Ask your friends, runners included, about their day-to-day problems, and many will say that they feel tired too much of the time. That they’d like to have more energy.
No surprise there, then. With information overload, economic concerns and the generally accelerating pace of life, many of us feel that our fuel tanks easily run low.
Thankfully, we runners do better than most. Experts say that our running gives us better health and more energy than people who don’t exercise. “If exercise could be packaged into a pill,” says ageing specialist Dr Robert Butler, “it would be the single most prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.”
Still, even runners can become side-tracked by bad habits such as poor nutrition, high stress and inadequate sleep. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, here are 30 top tips for magazine subscribers. Otherwise, enjoy these 9 as a preview - and if you want to subscribe, you can save save 30% right here.
Running and Exercise
1. Give yourself a daily high
Try to run, or do another form of exercise, every day. Exercise promotes better sleep, makes you pay more attention to eating properly and releases mood-enhancing endorphins that can lead to a ‘runner’s high’. Exercise physiologist Ken Sparks says, “Endorphins elevate your immune system and give you a big boost of energy.”
2. Jump into the pool
The repetitive footstrikes of running can sometimes lead to excessive fatigue. The solution is regular cross-training that provides relief and restores energy. “I love to do lengths in the pool,” says 2:45 marathon runner Kim Saddic. “The water enables me to stretch and relax. It feels therapeutic, like a massage, and refreshes me after running.”
3. Keep your options open
The more flexible you are with your training alternatives, the less likely you are to miss a run and feel depressed. Erika Pickman, a 29-year-old, generally runs five miles at lunchtime. That’s the time of day when she’d otherwise begin to feel lethargic. “The run really rejuvenates me,” she says. When Pickman trained for a marathon and needed to run longer, however, she did her training at 5am to make sure she wouldn’t miss them later in her busy day.
4. Run with the early birds
There’s no ‘best time’ to run for an energy boost, but many runners find that mornings suit them for a variety of reasons. Runner Katrina Painter has two young children, who often wear her down during the day. That’s why she prefers to run in the morning, when she’s fresh from a good night’s sleep.
5. Make every step count
It’s not just running and other training that can keep you energised. ‘Informal exercise’ – raking leaves, walking at every opportunity and taking the stairs instead of the lift – will also help. Personal trainer Luke Cunliffe advises his clients to take at least 10,000 steps (roughly five miles) in the course of every day.
6. Dare to be different
Vary your running so that you feel excited about each session. Change your regular route, try a park in another town, go to a track, explore a new trail, run that hill you’ve always wanted to tackle, or try running faster once a week as a challenge. “Doing the same run every day is like always eating the same thing for lunch,” says sports psychologist Mary Duane.
7. Equip yourself better
Exercise equipment enables you to continue your training programme – and maintain energy levels – under difficult circumstances. When Pickman resumed running after giving birth to her first child, she ran at home on a treadmill while her baby slept. Later, she used a running stroller so that she could take her child along during her outdoor work-outs.
8. Try new sports
According to Sparks, all exercise increases energy production in your muscles. So, even if you’re injured or can’t run for some other reason, you can maintain your energy level with other activities such as walking, swimming, biking, strength training and stair climbing.
9. Double your effort, double your reward
Breaking up your exercise into two sessions – one in the morning and one in the evening – is a great way to stay energised throughout the day. Try three miles in the morning and three in the evening instead of one six-miler. Running in the morning prepares you for every challenge you’ll face during the day. Running in the evening (at least three hours before bedtime) helps promote good sleep.