Health

25 Crazy Clever Hacks That Actually Make Running Awesome

Your feet, boobs, hips, knees, nipples, and motivation will thank you. And that's just for starters.

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1. Stop stretching before you run.

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Studies have shown that static stretching — holding a muscle in a fixed, stretched position for 20 or 30 seconds — doesn't really prevent injury and may even compromise performance when you run. If you want to warm up before you run, dynamic stretching is where it's at.

2. Eliminate like a million sneaker/fit problems by learning different ways to tie your sneakers.

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Cramped toes, slipping heels, and pain across the top of the foot are just a few problems that can be solved with creative lacing. School yourself here.

3. Take lots of brisk walking breaks.

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Fact: Some people complete entire marathons alternating between walking and running. Why not give yourself quick walk breaks in the middle of your runs, too? You can follow the Galloway method, named after Jeff Galloway, the godfather of run-walking or make it up on your own.

4. Do shorter running workouts.

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If the thought of running for a cool 45 minutes sounds like a nightmarish hellscape but you still want to get in some good exercise, try a quick high-intensity workout. You'll have to push yourself to move a bit harder and faster but you can do anything for 25 minutes, right? Here are a bunch of running workouts that all take 30 minutes or less.

5. Turn your run into an immersive adventure game.

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If outrunning zombies sounds heroic, download Zombies, Run, an app that makes you the hero in a zombie adventure story. You have to outrun hordes of brain-hungry monsters while collecting items you'll need and progressing through the missions. If James Bond-esque spy stories are more your thing, check out The Walk, another immersive adventure story that advances as you run. It offers 800 minutes of audio which should get you through a couple runs.

6. Ease into adding mileage with a Couch to 5K app.

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Running sucks when you're trying to force yourself to go farther or faster than your body or mind is ready for — it's uncomfortable physically and makes every run feel like a struggle, which feels like shit mentally, which makes you hate running and never want to do it.

BUT what if you eased into it, building fitness gradually but steadily until without even realizing it you were running three miles without stopping and without feeling miserable? Following a Couch to 5K plan (you can use an app) will do the trick.

7. Make a running mix with songs that have more than 120 beats per minute (BPM).

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Studies have shown that listening to music with a higher-than 120 BPM makes exercise seem easier and elevates mood as you work out. Use SongBPM to figure out the BPM of your favorite songs or check out JogFM's playlists organized by BPM.

8. Or use an app like Songza that will curate perfect running playlists.

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Songza lets you browse playlists by activity, so visit their library of playlists to work out to and go crazy. I recommend "80's Training Montage" and "Rap Bangers For Running." Also check out RockMyRun, which lets you choose playlists put together by DJs — you can choose by genre or BPM — or use myBeat mode, which adjusts the tempo of your music to match your pace (or push you to go harder).

9. Break up your run with bodyweight exercises.

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Running a mile and do 100 squats is a big NOPE with a side of Zzzzzz. But a workout that consists of a quarter mile run and 25 squats alternating back and forth until you've done each four times (i.e. one mile and 100 squats) is more interesting. The quarter mile repeats should be run at a comfortably hard pace and the squats should be done as quickly as is safely possible (and with full range of motion). You can substitute other bodyweight exercises for the squats or change up the distance of the run depending on how much time you have.

10. Make sure you have the right sneakers.

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It's not just the shoelluminati of the Sneaker Industrial Complex; proper running shoes really do make for more comfortable, less injury-prone runs. Go to a store where a trained pro can analyze your gait and help you pick sneakers that will make your runs feel better and minimize post-run aches and pains or use our running shoe quiz to find the right pair.

11. Get temporary tattoos to keep your attitude positive and your motivation strong.

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Studies have shown positive self talk helps people perform better and boosts confidence during exercise. If you want to enjoy your run, try to drown out your inner Debbie Downer with some positive thoughts about how much ass you're kicking. Reminding yourself that you can do it and that you're awesome for making the effort and that you're basically part human, part cheetah might do the trick.

And why memorize your own matnra when you can get some running inspiration-themed temporary tattoos from Run INKspired?

12. Invest in a fashion forward and functional headband.

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Keep your hair out of your face and minimize sweat cascading off your head and onto your body with a moisture-wicking headband. The nerdier the better.

13. Keep those sweaty earbuds in place with DIY ear wraps.

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Just wrap twist ties around the base of the headphone and loop them over your ears. Voilà, you're now a DIY master AND an inspiring runner.

