This gorgeous summer we are having in London right now is the perfect climate for runners to rack up some serious mileage! If you’re new to running or simply want to improve your technique, here are 5 tips that will help you run better and faster!
Vary your runs
The body gets used to a routine very quickly. If you do the same run day after day or week after week you will eventually reach a plateau whereby you will stop improving. By varying either the time or distance of your run you will stimulate the body into change for the better. Here are a few suggestions – Interval runs, hill sprints, long slow distance (ideal for the weekends to get ‘miles in the bank’), 10k and 5k time trials. A good way of gauging improvement is the ‘beat me back’; Depending on your ability and goals, run a set route, and either half way or a set time in turn around, and retrace your steps to the start aiming to get back quicker than the halfway mark.
Strengthen the core
You can’t run your best without a strong core. The core is essentially the deep stomach muscles, the lower back and glutes. They provide the stability, power, and endurance that runners need for powering up hills, sprinting to the finish, and maintaining efficient form mile after mile. A strong core reduces inefficient hip sway and will make you feel more fluid and efficient when running or walking. Pilates is a great way to improve the strength and stability of your core muscles. If you’re not already a reformer convert, read our article about the benefits of Pilates!
Running is a high impact activity. Too much running can have a negative effect on the joints. It is therefore important to vary your training. As a rule, we recommend running no more than three times a week. This can be supplemented by other cardiovascular forms of exercise such as the cross-trainer, swimming and cycling. These activities will challenge your endurance and compliment your running without overstressing the joints.
Increase your stride length
Most people run with too short a stride. A longer stride will give you a greater efficiency, as your pace decreases the more time your foot is spent on the ground. It will also encourage a greater use of the arms which will help with speed. One way to improve stride length is to increase flexibility (specifically the hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes and quadriceps), which will give you a greater range of motion. Another method of improving your stride length is to run uphill. Doing so strengthens important muscles that help power the body farther and longer with each step forward.
Wear the correct shoes
It is very important to wear the correct footwear when running. The right pair of shoes can make all the difference if you want to run better. The repetitive nature of running increases the risk of potential injuries. Specialist shoe shops can recommend a specific type of shoe based upon the unique features of your feet. Often they will analyse your gait either on a treadmill or by watching you run. You can then train knowing that you are running with the correct foot alignment and that your chances of injury are greatly decreased. We recommend Asics if you have really unstable ankles and Nike and APL for those with more of a neutral gate.
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