12 Helpful Self Care Tips Every Runner Should Try
Over the last several years, the topic of self care has become increasingly central to the health and wellness conversation, and with good reason! Taking time to attend to our needs, physical, mental, or otherwise, can help us to feel more relaxed and happy and can even increase our productivity.
Running on its own is a great way to care for ourselves and relieve anxiety. And, when we practice intentional self care in all other aspects of our lives, we can drastically improve our running performance in turn.
Here we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips and strategies you can incorporate into your self care practice to feel well in mind, body, and spirit!
Get plenty of sleep and set up a nightly routine for yourself.
If you’re like me, it can be easy to get so wrapped up in work or so zoned out on a Netflix binge that you lose track of the time at night. But, our bodies need sleep and good rest can help us to retain focus, productivity, and strength. Set a bedtime for yourself to ensure you get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Make a nightly routine for yourself to get your mind and body relaxed and ready for sleep.
Practice mindfulness and meditation.
Researchers at Rutgers University found that combining daily meditation and aerobic exercise can significantly decrease symptoms of depression, low moods, and ruminative thoughts, and that those changes can occur after just 8 weeks. At some point during your day, find a quiet place to sit down and close your eyes. Relax your body and focus on taking deep, measured breaths; it only takes five to ten minutes and the results are incredible. You can even incorporate a mindfulness practice into your run!
Eat well and stay hydrated.
Eating well is essential to any self care practice. It’s important to be intentional about the food we put into our bodies and how that food can help, or hinder, our running practice. Nutrition apps are an easy, accessible way to track your food intake, get tips and recipe ideas, and help you attain your nutrition goals. There are also a bunch of different apps you can use to remind yourself to drink water and to track how well you’re staying hydrated. Check them out!
But also, treat yourself.
We can’t always be perfect with our health and fitness regimen, and we don’t have to be! It’s important to treat yourself to something nice regularly, whether it’s your favorite ice cream or just an extra rest day. Ditch the deprivation mindset and be good to yourself.
Listen to your body.
Some days you really hit your stride and feel like you could run forever. Other days your body just doesn’t want to keep going. And, still other days you might be under the weather or feel the nagging pain of an injury about to happen. Check in with yourself and ask, is it really worth it in the long run to push myself today or would my body benefit from taking it easy?
Did you know that the right scents can actually help us to relax and elevate our mood? Studies have shown that both peppermint and lavender have amazing benefits for our health, including alleviating anxiety and depression. So, grab some peppermint or lavender oil, dab some on your wrists, and inhale. You’ll be sure to chase away those pre-run jitters!
Make time to run.
When you’re busy it can be tempting to just squeeze your run in around everything else you have to do. But, when you think about running as a crucial component of your self care practice, not just another thing to fit into the day, it can feel more like a reward than a chore. Set good boundaries around your work and other activities so that you can ensure you have the time to run when it’s best for you.
Create a playlist (or a few) to help you get in the running mood.
Whether you need a fast beat to help you keep your rhythm or a nice, upliftng tone to push you through the miles, music can help get you into the right mindset before and during your run. Make a few playlists for yourself that you can tailor your tunes to your mood on any given day.
Set small, attainable goals for yourself.
You don’t have to PR every time you hit the race course to feel like you’re making progress. Sometimes it just feels good to be able to check a little something off of the list. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you can feasibly attain, and then go for it!
Get a buddy.
Running buddies can help us get through a tough workout, push us to achieve our goals, and help us to stay accountable to our fitness practice. You can run together, or you can run separately and share tips and encouragement. Either way, running buddies keep us on track and increase feelings of connectedness and positivity.
Researchers have found that incorporating a short program of stretching exercises into your daily routine can help to reduce anxiety and improve mental health. We hold stress and tension in different parts of our bodies, so attending to those body parts through stretching helps to relax us and to manage the physical manifestations of anxiety and poor mental health. Plus, it can reduce your likelihood of injury!
Practice positive affirmations.
Remind yourself that you are strong, powerful, and capable of attaining your goals. You can write it down on a piece of paper and reflect on it when you’re feeling down on yourself. Or, you can repeat things that help you to feel inspired and motivated while you’re out there pounding the pavement on a run. Visualize the outcomes that you want to achieve, and then make it happen!
- MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing synchronized brain activity. , Online Publication, Feb 02, 2016 ,
- Lavender and the Nervous System. , Online Publication, Feb 17, 2013 ,
- Effectiveness of a stretching program on anxiety levels of workers in a logistic platform: a randomized controlled study, Online Publication, Jun 02, 2013 ,