It‘s easy to fall into a routine with your running and not really think about changing things up, but this could mean you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to improve. While there‘s plenty you can do mid-run, did you know that you can also boost your technique off the track? Here‘s our best advice to help you run further, faster and harder.
Just running is fine. But you won't truly see performance improvements unless you supplement your running with bodyweight training. Why? Well, it’s long been proven that mixing bodyweight training and running is a winning combination. A stronger runner will run more efficiently, have increased muscular endurance and is less likely to become injured. Keeping your training program varied also means that more calories are burnt, more muscle groups are used and recovery is a lot less painful.
Your morning cup of tea or coffee doesn‘t just give you a boost for the office – it‘s also a great way to energize your run. Drinking a caffeinated beverage first thing in the morning can help fuel you best performance, so you‘ll be faster and stronger, not to mention more alert, energetic, and attentive. Sound pretty good? Caffeine can also give you that necessary energy kick you need at the crucial point of your workout to keep exhaustion at bay.
There‘s nothing worse than feeling completely drained mid-run, but this can be avoided by fueling yourself right. Food high in complex carbs (think oatmeal and whole grain pasta) are a great choice, since they raise your glycogen levels which provides energy and delays the onset of fatigue. Carb loading is particularly important in marathon training. When your body‘s carbohydrate stores are depleted, it turns to using muscle for energy, which slows you down.
Walk like a runner
Treat every step as an opportunity to improve your running technique. When you walk, try to foster an awareness of how your foot hits the ground. Keep in mind where your foot lands in relation to the rest of your body. Ideally your foot should make contact with the ground directly underneath your body, rather than far out in front of it. When there‘s a straight line from your hips to where your foot lands, it reduces the impact on your legs and cuts your risk of injury.
If you‘re an early morning runner, clocking in early to bed is absolutely essential. Apart from improving performance, being well-rested can reduce inflammation and speed up the healing time when you‘re injured. But sleep (or lack of) doesn‘t just effect your body, it also has a huge impact on your mind. Motivation is directly linked to your level of restedness, so if you make sleep a priority, you‘ll be more likely to stick to your goals.
Catch your breath
Breathing seems pretty straightforward right? The only time it becomes difficult is at the end of a run, when we find ourselves huffing and puffing to finish the last few hundred meters. That’s because improper breathing is the number one mistake made by inexperienced runners. The good news is that anyone can improve their breathing with some basic awareness. Make sure you spend as much time on the exhale as on the inhale – as many athletes tend to inhale deeper which prevents your body from expelling all the CO2 in your lungs. The more you practice your breathing, the greater control you‘ll have over it in the long run.
Stretch it out
Stretching every morning will help safeguard your most-used running muscles from injury. Regular stretching increases flexibility and range of motion, which allows for a longer stride and better circulation. Focus on stretching your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calf muscles.
Remember, what you do off the track is just as important as what you do on it. There are no days off on your journey to greatness. Stay focused. Keep improving. Succeed.