7 Secrets That Make Running So Much Easier

Photographed by: James Farrell
Refinery29 is proud to partner with track star Sanya Richards-Ross, a four-time Olympic medalist and nine-time World Champion. Team U.S.A.'s most-decorated female track and field Olympian of all time is looking to defend her title at the 2016 Summer Olympics (she won gold in the 400m in London and anchored the women’s team to another gold in the 4x400 relay). Follow along here on her #RoadToRio!

We’re about three months away from my Olympic trials, and four months from the Olympics! It seems like time is just flying by, but I am really happy with how my training is coming along. I’m preparing for my fourth run-up to an Olympic season, and as usual, there have been some unexpected setbacks — but also some major breakthroughs. That’s what I love about sports (and life): It’s tough, but it proves to us that we’re even tougher.

Race season has begun, and I plan to start competing soon — maybe even at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia on April 30. Until then, I’ll just be training hard and getting ready. Read on to learn a few of my tricks for making my runs more enjoyable.

1.
Get your playlist right. Music can make or break your run. Get amped up by putting together a new playlist of songs you’re excited about, or mix it up and do themed runs (think ‘80s music, TV theme songs, ‘90s pop princesses, fight songs, etc.). Right now my favorites are:
2. Switch up your route. Don’t let your runs get mundane. If you normally jog the same street route, try a slower-paced run up a nearby hiking trail, or hit a local university track. Keep it varied — not only to excite your inner runner, but to challenge your body and keep it guessing.

Photographed by: James Farrell
3. Share your successes on social. The Nike+ Running App tracks your progress and lets you take Instagrammable images that show your friends how much fun you had on your run. Personally, knowing that my friends and followers are going to see my distance and speed pushes me to go a little bit farther or a little bit faster. I never do my runs without this app. If you do share your stuff, make sure to tag me — I’m @SanyaRichiRoss on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook — and include #SRRxR29 so I get to join your journey, too. Who knows? You might just get some words of encouragement from yours truly!

4. Change up your stats. If you’re the type to track your stats (which I do think is important to do every now and then, mostly to see how far you’ve come), change it up every once in awhile. If you’re usually going for distance, try going for time instead, or measure your heart rate.

5. Try the pyramids. Pyramids are a running-workout structure that starts with the shortest distance and increases in set increments until you hit the longest distance; then, you decrease in the same increments until you’re back at the starting distance. For example: 200m, 400m, 600m, 800m, 600m, 400m, 200m, with recovery intervals (a.k.a. walking or slower jogging) between each run. If you don’t have a handy way to measure distance, feel free to swap in timed intervals instead of distances.

6. Take a day to just (not) do it. TAKE. A. REST. DAY. Your rest and recovery periods are just as critical to your overall wellness as your hardcore training days. Your muscles need the time to recover, especially if you’ve been lifting weights, which involves tearing muscle fibers. And there is such a thing as overtraining. Overtraining affects your sleep, inhibits your mental edge, and drains your immune system, which has to activate in overdrive to keep up with heavy activity. That can lead to increased injuries: not good.

7. Have fun with fashion. There is so much fun to be had with your workout gear. Take your fashion to the track and show it off! I always say, “Look good, feel good, run good.” Your workout clothes don’t have to be ordinary. Nike.com even gives you the option to design your own running shoes — how cool is that? Check out this pair my team had made for me — talk about motivation.

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