The small improvements we make every day in our life’s journey is what keep us going. And it’s said that comparison is the thief of joy. That’s why we should only compete with ourselves by aiming to be better today than we were yesterday.
Running is a field that requires improvement every day. You will probably not achieve much when you start as a runner, but this is bound to drastically change with the right skills, mindset, and training.
In this guide, we’ll discuss tips that can help you get better at running while ensuring that you do so in a safe and manageable way.
Success will not come overnight, and it might take some time before you can notice the actual change in your running. Hang in there; with constant training and determination, you will eventually see improvement in your running.
Tips to Becoming a Better Runner
Running faster depends on different factors such as stamina, training time, lifestyle weight, and determination. We have a few tips on these factors to help you become a better runner. These tips apply to all categories of people; whether you are a professional runner or you just run to keep a healthy lifestyle:
One of the best methods to improve your running exercises is having a training program and sticking by it. A training program acts as a guide to your training progress. It helps you set your goals and keep identifying, improving, and correcting what is not working.
A training plan with a suitable design will help you keep building on your past success, ensuring a consistent improvement in your training.
The training program should generally aim to help you improve for no more than 5-10% of your current performance, whether it is speed or distance. Give yourself a target period within which you should achieve this. Doing so ensures that you consistently monitor whether you are reaching the new milestone or not.
The training period can be a week or two, depending on the frequency of your training. Once you consistently and comfortably achieve the goals set out in the program, you can then adjust it upwards.
Keep a Running Log
A good runner keeps track of their progress. The best way to know how you are fairing over time is by ensuring that you are keeping a log of your performance. Doing this helps you become a faster runner in below three ways;
- It Helps Track Your Achievements: Using the 5-10% improvement program will help you gradually become better at this activity. By keeping a log of how far you have come, you get the motivation to work even harder and keep realizing your goals.
- It Helps You Plan Your Runs: When starting your training, you will have to set some goals that you want to achieve at the end of your training. Tracking your progress will help you know how much longer you need to run to accomplish these goals. Such knowledge helps you plan the workouts and runs more effectively to maximize the results.
- It Helps Improve the Training Program: Monitoring progress helps you know what is working and what is not. There will be some weeks when you will achieve better results than others. This information will help you figure out what you were doing right in those successful weeks and replicate it in the future.
Most activity trackers and GPS watches have apps that let you track your ongoing improvements.
Another crucial aspect of helping you become a faster runner is by remaining consistent. Consistency is one of the most vital traits you need to become a faster runner. Being consistent means running even during days when you would rather not. It keeps you focused and intentional in the journey to becoming a better and faster runner.
One of the best ways to do this is to set a specific time for your runs. Whenever possible, ensure this time is the same every day. Doing so helps your body get into a routine. You should also treat your running as a priority, just like all other valuable tasks you set to carry out every day.
If, for some reason, you miss your practice, you should always make sure you make up for it before the week is out. Doing so ensures that you do not regress in training.
Keep a Positive Mindset
Your mindset plays a significant role in achieving the challenging task you are about to undertake. It is crucial to ensure that your mind and body are well-aligned with the task at hand. If this doesn’t happen, you will not be very successful at what you do.
Becoming a better runner will not be easy since it will not happen overnight. For this reason, ensure that you prepare both physically and mentally. Having the right mental attitude towards your training is an excellent place to start. Once you have this in place, your body will cooperate with your mind to achieve the results.
An excellent way to encourage your mind is to note down every little achievement, as it will motivate you to aim for more.
Having the Right Diet
Exercise goes together with having a proper diet. To improve your performance, you need to watch what you give your body. Proper diet will help reduce the chances of injury and illness while training.
To become a better, faster runner, consider having the following foods in your diet; dark chocolate, oats, peanut butter, bananas, plain yoghurt, potatoes, broccoli, and whole-grain pasta.
Most of the above foods are high-carb foods since running is energy-intensive. Others like yoghurt and broccoli have amino acids and Vitamin C, which help in energy and muscle regeneration.
While it might seem obvious, most runners make the mistake of not having the right gear during a run. Wearing right ensures that you are comfortable while running, which helps you achieve more. The best running clothes are lightweight and feature light fabric. They make you not feel excess heat, thus avoiding extreme sweating.
The right fit of running shoes ensures that you are comfortable when running and greatly reduces the chances of getting injured while running. They should also have superior cushioning and are lightweight.
Start with shorter distances
Learning how to run faster at shorter distances before increasing your distance is a great way to start and maintain a positive mindset. Putting your efforts on a 5K could be a great starting point.
Check out one of our favorite runners, Sage Canaday talk about running a faster 5K:
Things You Should Avoid As a Runner
While knowing how to improve your running speed is essential, knowing what to avoid during your running exercises is equally important. Below are some things that you should avoid when training to improve your running speed:
As a runner, you will have to endure some pain, especially if you are just starting. However, there is a clear line between dealing with pain resulting from sore muscles and neglecting pain from an injury. A clear distinction between the two is that pain from fatigue is temporal while that from an injury is not.
If you keep feeling pain every time your exercise for an extended period, chances are you are suffering from an injury that requires immediate attention. Ignoring such pain will only worsen the result. In addition, a long-time injury might render you incapable of running anymore. Seeking professional advice is the only safe bet in such a situation.
Skipping Your Warm-Up
It can be pretty tempting to start your run at full throttle, especially when excited or are short on time. Unfortunately, this might result in strained muscles or a torn tendon. Warm-ups are crucial when preparing for a run. It helps your body muscles adjust for the task ahead.
A good warm-up involves walking long strides and a fair amount of stretching. It will gradually increase your heart rate while at the same time loosening your muscles and joints in anticipation of the run.
For those who love running in the morning, it might seem like a bad idea to run on a full stomach, and you may opt to skip breakfast and eat later after their run. However, this is not ideal since you need the energy to power up your body. Running on an empty stomach will result in low sugar levels, leading to you feeling weak. In such conditions, you will not achieve much.
While you don’t have to eat to your fill before a run, having at least 300 calories before the run should do the trick. You should also not start your run immediately after breakfast. Spare at least half an hour after breakfast before your run.
Training Too Hard Too Fast
As a committed runner seeking results, there is always that temptation to work too hard too fast. A good number of trainees think that working too hard in the first days will result in quick progress. Unfortunately, this is never the case, and most often than not, it only results in injuries.
To become a better runner, be patient and wait to get positive results. Training your body involves giving it time to rest and adjust. Training too hard too fast puts so much strain and your body which may cause it to cave in.
Above, we have a few of the many tips that will help you become a faster runner. While not everything might work for you, picking what fits you and implementing it is the trick. Developing a good running strategy involves constantly evaluating the plan to understand what is working, what is not and consistently revising it.
Consistency is paramount in becoming a faster runner. Irrespective of your changes to the running plan, you must keep at it until you achieve the intended results. Improving your running speed might be pretty hard, but it is possible. With this guide, you will undoubtedly become a faster runner.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is through constantly challenging yourself.