Hi everybody! Today we meet up for a new article on the Digitsole’s blog! We will focus on a regular concern for lots of runners which is: how can they improve their running performances?
But let me warn you first: you won’t progress quickly in running. It takes time. A lot of time. Sometimes, you only see the results after few months of training! Here is my advice: be patient, don’t be disappointed if you don’t see your performances improving after a month or even two. The best way to improve your performances is to stay motivated no matter what and to never give up. Trust me, you can all succeed.
I want to make it clear that what I am going to explain now is not a magic trick that helps making progress quickly. These are some advice and methods that work for a majority of runners and that have been tested more than once. Be strong, you’ll get there!
The key to success: find your ideal stride!
A good stride is key to better running performances. The stride is the way a runner strikes the ground at every step. In fact, it’s the way you run!
First of all, avoid running on your heel, especially on hard surfaces like pavement. When you land on your heel, you stay in contact with the ground longer and your foot carries all your weight, which is bad for your performance. Pay attention to the flight time in order to minimize the contact with the ground. Thus, with a rearfoot stride (the heel hits the ground first), the ground impact can cause long term injuries or trauma (because of shock waves spreading through the joints).
However, if you still want to run rearfoot, you should favour surfaces like grass or soft surfaces, which are less “rigid”. You should also try to shorten your stride: long strides won’t take you further. Little strides enable you to spend less energy and they can “protect” you from joint injuries. It will be less demanding for your joints, which will give them time to strengthen and to be less prone to injuries. Listen to your joints, they will thank you!
You may have understood it, but progressing in running is linked to a forefoot stride (tiptoes hit the ground first). Just like I told you in my previous article, the forefoot stride is the best one for supporting, in particular thanks to the muscles present in the calves. Thus, running in forefoot will highly strengthen your muscles, as they will carry your entire weight.
The footstrike will be then reduce, which will benefit to your joints and your bones, as they will endure less the shock waves, thanks to the elastic energy (which will be stronger in the Achilles tendon and will allow you a better stride). If you want to change your stride, it is possible: you will succeed if you train hard and are motivated. This is also a long term practice, as you’ll see the first results after few months of training: hold on!
Choose a training program adapted to your profile!
Here, we get down to business. In order to improve your running performances, you definitively have to choose a training program, adapted to your profile. To make it short, it has to be individualized. This training is intended to be aligned with your specifics, regarding your physical fitness, your sportiness, your expectations and it has to be based mainly on your own goals. But we will talk later about this.
Choose a solo training at the beginning, in order to check out your running level. To establish the best training, you have to understand what your strengths and your weaknesses are. The main goal is to reinforce your strengths and to improve your weaknesses. Do not hesitate to build some trainings on a specific weakness in order to try to correct it at most. This is what we call “specific training”. This kind of training has for aim to improve a specific point.
Now it’s time to say goodbye to some running world’s clichés, like for example, running fast = a good running. Well…No. Running fast is not necessarily the case. Try to avoid running as fast as you can, especially in you can’t keep pace with that rhythm, as you risk a lack of efficiency.
Finally, never lose sight of your goals: the more you’ll wander, the less you’ll improve yourself.
Plan, manage and optimize your time in order to be committed to each goal. Thus, you’ll be able to see what worked and what should be changed.
Check out your goals!
I know it’s hard to be realistic when thinking about your desired running performances. But try to stick to achievable goals, especially if you are a real beginner: do not always think competition!
Define your objectives. Running 30mn without being breathless is an objective per se. The most important thing is to assimilate bases and to apply them correctly. You can also choose to improve your MAS, your speed, your stamina… It all depends on you! Defining your objectives will help you understand why you train. Thus, you’ll be able to move forward calmly. However, these objectives also depend on your motivation and on your ability to manage them!
Never forget your final goal, your Holy Grail, your Golden Fleece: it will enable you to better plan your training cycles, so that they will be as efficient as possible (an effective training will enable you to improve yourself a little bit in every ability).
Finally, I advise you to go out of your comfort zone, by questioning your running practice habits and to adapt yourself to new challenges. Running is like Pokemon: you have to evolve. Among these challenges, the biggest one will be challenging time. Try to run 30mn and see how many kilometres you covered. The important thing is to run further, at ease as possible while keeping a good intensity. So, put your shoes on as you are now ready for a little running session!
Of course there are some other ways to improve your running, but I chose to spend time on those technics which work and are the most efficient ones. Nevertheless, here are some additional advice:
- Drink, drink, and drink again enough fluid. A bad hydration can lower your performances and make your recovery time less efficient. So, take your bottle and fill it up as soon as it is empty.
- Warm up well: start by running at a speed lower than your session’s one while warming up. Run at your usual speed after 7-10mn. You should favour exercises like heel-to-buttock, lifted knees, side-stepping and bouncing strides to warm up your muscles well. Never forget that the more intensive the training is, the longer the training must be. If you don’t warm up, you highly increase the risk of injury!
- Do not neglect recovery time! It’s during this period that you improve best. During recovery time, you give your body all the tips to run better and to improve yourself considerably. So, have a rest, have a long sleep and hydrate yourself to avoid soreness.
If you are looking for a way to measure your performance, you can try Run Profiler, which analyses your performance in 3D and gives you indication of your run in real time, to help you improving your skills!
That’s all for this article, I hope you can improve yourself thanks to these advice!
And you, what are your tips to improve your running performances?
See you soon !
Sources : Running Addict, Shape, Running Competitor, Cassidy Philips (running expert), Asics, Alex Figueroa (running coach), Urun.