Running is a wonderful exercise. You can go for a leisurely run in the morning to ensure you get the necessary physical activity for the day. At the same time, running can be an exciting and challenging endeavor. If you’re the type who craves adventure, running is perfect as there is always a new challenge waiting. Whether you want to increase your speed or have enough endurance for longer distances, there are ways to improve your running performance.
What Is Running Performance?
Running performance means different things for different runners. For sprinters, it means running faster; for distance runners, it means longer endurance. However, those goals boil down to running economy. Running economy is the core of your running performance. It refers to your efficiency at converting your oxygen consumption into movement. While your body’s energy consumption is dependent on your biology, there are other factors you can work on to improve your running performance.
5 Ways To Improve Your Running Performance
If you want to achieve your personal running goals or simply push your limits, try these 5 tips for improving your running performance.
Perfect Your Form
Running in proper form is the key to better overall performance. The correct running form constitutes postures and movements that work with the laws of nature to improve your running efficiency. At first, these forms may feel awkward and uncomfortable because most runners don’t hear about them until later on. However, there are various running form drills that you can incorporate into your training.
Form drills are necessary for runners, especially for beginners, because they allow you to isolate the movement from running. The repetitive practice of these forms allows your muscles to be familiar with them, so they become a habit. With frequent form drills, you will find it much easier to apply these forms while you run.
Perform Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises
While the common perception is that runners need to be highly flexible, the truth is that they don’t. A 2010 study showed that high flexibility leads to lower running economy and that runners only need to have mid-level flexibility. However, runners need to focus on other aspects such as hip extension, glute strength, and ankle mobility. Achieving the ideal strength and range of motion in these aspects contributes to better running performance.
Instead of static stretching, runners are advised to engage in dynamic warm-up exercises that target the aspects mentioned. These exercises include lunges, high-knee skips, sideway leg swings, and squats. These exercises can help you become a more efficient runner.
Sprints are indeed all about speed; however, when you add the resistance offered by hills, they become so much more. Hill sprints are beneficial for all types of runners. They are the key to improving your strength, speed, and power—all of which are necessary to improve running performance. This type of exercise can also help you avoid mishaps while working out because it helps strengthen your entire body.
Hill sprints work best when done after an easy run, and they’re straightforward: you simply find a steep hill and run as fast as you can upward for 8 to 10 seconds. Make sure to engage your core and take long strides. Then, walk back down. Repeat these steps 4 to 8 times. You will find your heart racing after this exercise, so don’t forget to cool down by walking for at least 90 seconds.
Try Fartlek Or Speed Play
“Fartlek” is a Swedish word that means “speed play.” This involves altering your speed, jogging then sprinting, during your long-distance run. This is a great way to build up your flexibility as a runner or your ability to adjust to different surfaces without risking discomfort or overexertion.
As suggested by its name, there is no specific way to do this exercise. You can play with different intensities and intervals throughout your run. You also have the freedom to dictate your speed, so you don’t have to jog and sprint at all times. Listen to what your body needs.
Get Enough Rest
The significance of rest in running cannot be emphasized enough. You need to give your body sufficient time to relax and recover from the intense activity that is running. Rest allows your muscles to be stronger than they were yesterday. You need to keep in mind, however, that rest does not only mean lying down. There are two types of rest you need to take advantage of if you want to improve your running performance.
Passive recovery is taking a day of not doing any physical activity. This allows the muscles to completely rest and recover from previous physical exertion. Passive recovery provides you with a window to mentally recover as well. One great use of a passive rest day is by getting a massage or having a muscle soak with a rejuvenating Epsom bath salt, such as the Athlete Bath Soak.
Meanwhile, active recovery involves a less strenuous physical activity. This usually means easier or less intense exercises such as a short run to allow your body to recover without reducing your ability levels. Active recovery is a great opportunity to improve your skills and keep your running form in check.
Both of these types of rest are important in any training. A good balance of rest and running is what you need to improve your running performance.