5 Ways to Improve Your Running

5 Ways to Improve Your Running  HappyFitMama.com

I’m a runner but I’ve never been one of those runners who runs and that’s it. Someone who doesn’t do cycling, yoga, swimming, walking, strength training in addition to running. I love different forms of exercise too much to be a one sport lover. Plus, my body just can’t handle running more than four days a week max. If I do, my body starts to revolt. My muscles scream at me and injury is not too far away. Rather than loving the run, I’m hating it.

Of course, to improve your running you need to run. It’s not rocket science to know that the more miles you run and the more speed sessions you do, the faster you will get. However, running more isn’t always the key to success. Yes, running helps to adapt your running ligaments, tendons, and muscles that you use with each stride. But there are ways you can help improve your running without the constant pounding of the pavement.

  • Yoga – You knew I was going to say that, right? When I first was evaluated for my tendon injury, the sports med doctor, my PT and all the other PT’s that did my gait analysis asked if I did yoga. When I said I did, they said good, do more and do it often. Runner’s are a bunch of tight ass’s. Literally. Yoga is good for lengthening and loosening our running muscles as well as working on the smaller muscles of the feet and ankles. Those pesky little muscles get overlooked when we focus on the larger ones – quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Yoga also can help with your breath control and focus.
  • Foam Roll – While I’d love to get a weekly deep tissue massage from a massage therapist, my pocket book does not. The foam roller is the next best thing. You don’t quite get that relaxing feeling while doing it but regularly rolling helps bring more oxygen and blood flow to your muscles. I know I can feel a huge difference when I slack on it. Which CONFESSION time – I have been lately. I’m trying to get back into the regularly nightly habit of rolling for at least 15 minutes. Here’s a VLOG I did on foam rolling basics.
  • Balance Training – This gets overlooked a lot. We tend to think that it’s something only the elderly need to help prevent falls. Poor balance can be an indicator of muscle weaknesses in the the hip flexors, feet, ankles, and core. If one area is too weak, your body will compensate by overworking another. I thought I had great balance until I did THIS test. Turns out my right lower abdominal was weaker which was throwing everything off in my running.
  • Strengthen Your Core – The core has gotten a lot of hype over the past few years. Everyone and their brother is on the plank party. And for good reason! Research shows most hip, knee, ankle and foot injuries are from a weak core.  But you need to be doing more than just a standard forearm plank to truly work your entire core. Check out my Core Strength for Runners for exercises on how to work the obliques, rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, hip flexors and erector spinae. I try to work my core for at least 5-10 minutes most days of the week. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my running since implementing it.
  • Take a Rest Day (or two) – At least one complete rest day is needed every week. Rest is needed to gain strength, restock glycogen stores and reduce mental fatigue. My rest day is Friday. During marathon training, it was something I always looked forward to. I knew that I could push on my Thursday speed or tempo workout because the next day was all about recovery.

What are your tips for improving your running?

Do you do balance training?

47 comments on “5 Ways to Improve Your Running

    1. During heavy training, I do a massage at least once a month preferably after a long run. I did that after my first ever 20 miler and it was pure heaven!

  1. Wow, I just did the balance test you linked back to, and I was shocked when I rolled right off the foam roller!
    My tip for improving is adding 1 or 2 workouts a week that include bodyweight leg exercises between spurts of running–practicing running on tired legs helps me on race day
    Karen recently posted..14 miles and too much PaneraMy Profile

  2. Yes to all of these and I’m so glad you included balance training. People don’t realize how much it declines as they age. Running is balancing on one foot over and over so it’s really key to work on it. Great tips!
    misszippy1 recently posted..Why I think Lupita rocksMy Profile

  3. I do all of the above. I also added HIT (high intensity training) once/weekly to my regimen. As an older runner, I needed to add strength training to preserve my muscle strength. I work with a crossfit trainer and it is truly amazing how much this has improved my running–my legs feel less fatigued and my splits are actually faster. Who knew?
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted..Happy FeetMy Profile

  4. Great post Angela! You have hit the nail on the head with the other ways to improve running. So many people do not understand that, but I am glad you created a post you can share with others about that.

    I am very obsessive about getting my core routine in (only 14 minutes) 4-5 times a week, and my conditioning exercises 2-3 times a week. They are SO helpful for preventing injuries.

    However, my weakness is definitely the stretching and foam rolling….I should be better at this, but I am embarrassed to admit that I just get lazy with it! I need to be more like you 🙂
    Tina Muir recently posted..International Women’s DayMy Profile

  5. Great tips!! I’ve been working a lot lately on balance training!! I used to be one of those runners who only ran. Then I turned 35 and that didn’t work any more so I added in strength training, core work and lots of balance moves – it has made a huge difference!! Now I need to really get serious about stretching and foam rolling!
    Kim recently posted..Giving Something UpMy Profile

  6. When my husband and I were both training for marathons back in 2009 & 2010, we had differing ideas on cross-training. My husband believed that GOLF was a good way to cross train (and seriously, he was a firm believer in the foam roller), and I loved to get a good massage after my long run of the week.

    Thanks to your HappyMarchFitness challenge, I am taking up planks to work on my core. I never was a fan of situps or crunches, but planking just might work for me!
    Marnie @ SuperSmartMama recently posted..What I Ate Wednesday #2My Profile

  7. Nailed it my friend! As I just sent a hysterical text to John that I pushed myself too far these past two weeks and now I am hammered. Balance, core, strength training all new to me this year as a runner and have improved my running tenfold! Now I need to do better with yoga. I like to take rest, I just wish I would recognize it before I am in a bad way.
    Tara Newman recently posted..WIAW: The Protein ChallengeMy Profile

  8. I agree that cross training helps to improve running. I recently started spinning on one of my rest days from running and it’s turned into a workout day that I look forward to. I’m also working on adding more yoga into my schedule.
    Angie @ A Mother’s Pace recently posted..5 by the 5th: MarchMy Profile

  9. I recently finished the book “you (only faster)” by greg macmillian and I got a lot out of it. I discovered what type of runner I am, and what area’s I need to work on.
    Today I did speedwork. It was hard, my lungs felt like they were dying. I know I have the endurance and the speed in my legs, but I need to work on it, because my repeat times were great. If I keep up what I did in training, I should be able to get a sub 20min time for 5km.
    Yoga is also really important to me. And foam rolling, there is nothing like a good foam rolling session to make you feel alive.
    Matilda recently posted..Feb 2014 – Running StatsMy Profile

  10. Awesome suggestions! Foam rolling and yoga both were my saviors during my first half marathon training. Now that I am registered for number two, I am going to do a better job of core strengthening and making sure I maintain a regular strength training schedule. Last time I let everything else fall by the wayside and only concentrated on running which resulted in injury and a very angry body. I have not spend a lot of time on balance training in the past but will definitely look into it! Thanks for sharing!
    Jenna recently posted..Rainy Day SpinMy Profile

Comments are closed.