While running is a sport many people can enjoy, pounding the pavement every day can take a toll on your body. However, you can learn to run better, faster, and become a stronger overall runner by following simple best practices. Keep reading to explore our top tips for becoming the best runner you can be.
1. Be Consistent
One of the most straightforward ways any athlete has learned to run better is to be consistent–but it can also be one of the most challenging principles. Even though it’s common knowledge that becoming a better athlete means running regularly, some days we are just feeling off, tired or don’t have the motivation to get out the door.
However, there are easy ways to improve consistency. If you’re not feeling it that day, put on your running shoes and commit to running one mile. It doesn’t even have to be a fast mile. More often than not, you’ll be glad you did once you get moving and happily log as many miles as you planned.
Another way to improve consistency is to make your training runs a habit. Try to run at the same time each day. For example, getting your run in first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day feeling fresh and focused. Running after school or work is also an excellent way to decompress after a long day–especially if you spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer.
Finally, consider joining a running club or finding a training buddy. It goes a long way in helping you stay accountable and motivated!
2. Develop a Plan
It’s one thing to run consistently, but if you want to learn how to run better, you need to have a game plan. Create a running schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
For example, your plan might include training for a 5k or half-marathon. Get it on the calendar and create a countdown in your running log. Mix your training up and incorporate tempo runs, long runs, and running drills into your workouts. It keeps things fresh, makes you stronger, and helps keep you from falling into a rut where you’re bored and unmotivated.
If you’re looking for awesome training plans no matter what race you’re focusing on, be sure to check out our arsenal of effective, comprehensive plans!
3. Fuel Your Body
It’s hard to get through an intense run if your body is running on junk food. Think of what you eat as the fuel that powers each run. A balanced, healthy diet is key to deciphering how to run better every day!
That being said, healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. I’m not a fan of strict diets that rule out entire food groups. A good rule of thumb is to eat at least two to three servings of fruits and vegetables, a moderate amount of protein, and healthy fats every day.
Furthermore, practice moderation. Running burns a lot of calories, and it’s ok to indulge sometimes. If you conquered a massively long run and are craving a bowl of peanut butter fudge ice cream or a bag of potato chips that evening, go for it–just don’t do it every day!
Finally, it’s critical to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day aim for at least eight glasses per day. It might sound gross to use your urine output as a good indicator–but if you’re urinating regularly with a pale yellow to clear color, you’re good to go.
If you want to learn more about optimum nutrition for running, be sure to visit our YouTube playlist full of videos about nutrition for runners.
4. Prevent Injuries
One way to derail consistency is by getting injured and not being able to run. If you’ve been a runner for long at all, you’ll experience them now and then, but there are plenty of ways to limit injuries.
First off, you don’t want to go into an intense workout with blazing speed. Start with a brief warm up that gets your body ready and helps reduce the risk of pulling or tearing a muscle or aggravating your joints.
If you’ve ever finished a run without cooling down and stretching, you know how sore you’ll be later that day or in the morning–your legs were probably screaming at you and the start of your next run might be painful. Do this enough times and you risk ending up with an injury. End each training run with a proper cool down and stretching to aid the recovery process and keep you limber for your next run.
5. Incorporate Cross-Training
Like I mentioned earlier, running is a high-impact sport. It’s an awesome, full-body workout that offers amazing endorphins, but it does take its toll on your joints and muscles, especially if you’re a high-mileage runner.
Part of learning how to run better is knowing your body and listening to it. When you feel like you need a day to rest your legs, you can still get a lower impact, high-quality workout in. Some great options are pilates, yoga, swimming, elliptical running, and strength training. You’ll start your next running feeling fresh and rested.
Some people need a day off from running a couple of times per week. Some athletes prefer one day a week–and some are happy and injury-free for weeks or months at a time. Remember, listen to your body and adapt as needed!
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