Last time out, I discussed with you about how to stay active. One great way to do you just that is to get into running. Running can be challenging to begin yet fantastic when it is a habit. A brilliant way to stay motivated is to aim for faster running times. Here’s how you can increase your speed and decrease the numbers on your stopwatch, in Running Times: 5 Ways to Improve Them!
1. Eat & Drink the Right Things at the Right Time
As is often the case, the small details add up to make significant differences. Ensure that you have fully digested your food before running – nobody likes to move too much on a full stomach. Something to bear in mind is that although smoothies and milkshakes do digest quicker, you should still give them time. Carbohydrates and sugars are great before going out – you can select both long and short-term energy sources. After you finish, make sure that you refuel your protein intake to repair and rebuild fatigued muscles.
When it comes to drinks, water is perfect before and after, especially on a hot day. I wouldn’t recommend energy drinks unless you have a big competition or a considerable challenge on the cards.
Running is all about rhythm. Whether it’s your stride or your breathing, keeping it consistent is essential, and a playlist full of great beats will help you do just this. Listening to your favourite artists can also bring your mind more fully into the challenge. It’s definitely worth putting a selection of inspirational running (remember “Rocky”?) songs together for the session.
Make sure that you have some songs that psyche, hype and get you amped and pumped up at the beginning, preparing also for when you might get tired in the late stages of the route. There are some great articles on Keep Fit Kingdom like this one that discuss the benefits of music – check it out.
3. Treat the Hill Challenges with Respect
Trust me, running uphill is tough. However, it’s not impossible. It also means that you will have some downhill coming later. Lean into the hills from your ankles and not your hips as you want to leverage gravitational forces on your body to use the least energy as you ascend the hill. Yes, it’s tough, but the view at the top is more than likely to compensate!
When coming down hills, be careful not to lean back and brake the fall one step at a time. That’ll wear out your joints. Lengthen your strides and try to keep your body position as relaxed as possible. You will gain speed going down the hill – don’t become complacent though, you still need to to pay attention lest you tumble down without control!
4. Vary Your Distances
If you want to run faster, you’re going to have to increase your speed. It sounds obvious, but what does that actually mean? Rather than running the same 10km, looking to shave seconds off the time, throw a few interval sessions in, where you can teach your body the higher tempo you want it to produce over the longer distance.
I quite like running a mile up a local hill and then walking down. I repeat this three or four times. Because you are having a rest, you can push yourself to a higher speed. When you go back to a longer run, watch out for a considerable difference in the data. That being said, don’t forget to have some long-distance runs – you don’t want your body to forget endurance either!
If you don’t have a basic stretching routine, the chances of injury and longer-than-necessary fatigue will increase. Make sure you stretch your legs and your whole body well. Before the run, do dynamic stretches and after the run, bring in longer, stationary stretches. That way, you can increase and decrease your heart rate respectively, giving you the best performance for today and setting up the future.