If you want to become a better runner then all you need to do is run more right? Well not quite, in fact, there are some pretty awesome ways that you can become a better runner without doing any extra running at all! Here is our list of four non-running activities that will make you a better runner.
1) Strength Training
There’s an age-old myth amongst runners that strength training will make you slow, and yet nothing could be further from the truth.
Stronger legs mean more ability to produce force, and more force into the ground equals more movement! Try a few simple sets of weighted squats once or twice per week and you’ll start to notice the difference.
You can also improve your running by developing stronger core muscles, which will help to keep your posture upright and make it easier for you to breathe. Two or three sets of plank and side plank each week can go a long way towards making you a better runner.
2) Targeted Stretching
Runners use certain muscles much more than others, and these muscles tend to get a bit too tight, which can lead to injury and reduce your performance. Regular stretching of your calves, quadriceps, and hips can help reduce this injury risk as well as improve your posture and make your running style more efficient.
A simple forty-five to sixty-second stretch for each of those muscles every day can make a huge difference to your ability as a runner. If you want to take it a bit further then you could try stretching for five to ten minutes every morning just after you wake up, plus five to ten minutes before you go to bed (which is very relaxing)
3) Cardio Cross Training
If you’ve read my article on ‘How to run further (Without getting injured)’ [Insert Link] then you know that I’m a big fan of cross training. If you’ve not heard of the term before, it simply means using different types of exercise to improve your main exercise. So if you’re trying to improve your running you could try an extra session of cycling or swimming. The benefit of doing this is that you’re still developing your cardiovascular fitness without overusing the muscles, joints and movement patterns used in running.
Top Tip: Since the distances you cover will be different for each type of exercise, the best way to make sure you’re working equally hard is to time your workouts and rate the difficulty between one and ten. So if you were planning to run for thirty minutes at a difficulty of seven, then you’ll need to swim for thirty minutes at a difficulty of seven to achieve a similar training effect.
4) Learning to love the kitchen
Running is stressful to your body. Every time you go for a run you send stress signals to your brain, which in turn tries to adapt your body to make it fitter ready for next time. However, for this process to take place your body needs to recover. Enter your friend, food!
Food is one of your body’s best ways to recover after running (the other is sleep, so make sure to get your forty winks) This means getting the right amount of food and the right type of food to maximise recovery.
For muscle repair, protein-rich food is your friend, and to maintain your hormone levels, you’ll also need some healthy fats. Then there are carbohydrates, which you’ll need to replenish your energy stores. Try to make sure that you’re preparing meals which include all three of these essential ingredients.
If you want to be a better runner, then looking after your body is definitely the way to go.
Strength training, stretching, cross training and nutrition planning are all great ways to become a better runner, and you can do every single one of them without going anywhere near a pair of running shoes. Why not try some of them this month and see what impact they have on your running.