I am not a great runner, but I find myself signing up to run 5K road races all the time — I get sucked in for the cause of the race, and then hate myself when the running part happens telling myself I am never signing up to run again. I figured since I was on the cross-country team in high-school, and that running is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, I can do it with ease. Wrong.

My neck and shoulders always hurt when I run – I end up just rotating my head from side to side to get the kink out and continue running. I lose my breath so quickly and don’t get it because I eat healthy and exercise on the reg!  Now that I have a very energetic dog and a very active fiancé that take me on trail runs (we have a reservation about 4 minutes from our house, it would be a shame not to utilize all the trails),  I decided I would actually learn how to run. 

Back story: When I was in Poland last month, my uncle (who is a renowned surgeon) came over to me and put his hand on my back telling me to stand up straight. Uh, I thought I was standing up straight? I have tried to be more observant of my posture and constantly find myself adjusting and cracking my back.  

Check back next week for a post about what to be looking for when evaluating your posture.

So to learn how to run properly,  I first focused on 2 things that instantaneously changed how I felt when running: posture & breathing.

Proper Running Posture Tips:

  • Hold your head high, centered between your shoulders, and your back straight. I focus on keeping my chest out and tightening my abs (or sucking in your stomach). This will give your back that straight line.
  • Focus your gaze in front of you. This can be hard when you are running on rocky trails, and want to see where you are stepping. Glance down every so often so you do not run into a rock tree stump (it happens a lot!) but generally speaking focus your gaze about 30 yards in front of you.  Looking down when running could lead to that strain on your neck muscles and spine.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and parallel to the ground.  Your shoulders should hang loosely with a slight forward roll for optimal relaxation. Several times during my run, I have noticed my shoulders rising toward my ears or tensing up, so I just drop my arms and loosely shake them out. 


  • I honestly don’t know if I was breathing during my runs, because now that I focus on my breathing, I feel like…well, that I can breathe!  When I breathe through my mouth (vs. nose), I feel like I get better oxygen to my body.
  • This is something I have learned during these mindfulness courses I have been taking. It will definitely take a conscious effort in the beginning, but that deep abdominal breathing is ideal for running, exercising and meditating!

Back to the title of my post, what’s in my running fanny pack? Running alone (with a dog) in the woods, I need some basic essentials: iPhone: to track my workout on MapMyRun, to have GPS for when I get lost on a new trail, to have the flashlight especially that it gets darker earlier each night, Pepper Spray: coyotes, creepy people, you never know! Dog Poop Bags, IDs, car key, water bottle (love this one from LL Bean because we can both use it), and some dog treats: for re-call practice.

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Do you take anything running with you? What?

Did these tips help you learn to run better!? Please note that these worked for me and that there are many other things to consider when you are running!

share any other tips you have in the comments 🙂



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