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?