Better running isn’t simply a matter of running faster or for a longer period. While every runner would like to improve their abilities, knowing how to actually get better can be trickier. Here are six good ways to become a stronger, more effective runner, outside of simply running harder.
1. Get enough sleep. Just like the brain, the body can’t perform at its best without proper rest. Runners who receive quality rest will always have an advantage over those with bad sleep habits. Good sleep is also one of the secrets to steering clear of injury and recovering from exertion since the body does most of its natural recuperation work during sleep.
2. Stretch. The more a set of muscles are worked and put under stress, the more they need to be stretched out. Otherwise, joints and muscles will only become tighter, resulting in pain, impingement, and reduced performance. Luckily, there are many different effective stretching modalities available. Among these are systems of organized stretching such as taichi or yoga, as well as the simple use of a foam roller.
3. Cross-train. Cross-training is crucial to developing resistance to injury and increasing overall athletic skills Concentrating on running alone is likely to result
in over training, which can trigger strains and other problems. Cross training is a good way to strengthen muscles that, while they may be involved in running, are
not sufficiently challenged by the exercise. For example, focusing on strength training for areas like the core and upper back is a good idea.
4. Eat well. In general, a healthy diet is an aid to any kind of serious exertion. Strong performance in every exercise depends upon a nutritious, balanced diet. When it comes to running specifically, meals should be consumed between one and three hours before a workout begins, so as to avoid cramping. Pre-running meals should be built around carbohydrates, which are used as fuel by the body. These meals should also be easy to digest.
5. Hydrate properly. Cramps fatigue, and poor performance in general can all be directly caused by dehydration. Runners should avoid trouble by consuming plenty of water both before and during a run. Sports energy drinks (such as Gatorade and Powerade) are a good way to also regain the electrolytes inevitably lost due to sweat.
6. Get proper footwear. Some runners assume that any old pair of sneakers will do just fine for running. This is a mistake. Not only will the wrong shoes hamper performance, but they can also increase the odds of many different kinds of injury. The best way for a runner to ensure that they have the right footwear is to pay a visit to a running shoe store.
Paradoxically, better running doesn’t necessarily have all that much to do with running itself. Oftentimes, as the above list shows, the key to better running is a matter of what you do when you aren’t out hitting the pavement. Anyone looking to become a better runner will benefit from following these tips