8 Ways To Improve Your Running Life

When you’re super busy or recovering from winter blahs, small tweaks can make major differences to the quality of your running life—get you out the door faster, eliminate decision fatigue, and combat doldrums. Here are a few to try.

Plan Your Week

Decision fatigue is real. Creating some weekly rhythms can eliminate some of it. You could decide ahead of time which days are for longer, faster, or hillier runs and which are for easier paces and flatter routes.

Or preplan your routes: for me that might mean Mondays I run southeast of home, Wednesdays I run southwest, Fridays I head north, and Saturdays are a long run free-for-all. Or assign days to cover a mix of terrain, with road workouts, trail runs, and track workouts.

Lay It Out

If you’re a morning runner, lay out your clothes, keys, reflective gear, pre-run snack and beverage the night before. Decide in advance what you’re going to listen to if you like to run with music/podcasts/audiobooks. Your future self will thank you.

Create a Post-Run Ritual

Last year, I decided that no matter how I’m feeling, I will always do the same yoga-based stretches after every run. I no longer put this off, mull over skipping it, or actually skip it—I just plop down and start stretching.

It’s weirdly gratifying to no longer be debating this same tiny question (“Should I do my stretches today?”) I took my short flow from Instagram’s @runnersloveyoga.

Streamline Your Fuel

Sometimes, figuring out what to eat and drink just seems to me like . . . a lot of work. If you find yourself similarly wandering around hungry, thirsty, and cranky after your workouts, decide on a go-to post-run snack or meal and stick with it.

Scene looking down at grass with a water bottle, rolled-up white towel, smart phone with earbuds, and pair of running shoes.
Running life simplified: layout gear ahead of time. // Photo: Shutterstock

Treat Yo Self

To motivate myself to hydrate better, I stock up on bottles of my favorite flavor of kombucha and drink one in the afternoon every day that I run. I always drink water as well, but the kombucha is a) tasty, b) hydrating, and c) something I always look forward to. Win-win-win.

On long run days, I walk down the street to my neighborhood coffee shop afterward to pick up a large mocha. The promise of caffeine, coffee, and chocolate is motivating, and my body thanks me, too.

Support Yourself From the Bottom Up

Simple swaps can make life way more comfortable. One thing making my running life better is wearing better footwear when I’m not running. When I’m at home, I’ve switched from wearing slippers to pairing my favorite socks (Merino Wool Bombas!) with lightweight, super-supportive foam Birkenstocks. My joints and entire self feel so good from this switch. ‘Stocks ‘n’ socks for life!

Make It Entertaining

Find something new to listen to. Lately, I’ve been getting most of my nonfiction reading in the form of audiobooks checked out from the Spokane City Library’s Libby app. (A few top recommendations: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, What Happened to You by Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry, Think Again by Adam Grant, and Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner.)

Whether it’s favorite music, a binge-worthy podcast, or a book you’re midway through, it helps to know you’ve got something good in the queue.

Go Minimal

Mix things up by going low-tech—leave your running watch and phone at home and run by feel. Pay more attention to the scenery, listen to the rhythm of your feet, and enjoy running in its simplest form.

Originally published as “Small Tweaks For A Better Running Life” in the March-April 2022 print issue.

Sarah Hauge is a writer and editor who lives in Spokane with her husband and two children. She writes the Run Wild column for each issue of Out There.

Find more Run Wild column tips and advice and running articles in the OTO archives.

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