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Best Runner’s Hacks

Decades of training racing and coaching has taught me a ton of quick fixes and shortcuts to optimizing the time on my feet. Although there is no shortcut to attaining fitness outside of pure hard work, there are many steps you can take to support your journal in a cheap and fast way.   Here is a list of my favorite hacks in running:


Keep Your Feet Dry: We often find ourselves heading out into the rain, sleet or snow on a day where we “just can’t miss”.  There is a great way to keep your feet dry which may allow you to stay out longer and avoid Maceration, or pruning (outer skin layer saturation) which can lead to blisters or athlete’s feet. This will require TWO pairs of thin running socks and 2 small sized garbage bags. Put one pair of socks on then place your foot comfortably in the small plastic bag, then place the second pair of socks on. If you use a longer pair of socks for the outer layer, you can also tuck the top of the bag inside. Small office style garbage bags work perfectly. When you return from your run, your shoes and outer socks may be drenched, but your inner pair and feet will be dry. Pharmaceutical companies also sell plastic foot detox bags for about $2 per 100.


Quick Shoe Drying: If you just used the hack above, then stuff your wet running shoes with good ole fashioned newspaper and leave overnight. The paper will soak all the moisture from your shoes and get them dry for tomorrow’s run.


Keep Your Water Cold: If you hate to grab a water bottle after a run and squeeze warm water into your mouth, then try this quick fix. Fill your water bottle halfway then freeze lying on its side. Before you leave the next morning for your run, fill the second half with cold water. The half block of ice will slowly melt and keep your water cold for a few hours. Use multiple bottles if needed for a longer run with stops.


Wake Up Run Ready: This one might be for the completely insane runner, but most runners are crazy about their training. If you are like me, you have trained at all different times, over the years. When I found myself short on time, I started running before work, alarm blaring at 5:15am. To save minutes when I moved the slowest in the dark, I started sleeping in my inner layer of running clothes, shorts, tees, socks, and watch. During the summer, I just had to jump up and throw on shoes, during the winter I might slide on a pair of tights or joggers, compression top and windbreaker. Also, weirdly, less excuses for staying in bed floating through my mind since I was basically already dressed to run.  Any additional layer was spread out next to my bed, taking seconds to put on.


Don’t Lose It: We have all lost a key, money, hotel card, or debit card at some point on a run. Most of the time, the little runner’s pocket inside our shorts does a good job holding our stuff, but sometimes the bouncing can shake it free without us knowing. Use a rubber band to cinch the top of the key pocket inside your shorts to ensure you can get back into your house or buy that smoothly when you are done.  If it is just a single loose key, tie it into your shoe laces at the top. Don’t forget to double tie the knot.


Secure Your Wet Laces: Cross country runners will know this one. If you have ever run or raced in the pouring rain or in mud, you know that your shoe laces can loosen or open when they get heavy. There is nothing worse than having to stop and tie your shoes when you are in the groove or especially a race.  Use general white athletic take or even duct tape to secure your laces. Tape two loops across the top of your laces and under your mid arch. Taped down laces cannot unravel or flop around when soaking wet.


Hide Fuel Along a Long Run Route: If you don’t have a support vehicle like the pros, you can drive your running route backwards on the way to the start and plant unopened water bottles and fueling bars, chews, etc. I suggest not planting your regular squeezable water bottle unless you feel completely safe that no one can tamper with the contents. Unopened bars and chew or gel packs work well. This works well with a looping route where you can leave as much as you need at one spot.


Lacing Matter: Often, runners complain about pain on the top of their feet. Lacing and tying your shoes too tight can cause pain, inflammation and even stress fractures to the small bones on the top of your foot, including the Talus, Sesamoid, Metatarsal bones.  Make sure your laces are snug enough to support your feet, but not so tight that you feel blood circulation loss or pain. A nagging fatigue aching often appears before a real injury if your laces or too tight. If you have pain on top of your feet, a quick fix is to skip the top set of holes. Also, you can try lacing up your shoes alternating sets of holes.


Match Your Playlist to Your Workout: Music can set the mood and get you going, even when you don’t really want to go, go, go. If you run with music, you should consider alternating playlists to match your workout for the day. If you have a tempo run and need a little extra adrenaline boost, then your favorite hype songs should be on deck. But if you have a prescribed recovery run than swap out the hype soundtrack for a more relaxing assortment of songs. The background music will affect your mood and your effort, so curate the list to make sure your environment is just right for success.


Smart Gear Shopping: Although you don’t need much to be an avid runner, we all like cool gear and weather specific items. Quality running gear can be quite expensive, especially if your have a favorite boutique shop or brand. Keep in mind that most retail companies reduce prices and have sales on inventory at the end of each season. Purchasing cold weather running gear as spring approaches will save you money.

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