Have you hit a plateau with your running? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy.
Not everyone is born a natural speed fiend, but there are certain steps that you can take to improve your game. All you need is time and dedication.
Whether you’re looking to increase your speed or distance, consider the following aspects of your running routine.
Form comes first
“Remember your form” is a phrase that will always be important no matter what kind of exercise you’re doing.
When it comes to running, there are a few important rules you should be following. Firstly, instead of landing on your heel with each stride, aim to land on the midsole of your foot to reduce the impact on your joints. Then, substitute a long stride with shorter, more effective strides – this way you can avoid the energy drain that happens when you extend your movements unnecessarily. Lastly, keep your head up. This will prevent neck strain and encourage your entire body to remain straight as you run.
Start resistance training
Whether it’s pushing a Prowler sled or running with a sled pull, consider upping your resistance. Adding this kind of training increases your power output because you have to work harder to perform a certain move. Then, the stronger you get, the more easily you can perform moves that don’t have the resistance. All of this translates into faster times.
Remember to add in resistance training gradually, adjusting as you get stronger.
Be explosive with plyometrics
Plyometrics are explosive exercises that emphasize speed and strength (this is what makes them such a great complement to your strength training). For runners, consider trying things like power skips, leg bounds or squat jumps. These moves might feel like an exaggerated movement, but your runs will improve for the long-term because plyometrics build stamina.
However, as you’ll be speeding through these moves, remember that form is still paramount. If your posture is sloppy, you risk injuring yourself.
Along with increasing stamina, you should also be working to increase your endurance through interval runs. Though stamina and endurance are similar, the main difference is that endurance refers to maximizing the amount of time your body can perform no matter the capacity of energy; whereas stamina is exclusively referring to maximum capacity.
Break up your long and steady runs with short 10-30 second sprints every few minutes. You can even run intervals alternating between flat land and hills.
Know your stride rate
Your stride rate is how many steps you take a minute. Count the number of strides you hit on one foot for a minute, then double it. An ideal stride rate is around 90 per foot. If you find that you’re less than this, you’re probably taking strides that move too far upward or taking too many breaks. All of this leads to wasted energy, which ultimately slows your progress.
Run more often, but increase speed slowly
Increasing things like your stride rate means that you need to commit yourself to steady work. In other words, do a lot of running, but increase your speed gradually.
If you try to go all out right away, you risk tiring yourself out before you can even make any progress. In the end, you’ll just be adding undue stress to the heart. Instead, set gradual goals for yourself that encourage you to run farther, for longer periods of time. This might not feel like you’re exactly racing to the finish line, but over time your pace will naturally increase.
Invest in the right shoes
There are typically two schools of thought when it comes to running shoes. On one hand, some opt for runners that provide lots of cushioning so that the joints don’t feel the impact of the ground as much. On the other hand, the recommendation is that less is more – barefoot running shoes can actually build strength in the foot muscles so that you don’t need to rely on cushioning.
The bottom line is to listen to your body. Most runners won’t be able to start with barefoot running shoes, but you can most certainly work up to that point. If you feel pain when running, pinpoint where it’s coming from to understand the level of support you need.
While your work to incorporate these tips into your running regimen, record your results. This is the best way to understand what is and isn’t working for you so that you can adjust and get closer to accomplishing your goals.
Run like a pro
Run like a pro with these training tips