Tuesday, May 21, 2019

10 Ways to Improve Your Running Without Having to Add More Miles

Welcome to this short article on running performance improvement. All of the techniques can be applied to your existing running program quickly and simply. We are always interested in hearing from runners who have applied one or more of the techniques below. Please email us with your results and experiences (good and bad!).

How to use this Article

The best way is to quickly skin through all 10 suggestions for running improvement. Some of them will seem to make sense and some will not appeal to you. We would suggest that you select one or two techniques and do a little research using Google to get better informed as to how you could apply them to your own circumstances. There are also detailed guides on our website that include research findings and case studies. Good luck with you running improvement.

1. Build a Foundation: A lot of runners make the mistake of trying to continuously beat their times every time they complete a training run. The set themselves a route of say 3 miles. The first run takes them 30 minutes. The nest time they complete the same route they expect to beat this time. Often because they are new runners, the first 2 or 3 times they manage this. However each time they run, it becomes harder and harder resulting in injury, reduced motivation or even giving up.

If you take the time to build a proper fitness foundation by making most of your runs slow & steady your body has the chance to adapt to running. Each run will become easier as your body's systems become acclimatised. You will be less likely to get injured and you can relax and enjoy running knowing that your fitness is improving and you do not need a personal best to prove it. A fitness foundation can be built up over 6-12 weeks. When this foundation is in place you can then incorporated advanced running techniques such as puzzles, hills and races.

2. Change of Scenery: Changing your running route regularly will keep the running experience fresh and more interesting. New running routes get your attention away from the effort of running and towards the enjoyment of the experience. It is really convenient to be able to run from your front door without having to drive. I can do 4 completely different routes from my front garden yet even these can become monotonous after only a few months. Combine your running with exploring where you live. Are there attractions, monuments, lakes, rivers or buildings that you want to see but never have the time? Plan a running route to, from or past the attraction.

Sometimes the inconvenience of a short car ride of a few miles can open up a whole new world of beautiful, breathtaking, scenic runs. TIP: Remember to think about where you will store your car keys during your run. I have a zipped pocket on the back of my shorts which is ideal for this.

3. Music: Using a portable music player while running can help improve your running experience. The distraction of listening to music you enjoy can make running seam easier. Time seems to pass quicker and you feel more upbeat and energetic. New technology such as MP3 players allow you to take a wide range of music with you. You can even make up your own playlist for different distances (faster music for short distance and slower music for long slow runs). You can even download music which has a certain number of beats per minute that you can use to match the pace you run at.

4. Social Running: Some people prefer to run alone, allowing themselves time to be with their own thoughts. Running alone may be more spiritual but you could be missing out on the many benefits of group running. A friendly running club or running partner with make running a more social pastime, you can share stories, goals or even worries (running related or not).

Running with other people is like having your own portable cheer leaders helping you through some of the harder parts of your work out. A little friendly competition may also bring out better performance. Like music other people provide a distraction from running effort and make the time and distance pass quicker. You also get the added benefits of safety in numbers.

5. Water: Dehydration is a threat for all runners. Losing water through sweat and breathing must be replaced in order to stay hydrated. Dehydration can happen both in hot and cold weather. Even experienced runners get this wrong and vastly underestimate the amount of water they need to replenish while running longer distances.

Dehydration can catch you unawares. If you do not replace lost fluid you performance will begin to suffer. If you start to feel thirsty then you are already dehydrated. You can lose 3-4 pounds of water per hour when running and this causes a decrease in performance of about 6%. Over a long race like a marathon a poor hydration strategy could reduce your performance by up to 15%.

Make an effort to drink enough fluid before training runs and races. It takes time for your body to absorb fluid so try drinking about 0.5l (approx 1 pint) a few hours before you run.

6. Recovery: Running places huge stresses and strains on the body. Muscle cells are physically damaged during training. This trauma can cause soreness and even injury. If your body is given the chance it can repair the muscle damage making them stronger.

After completing a workout or race it is a good idea to do keep moving by walking for 5 to 10 minutes. This will help to reduce the build up of lactic acid which causes painful muscles and inhibits recovery. Some gentle stretching also helps remove metabolic waste. Make sure that you drink some water and eat some food. This will help you to rehydrate and promote muscle replenishment and cell repair.

7. Lose Some Weight: Carrying excess body weight can put additional stresses on your joints and cardiovascular system when running. Studies have shown that losing weight can boost running speed.

For each pound of excess weight you lose you could increase your speed by 2 seconds per mile. It might not seem a lot but one person I was coaching lost 60 pounds over 9 months and their half marathon time went from 1 hour 58 minutes to 1 hour 37minutes!

8. Breathing: You might think that breathing is a natural process and our bodies will adapt our breathing to suit the intensity of exercise we are doing. If we have poor breathing technique when we are not running then the chances are we will be using the same poor breathing (only faster) when we are running.

Many new runners are misinformed and believe that you should breathe only through your nose while running. Effective breathing while running means getting in sufficient oxygen to power your body through an intensive workout. The only way to do this is by taking in large, deep breaths through your nose and mouth. Do not wait until you have run for a few miles before you start deeper breathing, the sooner you start the better your body will be oxygenated. If you can get into a good rhythm of breathing that matches your strides it will make it easier to breath enough and in the right quantity. When you breathe out try making a panting noise. This helps you to take lager breaths and align your breathing with your steps.

9. Visualization: Many athletes use visualization techniques prior to a running event. It can help to reduce anxiety and provide focus. I believe that visualization can be used more often and will help you get better results.

Before each training running take a few minutes to relax and take a few deep breaths. If possible close your eyes and think about what you are trying to achieve with your training. What is your end goal (a half marathon in less than 2 hours) and how is this run going to assist you in getting there? Think about the type of training you are doing and what the benefits will be eg long run to build stamina and just before you leave picture yourself running smoothly and effortlessly. During your run you can also think about your running technique and imagine what it will be like beating your target.

10. Posture: There are many conflicting articles and research about what is the right and wrong posture for running. Some articles argument about straight backs while others draft ruling forward or even both. What works best is getting the basics right so that you run in an efficient way without having to think too much about it.

Focus your eyes straight on the horizon rather than on the ground, this will keep your head in a good position and make it more comfortable to run. Allow your shoulders to be hang low and loose, there is a tension to tense up as you become tired and this makes running more difficult. Imagine there is a string attached to your belly button pulling you along the road, this will help to keep your hips and pelvis in the most effective running position.

Source by Robert Surgener

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