Nine Ways to Be a Better Runner

Being the best runner you can be isn’t always winning. Sometimes it is just beating your own personal record with consistency and practice.

Running is more than just an activity. It is a way of life. Once a person decides to be a runner, it can open up a whole world of new opportunities for health, strength, weight loss, stress relief, and even social interactions and friendships.

When runners really decide to embrace being a runner, it is pretty common to look for ways to increase both speed and endurance. For both new and longtime runners, we compiled a list of nine ways to be a better runner.

  1. Consistency

No matter how passionate you are about running, you must run. It seems obvious, but sometimes even the most determined among us find it difficult to make time to run. However, once we do force ourselves to get going, we feel great, whereas when we fail to go on that run, we often regret it.

Runners who are able to get into a groove and consistently run will naturally improve. Running will get easier and more fun. However, what is the trick to consistency? Why is it so difficult?

Those who experience the most success being consistent typically run at the same time every day. Also, although some of us may relish those extra moments of sleep in the morning, the folks who get up early in the morning to run seem to be the most consistent.

If you are able to get up early and run in the morning, you will reap the benefits for the rest of the day. Running will lift your mood and can give you a boost of energy that will get your day moving in the right direction and at the right speed.

2. Intervals

When it comes to running, intervals fluctuate between incredibly fast paces and less intense periods. In the fast segment of the interval, you push yourself close to your peak heart rate then you and your heart slow down during the recovery period.

The best part about intervals is that if you are in good shape and are able to sustain a run for 30 minutes or more, intervals can improve your running ability and make you a faster, more efficient runner, no matter what your current performance level is.

While you are alternating between the periods of intense running and the slower, recovery stages, these intervals will improve how efficiently oxygen moves through your system to your muscles.

With intervals, don’t overdo it. Intervals should only be a small percentage of your overall running. Don’t worry. Even a small, regular number of intervals will make a difference.

3. Speed Work

Coaches have differing opinions on speed work. For some, it can be any sustained running that is at a much faster pace than what you are accustomed to running. For others, the definition requires intervals to be near or exceed the VO2max pace, which is a maximum amount of oxygen you can use during the period of intensity.

Speed work is essential for anyone who wishes to run faster. The changes it creates in your body will improve your form and help you run faster, longer, and farther. Some of the changes speed work can induce include an increased range of movement in joints, increased calorie burn, greater muscle, and elevated heart rate.

Speed work will get you more fit, change how you move and breathe, and improve your running ability overall. Just keep in mind that speed work is stressful for the body, so give yourself time to recover in easier intervals if speed work becomes part of your practice. To be on the safe side, limit the amount of speed work you incorporate into your running.

4. Hills and Bridges

Hills and bridges are speed work in disguise. Running on hills and over bridges uses different muscles. We are fortunate to live in a city that is quite spacious and offers many places to run with different scenery and even bridges. For more info on places to run, check out this link to the website Great Runs that examines places to run the Jacksonville, Florida area.

Running over bridges and hills works different muscles.

5. Right Shoes

Sooner or later, many runners make a mistake with shoes. The mistake could consist of black toenails threatening to fall off, or the mistake could cause hip, knee, or back pain. The wrong shoes can even result in an injury like Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.

The old saying might be walk in someone else’s shoes, but you definitely don’t want to run in someone else’s shoes or in the wrong shoes. Shoes are a personal choice, and everyone’s feet are different with various needs. We don’t recommend the barefoot running trend as it can cause some of the aforementioned issues.

The type of running you plan to do and the sort of surfaces you run on, arch type, wear patterns, and side to side movements are just a few factors to consider. Many running shoe stores offer in-store gait analysis.

What type of running shoe is best is also determined by what surfaces you like to run across.

If you find a shoe you love, it is probably worth investing in a couple of pairs. Running shoes wear out after approximately 300 to 500 miles, and alternating the shoes can extend the life of each pair.

6. Lifestyle 

Changing your lifestyle can make you a better runner. It sounds simple, but running efficiently requires you to be well-rested. You need to get plenty of sleep and also eat well. If you find yourself often in a rush, consider using a blender for a healthy, speedy meal.

It is important for runners to get enough sleep.

Another aspect of lifestyle pertains to goals. Goals are personal and help you keep moving forward.

Lastly, flexibility needs to be part of a runner’s life. There will be weeks when the weather won’t be on your side. Some days your schedule might get hectic. It is important to be flexible enough to work around those challenges. Flexibility needs to be physical, as well, so you should also make sure you are flexible with either doing stretches or by doing something like yoga.

7. Get a Coach

These suggestions may sound like a lot. Even though we feel like we know our bodies, it is still possible for us to either push ourselves too hard or not enough. Having an experienced coach guide you on your running journey can prevent injury, help you set clear goals, and stay motivated. All these ways to be a better runner are easier to attain with the help of a coach in your corner.

If you are in the Jacksonville, Florida area and are interested in talking to a running coach, contact us at PRSJax

8. Join a Team

Joining a team is a good way to make sure your running is consistent. Once you get to know your teammates, you can all keep each other on track and accountable. It is safer to run with a group, and a team is a great way to make really supportive friends with common goals.

9. Keep a Log

Most runners adore technology for the ability of various phones, gadgets, watches, and apps to keep track of our speed and distances, but on the occasion that technology fails, some runners can get quite worked up. Instead of solely relying on technology, consider keeping a log or journal.

A log allows you to record anything about your run that interests you. You can record your thoughts or feelings the same way you will probably want to record your distance and time. You can even record the scenery or the sighting of an animal.

These are just a few ways to become a better runner. No matter where you are in your running journey, we are so glad you are out there running!

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