Eight Essential Running Tips for Women

This page aims to provide some running tips for women.

In reality, almost all running tips apply to men and women equally.
However, I'll do my best to provide some women-specific advice using information from women I run with.

The tricky thing with an article like this is that it is going to generalise a little. And that may be perceived to be offensive. So, please consider that I am aware of that and am trying to avoid controversy.

The Many Benefits of Running


running tips for women

Running is one of the easiest way to get fit, get healthy and lose weight. All you need is your runners and some sports wear and you are good to go.

There are so many benefits of running....

.... it builds up your endurance....

.... it helps you burn calories, to help achieve weight loss or sustain your weight...

.... it helps strengthen your joints and bones....

Furthermore, running reduces the risk of illness and sicknesses like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and different types of cancers because it helps strengthen the body's immune system.

And it offers mental health benefits as well with studies showing that running is at least as effective as some anti-depression medication. Not to say that if you suffer from depression you should not be taking the medication. That is a conversation between you and your doctor. But there is a strong case for combining both running and medication to reap even more benefits.

With all these benefits, there is no doubt why so many people want to start running. So if you are a woman who is determined to start running, here are some great tips that will hopefully get you on your way.

obsessed is ...


Running Tip for Women #1: The Best Running Gear


Now, when you are just starting out, I would not advocate buying all the most expensive running gear and apparel straight away. Make do with what you have got and what your budget allows. However, there is definitely some apparel that will make your running way more comfortable. These are:

1. Sports bra - You must wear a good sports bra when running. I am not going to prescribe models, it very often comes down to personal preference, with a bit of trial and error along the way. Aim for good support and minimal bounce.

2. Running shoes - If you have "normal" feet then you will most likely find that any pair of runners is good enough for you. But do you have higher arches or flat arches? Or you feel foot pain or pain in the lower legs or knees after only short amounts of running? Then get yourself to a specialised running store and get a pair of running shoes fitted that best suit your feet.

3. Chafing preventing apparel - Women can also be victims of chafing on the inner thighs or arms. Aim for tight fitting, moisture wicking apparel. Some brands have special underwear and shorts that help reduce or avoid chafing.

Running Tip for Women #2: Core Exercises and Strength and Conditioning


The second tip is to do exercises that will strengthen your core. When running, your pelvis should be in a balanced position so it can effectively distribute the force between your legs.

A strong core is very important to have a good running technique.

This in turn will make it a lot less likely you'll get running injuries.

And with a strong core you will run faster as well.

Yoga or Pilates, or a range of core exercises a few times a week will be a big help.

By the way, don't believe that core exercises will magically turn your tummy fat into stomach muscle.

That's not exactly how it works.

In order to get that tummy flatter we need to combine exercise with a healthy diet...

Running Tip for Women #3: Healthy Diet


Many women start running in order to lose weight and look better. Doing exercise like running is a good start. But what you also need to do is to follow a healthy diet.

running tips for women

If you are running to lose weight, you must always keep your diet in check.

Running and exercising but not getting results?

Then you need to reconsider what and how much you are eating.

As we get older, our metabolism starts working slower and slower.

This simply means that our tummies are full earlier and we should eat less.

In addition the Western diet has become very dependent on sugar and carbohydrates.

Just doing something as simple as cutting out all food that has more than 10% sugar (10 grams per 100 grams) can make a huge difference. 

Note: this cuts out all cookies, candy, sodas, sports drinks, etc, but also fruit juices, sugary cereals and other foods.

You'd be amazed about the many, many foods on our supermarket shelves that are advertised as healthy that have stacks full of sugar in them.

Unsure about how much you are eating? Use a calorie tracker program on the internet to keep track of what you are eating. I have done it myself and it is a real eye-opener!

The running for weight loss section may also help you out further.

Running Tips for Women #4: Strength Training


Previously we already covered the importance of a strong core. It's that important that I decided to cover it off on its own.

But in addition to that, in order to support your running and not fall victim to injury, I would really like to encourage you to do some resistance / strength training as well.

Sports science has progressed a lot over the years. Where in the past I would have told you to do many reps with lower weight, we now understand that there is actually a lot of benefits in doing weight training with heavier weights and lower reps (5-8).

Don't worry about bulking up! When you are running, it is very hard for the body to bulk up. Bulking up requires heavy strength training, eating massive amounts of protein and virtually no cardio. But when you are running and doing strength training your muscles will get strong and you will get some definition in your arms and legs, without looking like The Hulk.

Check out the Strength Training for Runners page for further info on strength training including the strength training I do.

running tips for women

We have gotten through four tips already, and I haven't even started talking about running.

Let's rectify that now.

Running Tips for Women #5: Starting to Run


When you are starting out, there are some key things that I'd like you to consider.

Start slowly
A mistake that many of us make when starting out to run is to go hell for leather every run. Somehow we have ingrained in our heads that running needs to be tough. So, we run quite fast. Making running very difficult. After only a couple of minutes. The key thing about running is that most of your running needs to be at an easy pace. Easy pace is the pace at which you are able to have a conversation with somebody.

Build up sensibly
The big reason why many people stop running is because of injuries. You really do not need to get injured to be a runner. A problem I often see when people are starting out is that they want "too much, too soon". They want to build up too much. They want to go from couch to marathon in six months. That's generally, a recipe for disaster.

Check out the increasing mileage safely page to learn more about how to build up your running.

It is OK to walk
A thing that may stop you from starting to run is that you cannot run very far. That's ok. When you are starting to run it is absolutely fine to walk as well. I have helped plenty of people at the start of their running journey through my beginner running programs. They are the smart, easy way to start your running career.

Running Tips for Women #6: Iron


Women, more than men, have to deal with hormonal and mineral imbalances. One of the issues that has impacted plenty of women in my life and women I run with is low iron. A periodic blood check to make sure your iron levels and other vital minerals are all at the right levels can help detect problems. It can also help be a preventative tool. A lady I know who deals with low iron levels all the time and regularly gets iron transfusions, does very regular blood checks so that she can see the iron markers decrease and be ahead of the game, minimising the time she feels low in energy.

Running Tips for Women #7: Periods


As a man writing this article I am very conscious that I have very little licence to be writing about women and their periods. But it needs to be talked about. There are virtually no running programs around that take into account the monthly cycle and are optimised for it. In absence of them, you are going to have to make your own adjustments based on how you know your energy and ability levels fluctuate across the month. So, cut yourself some slack during the tougher weeks and swap out a workout for an easier day or rest day. Or move your workouts around from the start of the week to the end of the week, or from one week to the next. Depending on what you need.


Running Tips for Women #8: Technique


Another issue that impacts women more than men, in my experience, is that of needing to make subtle changes to your running technique. What I have observed more in women than in men, especially as the hips are a little rounder, is a tendency to swing your arms more across the body than along the body.

What you like to do is to swing your arms backward and forward. You may move them slightly inward as you swing them forward, but your arms should stay on their own side of their body, not crossing the midpoint.

Draw an imaginary line from the bottom of your chin to your belly button. You don't want your arms crossing that line.

Why?
Well, running is a forward motion. We want our body to move forward. Including the arms. You are wasting energy otherwise. Additionally, rotating the arms too much will in turn impact your hips turning too much. Which is another source of inefficiency. But it can also be a cause of injury.

Next time you are running, try to pay some attention to it. Are you arms moving forward along your body, or are you moving them more sideways? Making some simple adjustments to your arm movement, can really do wonders to your running technique..

That's about it. I could give you another 1,000 running tips.

But a lot of this advice applies to men and women equally.

So, I'd advice you to browse through this site and find your next page below.

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