Running is something that has been around for millions of years. Ancient civilizations utilized runners as messengers and running at one point was an essential component of human survival. Today, however, running is not something that people do out of necessity but rather to help fuel a healthy lifestyle and provide much-needed endorphins. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and almost anyone is able to participate.
There are many sports and physical activities that you can “master,” but running simply is not one of them. There are so many different aspects of running and ways you can push yourself to be better. You may have the fastest 100-meter sprint, but are you the fastest long-distance runner on race day? The point is that when it comes to running, there is always room for improvement and becoming better.
Below is a closer look at ways you can improve your running. Whether you are a beginner heading out for an easy run or have been running for years, hopefully, this article will provide you with some helpful running tips to elevate your run and get the absolute most out of your abilities.
Mentally improve your running abilities
Running is largely thought of as a physical sport, and while it is certainly important to train and condition your body for longer runs, there is also a large mental component to running at any level. As you progress in running, you are more likely to run into what is known as the wall. The wall is a figurative roadblock that hinders your ability to progress at the same rate you were previously.
An example of hitting a roadblock would be that you are consistently improving your time per mile every month, but then you run into a period of time where you simply aren’t improving your time anymore and it seems like nothing you can do will get you to improve from there. Many people just accept this as their limit, but the reality is that many people can push past this with enough dedication.
Below is a closer look at some ways you can mentally improve your running, which can drastically improve your physical ability!
One of the best tools to get you past any hardship you experience in your running career is to utilize visualization techniques. Specifically, imagining yourself crossing the finish line or attaining your goal can help you to power through and push yourself to your full potential.
Visualization is particularly helpful for runners who aspire to complete their first marathon or other difficult goals. These goals require countless hours of training and running, which can become monotonous and uninspiring over time.
Narrowing in on your goal and visualizing your own success before each run can keep you motivated and pushing yourself to achieve longer distances or better times.
Another mental strategy you can utilize is to intentionally plan runs in unpleasant conditions. If you are planning to run a half marathon in the future, there is no telling what conditions you may be running in.
By intentionally training in poor conditions once in a while you will be better prepared for the rain or cold to not get you down. An added bonus is that if the weather ends up being perfect, then you will have a much easier time and find it all the more enjoyable and easy.
The best runners out there have made running an integral part of their day. As a result, they simply warm up, and go on a run out of habit without needing to convince themselves to do so. Creating running as a habit can have an immense amount of positive impact on your training and progression.
Habits are not created overnight and require an immense level of consistency and willpower to create. Research indicates that it takes on average of 66 days to create a new habit, and for some, this can be much longer. Once established, a running habit can make training easier and can help you progress and rack up a higher weekly mileage.
Find like-minded people
Another way you can improve your running is to incorporate a social component into it. Joining a running club or spending time with other runners can be one of the most helpful tools to improve your running.
A running group can help you in many ways, ranging from acting as a wealth of knowledge on technique or as a means of keeping you accountable. Sharing your running journey with others can also make the activity more fun as you make new friends and enjoy the great outdoors.
Physically improve your running
For beginners, the best way to progress is to rack up as much mileage as you can, but as you transition to longer and faster runs, you will need to make a number of changes to your training sessions, including focusing on building up muscle groups that will help you to become a better runner.
There are countless ways that you can improve your running through training, and for this reason, many runners elect to have a running coach create a tailored training program to elevate their running ability. Professional assistance and training is always a good option, but sometimes hiring a trainer isn’t in the cards for some new runners.
Below is a closer look at some ideal ways you can improve your running stamina and improve your strength to improve your running abilities.
Strengthen your feet
When you run, the first part of your body that makes contact with the ground is the foot. When most people train for running, they focus their attention on the strength training of the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calf muscles. These muscles are important for a large majority of the movements in the running but the smaller muscles in the foot are important in helping to ensure stability and reducing the jarring impacts and soreness that can lead to running injuries, like shin splints and joint problems.
Incorporating foot exercises into your training plan can help to improve your running stability while also helping to reduce your risk of injury like plantar fasciitis or a rolled ankle. These exercises can also focus on your running technique with how your foot lands which can help to make you a more efficient runner.
Cross-training involves implementing workouts and exercises that help to strengthen muscle groups that are complementary to running. Exercises like bodyweight squats, lunges, and situps can help to increase muscular strength in regions that may otherwise take an immense amount of time to build up through running alone. Strength training in this way can lead to overall improvements in running ability.
Additionally, you can also integrate other cardio exercises that utilize separate muscles to run to help increase your stamina and improve your cardiovascular efficiency.
Improve VO2 Max
If you ask any seasoned runner about VO2 Max, they will likely know everything there is to know about it. For individuals who are not familiar, VO2 Max refers to the max volume of oxygen you are able to utilize when working out. The higher your VO2 Max, the more efficient your cardiovascular system is at delivering oxygen to your tissues, which can make it easier to run.
One of the best ways you can increase your VO2 Max is through High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This form of training involves short bursts of all-out effort followed by short break periods.
In the running community, this is referred to as speed work, and it essentially involves adding periods of sprinting throughout your run. Doing speed work can not only improve your running speeds, but it can be a huge help in long-distance running as it can help to improve your aerobic capacity.
Nutrition for running
Running utilizes an immense amount of resources from the body. Not only does the body need to constantly supply oxygen to the muscle fibers, but it also needs to deliver energy to each individual muscle in an efficient manner. Below is a closer look at ways you can improve your nutrition for running.
As stated previously, the body requires an immense amount of resources when you are running. You need to stay hydrated to ensure you can maintain a stable body temperature. Your muscles need carbs to fuel them. You still need to have enough water to help eliminate the waste products created by the muscles. You also need to have the nutritional requirements to help with recovery which includes protein.
Taking the time to get your body adequately prepared with enough carbohydrates and hydration can really up your running game.
Getting all of your macros is important, but if these molecules aren’t being utilized as efficiently as they should, you are leaving improvement on the table. The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, and they convert glucose into usable energy for the cells of the body, including your muscles.
MitoQ is a supplement that helps to support optimal mitochondrial functioning, which can then help your body run more efficiently. It may also be able to speed up exercise recovery, contribute to more energy, and result in an overall improvement in feelings of wellbeing.
In summary, running is a journey that has no true end. Even when you are out there finishing first place in marathons, there is always room for improvement.
By taking into account your mental, physical, and nutritional health you can improve your running form and help yourself to become the best runner possible.