Whether you’ve just started pounding the pavement or are training for your next marathon, many runners want to know how to become better at their sport. Improvement is different for everyone.
Some people want to know how to cover more distance, while others want to get faster. However, being an overall better runner involves a few factors which everyone can implement.
Both new runners and experienced ones can improve their workouts with the same tips. Here are some things that you can do to help you become a better runner.
Wear Proper Shoes
Everyone has different feet, so a pair of shoes that one runner loves may not be the best ones for you. Other than feet, various experience levels, goals, and different bodies all affect the type of running shoes that you should wear.
A specialty running store will be able to fit you for proper shoes. Most of these stores will do a gait analysis which shows how your foot strikes the ground. Your feet will either pronate (roll inwards), supinate (roll outwards), or be neutral.
It’s important to get the right shoes for your gait, as improper ones can cause injuries later down the line.
You should also replace your shoes regularly. How often you replace them will vary from person to person. People who log a lot of miles will need to replace their shoes more than beginners.
Be aware of how your shoes feel. If they feel flat, or you start getting more injuries than normal, your shoes probably need replacing. If you’re unsure, a general rule is to get a new pair once you’ve run 300-500 miles in your shoes.
Eat The Right Foods
Before you set out on your run, you need to make sure that your body is fueled for its workout. Low carb diets and fasted workouts are popular now, but most people find that they run easier if they’ve eaten some food before.
However, what you eat or drink depends on how hard you’re going to be running.
People who are running for more than an hour need to have a snack beforehand and take a bottle of water with them. You shouldn’t eat foods that are too heavy, as this could slow you down and make you feel sluggish.
Some toast topped with banana and peanut butter is more than enough, or try yogurt and fruit if you don’t feel hungry.
Always Prioritise Recovery
It’s easy to fall into a trap of either not working out enough, or working out too much. Running every day can be taxing on your body, making it prone to stress and injuries over time. Recovery is essential as your muscles need time to heal.
Make sure that you take rest days every week. You don’t need to be completely sedentary on rest days. You can take a walk, try gentle stretching, or even get a sports massage.
Other than taking time off, there are other things you can do for recovery. These include:
Getting an adequate amount of sleep. Sleep is essential for recovery. In deeper sleep stages, more blood starts flowing to the muscles, helping them repair after a workout.
Eating the right foods after your runs. It can be tempting to reach for the nearest candy bar, but try to resist. Have a meal that contains carbs, protein, and some healthy fat. The protein and carbs will help your muscles recover well, while good fats will keep your heart healthy.
Stretching. Stretching will help your blood flow to any muscles used in your runs. You’ll recover faster from your workout, and also improve your flexibility, which can help you run faster. Just five minutes after your workout can make a big difference.
Lighter running days. It’s great to challenge yourself, but your body can become overworked and tired after a while. Running for longer, but at an easy pace, can be great for your heart health. Your body can recover while staying active.
Switch Your Workouts Up
You can become a better runner by switching up your workouts. There are many different running styles to try, like sprinting, jogging, incline running, or interval training. If you try a variety of these, you won’t get used to one type of running.
Instead, it’ll activate different parts of the body, such as fast-twitch muscles vs slow-twitch, or anaerobic vs aerobic systems. These running styles will become easier to do, meaning that you’ve become a better runner.
Add one day into your workout schedule where you try something different. This can be as simple as increasing the distance of a long run, or trying out intervals or tempo runs for a change.
Do Other Forms Of Training
Becoming a better runner doesn’t mean that you should only run for your workouts. Adding other forms of training will make it easier to run. For example, you could try adding a cross-training day into your workout regime.
Cross-training is any working out style that isn’t your main form of training. This could be anything from bike riding to swimming. Cross-training makes muscles that you don’t normally use stronger. This can help prevent injuries and burnout.
Similarly, strength training is important for runners. A lot of runners tend to ignore resistance training, but this can cause injuries later on. You use your glutes, core, and hips while you run. If they aren’t strong enough, you won’t improve as a runner.
If you’re finding it difficult to implement strength training into your routine, just try 10-20 minutes a few days a week. There are lots of quick videos online that you can do at home before you set out on a run.
If you prefer, you can also do these after your run, so you can spend more time focusing on strength training. A few sessions a week might not seem like a lot, but they can make you stronger in the long run.
Consistency Is Key
This is an important tip, especially for beginners. It takes a lot of time for running to feel like a natural part of your day. You may have been running on and off for years, but if you take large gaps of time off from running, it won’t be easy for you to progress.
If you want to be a better runner, you have to be consistent. It takes months and even years to see your running improve. If you’re an on and off runner, try getting a calendar and check off each day that you go for a run.
Look at your workout schedule and see if you can implement any cross-training or rest days. Remember to try some of our other tips above and see if you feel a difference.