14. Follow #runchat and #seenonmyrun to get inspired.

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Get motivated by other runners sharing photos of beautiful views, medals from races, sneakers, and sweaty selfies. If all you need is sneaker porn, consider following Nike Running on Instagram.

15. Make your pre- and post-run snacks into delicious rituals.

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If you're running first thing in the morning or going out for an hour or more, you'll probably want to have a substantial snack before and/or after you run. Instead of just grabbing a sad mushy banana or pre-packaged bar, put together a simple, delicious, satisfying something you can look forward to. Get inspiration for a healthy snack by checking out what healthy people snack on IRL and what they eat for breakfast.

16. Get cheaper running clothes by buying them at the end of each season.

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Running doesn't have to be about choosing between stank, sweat-stained clothes or spending all your time doing laundry. If you stock up on stuff to wear you will give less of your life to the hellish timesuck of laundry. But buying all that moisture-wicking, technical apparel can get spendy. Shop for warm weather running clothes after summer and winter apparel right before spring and you can get stuff at a pretty hefty discount.

17. Get wool socks.

The right socks can mean fewer blisters, less irritation, drier feet, just the right amount of support, and basically just a ton of comfort. Wool absorbs moisture better than cotton, can continue to insulate even when wet (wet cotton = super cold feet), and they dry quickly.

Shop at a sporting goods store for a good selection of moisture-wicking socks made from wool for all temperatures and thickness preferences and use a good guide so you know what you're looking for.

18. Understand what's happening boobwise when you run.

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The right sports bra is the difference between a bouncy, painful run and delightfully stationary experience. There are a few factors to consider when you're buying the right bra: compression (best for A and B cups) vs. encapsulation (for larger breasts), strap style, clasp (bra snaps in back) or no clasp (pull bra over your head), and impact the bra was designed for. Again, a running specialty store is your best bet for great sports bras and trained pros who can explain the options and help you decide.

19. Seriously enough with chafed nips and thighs.

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As the old saying goes, hell is chafed nipples (or wherever on your body skin rubs against skin or clothing over and over again while you're sweaty a bunch. If you apply anti-chafing products like BodyGlide and NipEAZE to your nipples, the insides of your thighs, armpits, and wherever else the heartbreak of chafing is ruining your life, your long run will feel 1000% better.

20. Vanquish shin splints in less than 10 minutes.

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A lot of runners suffer from shin splints — pain on the front outside of the lower leg — and they make running miserable and take a while to rehabilitate. But you can prevent them by doing super simple exercises that strengthen your calves, ankles, feet, and hips so that they're able to assist your shins with the burden of running. Doing them each day you're not running takes less about 10 minutes. As always talk to your doctor about any pain you're experiencing before, during, or after running.

21. Trick yourself into going for a run by simply putting on your workout gear and heading out for a brisk walk.

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When we asked members of the BuzzFeed community to share their tips about getting in shape, Brittany said that the best advice she'd ever gotten for getting motivated to work out was to put on your workout gear and go for a brisk 10-minute walk. "...Nine times out of 10, getting the fresh air and your heart rate going will make you want to continue with a higher-intensity workout."

22. Use longer runs as opportunities to get lost in an audiobook or catch up on podcasts.

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When you're not trying to haul ass and therefore don't need a thumping beat to set your pace and actually need a little something to distract you during that long weekend run, podcasts and audiobooks are entertaining, absorbing, and time-passing. Might we recommend BuzzFeed's own podcasts Another Round and Internet Explorer? Here are a few more podcasts that will capture your attention, too.

23. Use an app to track how many miles you've put on your sneakers.

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Running shoes typically need to be replaced after 200 to 500 miles of wear (depending on a few factors like how much you weigh, how much you're running, and how long you've had the shoes). If you run for a while with sneakers that are past their prime you're probably start to notice aches and pains and just general discomfort.

If you don't want to do it the old fashioned way (Excel spreadshirt or — gasp — pen and paper), an app like MapMyRun will let you log mileage on specific sneakers after each run.

24. Free up your hands and pockets by tying your key into your shoelaces.

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Actually you can take it with you. Use a belt or armband for keys, some cash, even your giant iPhone 6 Plus and anything else you want to have with you while you run or will need as soon as you're done.

25. Register for a fun race.

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Some races feel basically like parties with a few miles thrown in. Try a Color Run or a St. Patrick's Day road race (these end in beer and green bagels just FYI). It'll give you something to train for and nothing beats the feeling of crossing the finish line.

Sally Tamarkin is a health editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Sally Tamarkin at sally.tamarkin@buzzfeed.com.

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