actually a cheap sport. But don’t worry, I’ve got a few ideas to help you from dipping into your retirement fund just to stay in shape.
Hang Post-Run Clothes – Leaving out dirty clothes probably goes against everything your mother tried to teach you before you moved out of the house. But tossing sweaty, damp clothes directly into your hamper is one way to make sure your clothes wind up disgusting and probably get thrown out much faster. Lay your clothes flat to air out for a few hours, and they will last a lot longer.
Travel Hack Destination Races – One of the best parts of running is destination races. But traveling all over the country can definitely rack up quite the bill. But I’ve got a whole post dedicated to helping you figure out how to Travel Hack your way to low-cost trips for you and your support crew, I mean family.
Get Creative with Race Registration – Race registrations also have a way of eating into your bank account. Check out my 7 Creative Ways to Pay for Race Registration for some ideas on how to avoid all those fees.
Save on Gear – Quality running gear does not come cheap. And cheap running gear doesn’t usually last, or even worse makes running uncomfortable. While you can’t avoid making a few key purchases, you can do a few things to bring the overall cost down. From buying off-season to stocking up on a previous shoe model, I’ve covered some tried and true recommendations for Saving on Running Gear.
Running Hacks to Stay Safe
Running for mental health isn’t as effective if you’re uneasy or nervous. You might be more confident if you take a few measures to prioritize your safety.
Carry Your Keys – For your home or your car; don’t leave your keys under a fiscus planter or hidden in your car. Tie a house key into your laces, stash it on the inside of your sports bra (next to your ribcage is most secure), or opt for a handheld carrier with a pocket.
ApplePay – Your phone and your wallet can get you out of a number of binds. Luckily, with today’s technology, your phone has the ability to become your wallet. Make sure you have a digital wallet set up so that you can stop and pay for water, fuel, Vaseline, sunscreen, or to arrange an Uber for extra-sketchy situations.
Oiselle Shorts – These shorts are an absolute must-buy for my women readers. The built in pockets give you plenty of space to carry your phone, fuel, and this amazing Nathan siren. It’s an unfortunate reality that runners need to take some extra steps to ensure their own safety and protection. So pack a siren, some pepper spray, or whatever you think will keep you secure. And pack it in these shorts, because pockets are the best.
I hope you found some value in at least one or two of these running hacks, and I definitely encourage you to get out there and give them a shot! Let me know if any prove helpful for you, and definitely let me know what running hacks I’ve left out. I’m always looking to add more tools to the belt!