Going for a run is probably one of the most popular ways to get your workout on, whether it’s hitting the roads or jumping on a treadmill when the weather’s gross outside. If you sometimes find running a little tedious, why not challenge yourself to go faster or further?
Here are our top tips to smash your run.
To the gym
Weight training could make you a better runner. A Norwegian study found that resistance training three times a week for eight weeks significantly improved running efficiency and endurance in well-trained, long-distance runners.
Want to conquer the hills? To race uphill, run with a short stride while pushing off the balls of your feet and pumping your arms. Then relax your arms and use a longer stride to go downhill.
Ready, set, splash!
Getting wet could make you a better runner. Swimming increases your upper body strength, making your runs more efficient, while aqua jogging mimics your usual movement sans impact – reducing the risk of injury.
‘Watch your stance when running,’ tips Fitness First trainer Andy Hall. ‘Leaping forward and striding too far will drain your energy fast. Instead, make sure you stand tall and lean slightly forward, so when you feel like you’re going to fall, you step forward just enough to catch yourself. This should be the length of your stride.’
Listen to your body! If you’re feeling under the weather or if your body is sore and ready for a rest, take a recovery day. Only you know if those aches and pains are from a good run or the sign you need to rest.
Here’s a good excuse to book a beach getaway – running on sand can improve your speed and muscle tone. A study from St Luke’s University Clinic in Belgium found that pounding the sand requires 1.6 times more energy than running on pavements as your body has to work harder to deal with the soft, unstable surface. That adds up to more defined muscles and a swifter run when you get back to solid ground. Neat!
Hydration is key for runners, but plain old water is best if you’re only doing short runs. Upgrade to a sports drink if you’re running for longer than an hour to help shuttle glucose to your muscles and combat fatigue.
Play it safe Protect yourself – the great outdoors brings potential hazards:
Navigate new destinations Make use of online running forums and social media groups to discover popular routes. Clearly defined, well-lit roads are a must when running in the dark, and remember there’s safety in numbers. Recruit a running buddy or join a club to improve your technique with like-minded enthusiasts – it’s way more fun than going solo!
Ditch your headphones An uplifting playlist can send motivation soaring, but when you’re running outside you need to be aware of your surroundings so you can rely on your senses when you need them. Save the tunes for your indoor workout and shift your attention to your breathing and form – or if you feel you really can’t run without music just keep the volume low.
Check the forecast We all know the British weather is unpredictable. It’s worth checking the forecast before you lace up so you don’t get caught in heavy rain that could hamper your performance and increase your risk of injury.