They’ll make you a better runner instantly!
Many of the easiest ways to improve your performance on the roads have very little to do with running itself. If you feel as if you’re plateauing or burning out, it may be time to look beyond the miles you’re logging weekly. Running at an optimal level means training hard and smart. To run wisely, you must account for all aspects of your health as you navigate training.
Today we’ll look at five ways you can subtly improve your training by looking beyond the bounds of your footstrike. If every runner would follow these tips, there would be much less injury and burnout in this sport. Fortunately, these principles are fairly simple and intuitive to implement into your life. All you have to do is stick with them and make them a part of who you are!
Easy running tips that make all the difference.
As always, please check in with your health provider if you have any complications such as severe injuries or chronic diseases. These strategies will still likely apply to your situation, but it’s always a good idea to do your due diligence and ensure you’re in a place to be running in the first place. If you want to find success in your running journey, you must start on the right foot and build on that foundation slowly.
Want to maximize the success of that journey? Follow these five steps! In no particular order…
1) Sleep is the only way to truly recover.
This may just be the most important point on the list. Not only is adequate sleep necessary for full recovery from a workout, but it’s a prerequisite for optimal functioning. No one can go less than 6–7 hours of sleep and be the best version of themselves. It’s that simple. This is true from both a physical and psychological perspective. This fact is only elevated when we think of the demands placed on our bodies as we train for distance running.
There is no better medicine than giving your body a full night of rest. Ideally, adults should be striving for 7–9 hours every night. If you have to choose between squeezing in a training session and getting a full night’s sleep, please pick the latter. Ideally, we should be striving to schedule in training so neither need to be compromised.
“Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day.” — Matthew Walker
2) Strength & mobility training is necessary for optimal running.
Two of the best things you can do for your running from an injury-prevention perspective are strength and mobility training. The most frequent running injuries are overuse ones. Virtually all of these can be erased if we just committed a little time to enhance the strength, stability, and mobility of our tissues (along with adjusting the running volume of course).
Even 10–15 minutes per week of this focused training can alter the trajectory of your running. For whatever reason, runners love to forgo all other forms of training and focus solely on their sport. While this may sound impressive, it is inefficient and straight-up dangerous in the long term. If you want to run for life, start exploring other modalities of training in the process!
3) Your shoes matter more than you think.
For whatever reason, many new runners think they can get away with training without proper footwear. This is a mistake. Even if you only train 1–2 days per week, bite the bullet and invest in a good pair of runners. The key here is to find the shoe that’s right for you. Go to a specialty running store and request a gait analysis. There are many types out there (neutral shoe, stability shoe, trail shoe, etc.) so ensure you put in the extra time to find the one built best for your anatomy and event.
Another common issue is forgoing timely replacements of footwear. As a general rule of thumb, replace your shoes every 300–400 miles, or when they start to feel worn down. If you’re experiencing unusual aches and pains after a run, it could be due to faulty footwear. Yes, maintaining proper running equipment can become pricy, but it’s well worth it as you’ll be setting yourself up for success right off the bat.
This point is important for all to hear, but it’s especially critical for those with flat feet, excessive pronation, bunions, and more. The reality is, some of us are set up for success more than others when it comes to foot anatomy. If you’re aware of any of these complications, don’t stop searching for a shoe until you’re content with how it feels. Sometimes this means investing in other products such as toe separators, customized insoles, and more.
4) Always view your training as a marathon.
One of the most frequent errors in running is athletes progressing too quickly. Although it may be a slight oversimplification, you should always follow the 10% rule. This rule states that you should never increase your distance, pace, or overall intensity by more than 10% per week. This goes for general training and also when coming off an injury.
If you’re fresh off a back strain or are brand new to running, don’t be afraid to start with a walk/run program. At the very beginning stages, start with a 1 minute on, 1 minute off cycle and repeat for 3–5 bouts. As you feel better, you can gradually increase the duration of your run periods. For example, (1:1, 2:2, 5:3, 10:4, etc.). Start by doing this walk/run strategy 2–3 times per week. If you keep this up and commit to pacing yourself, you can get up to running pain-free for 20min+ in a matter of weeks.
This is all about playing the long game!
5) Respect your overall health above everything.
Running, especially of the distance variety, is a ruthless sport. With the hundreds of miles of training comes a ton of baggage. For those who are balancing training with work, family, and all of life’s stressors, please don’t forget to take care of yourself. Simply put, you must take into account both the physical and mental/psychological stressors in your life and adjust your training accordingly.
Never be ashamed to slow down your training when life gets hectic. Many injuries can be linked to emotional and psychological stressors/traumas, so you’re doing yourself a favor to lower your volume during these rocky seasons. At the end of the day, you’re human like the rest of us. Training should be an important part of your life, but it isn’t everything.
Respect your ecosystem.
Being a dedicated runner comes with many challenges. To overcome them while maintaining optimal performance, you must think beyond the boundaries of running itself. Take care of your body. Sleep more than you think. Invest in equipment that will support you. If you can follow the tips above closely, you’ll be far more likely to hit your goals while averting injuries and burnout. On a deeper level, you’ll be a healthier and happier athlete moving forward.
Don’t let another day go by without enhancing your running!
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