5 Tips That Will Make Your a Better Runner Plus Mistakes to Avoid

Almost every runner I know, whether they currently run a 12-minute mile or an eight-minute mile, wants to be a faster runner, but faster does not always equal better. A faster runner who gets injured on a regular cycle is not better off than a slower runner who runs pain-free.

No matter what your current pace, there is room for improvement if you want to be a better runner. A better runner is an efficient runner who doesn’t get injured and enjoys to run! Getting faster is the bonus.

Become a better runner. Save to your favorite Pinterest board for later.

Become a better runner. Save to your favorite Pinterest board for later.

Be Consistent with Training

If you want to be a better runner, you don’t necessarily have to run more; you have to run more consistently. Whether you run three days a week or six, the best runners do it consistently week after week, month after month, year after year. Great runners are not made overnight. It’s the hard work over time that pays off.

Don’t Make This Mistake

Don’t confuse consistency with overtraining. Consistent running doesn’t mean that you never take a day off. It means you commit to a certain amount of running per week and you stick to it. It means not skipping scheduled runs or taking extended periods off without a valid reason.

Prioritize Recovery

Recovery includes scheduled rest days and sleep. Scheduled rest days are essential to your improvement. The body adapts (gets stronger and faster) during the rest period after the workout, not during the exercise itself. That means if you don’t allow your body to recover you won’t see the full potential of your hard work.

Everyone’s recovery needs are different. A runner on the high school track team is going to have different recovery needs than a thirty-year-old back-of-the-pack endurance runner, and a beginner runner will need more recovery time than a more experienced one. Rest according to your own needs, but most athletes need at least one full rest day a week or more.

Sleep is one of the most overlooked factors in running performance. Most of the body’s recovery processes happen during sleep. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night for the best running performance.

Don’t Make This Mistake

Don’t use recovery as a rationalization to skip your scheduled workouts. It’s ok to miss a workout if your body is telling you that you need to rest, but you have to be honest with yourself. What’s the truth? Do you need a rest day or do you not feel like running? It sometimes can be hard to tell the difference. When you don’t feel like running on a scheduled training day, I recommend running at least a mile and making the decision if you can continue the run after the first mile. Often the hardest part is getting out the door, and once you start running, you’re more like to complete the scheduled workout. If not, go home and rest, at least you ran a mile.

Fuel with Proper Nutrition and Hydration

If you feel like crap on your runs, make sure you are not eating crap. Eating whole, nutrient-dense foods from nature will provide the energy you need for performance and help with recovery. To become a better runner, fuel yourself with nutritious foods. Learn more in this article I wrote about what to eat before, during and after your runs — nutrition matters.

Hydration is essential to running performance. It’s not about drinking a couple of bottles of water before you run, but maintaining a hydrated state all the time. Hydrate early, hydrate often. Hydrated muscles are happy muscles and running in a dehydrated state will lead to performance losses.

Don’t Make This Mistake

Sometimes when we switch from a standard diet to a healthy diet, we inadvertently slash too many calories too quickly. If you are working to improve the quality of foods in your diet, be sure that you are consuming enough calories to fuel your workouts, especially if you are performing endurance or intense workouts. If you eat too few calories, your performance will suffer. Work to find a healthy balance, like Goldilocks, not too much, not too little.

Vary Your Training

One of the best ways to become a better runner is to vary your training. If you run the same route at the same pace for the same amount of time every run, then you are not providing the stimulus for your body to improve. Include faster paced-runs, long runs, and incline (hill) runs to challenge your body in new ways. Without the challenge, you won’t change.

Don’t Make This Mistake

Don’t attempt to make every run fast and challenging. Most athletes need one or two “effort” sessions each week to see results, most of your other runs during the week should be a slow recovery pace (slow enough that you can sing the alphabet without gasps of air between letters).

By running slow for most of your runs, you’ll be able to recover and perform better when you are training hard, which leads to better results. Running fast every day won’t make you a faster runner, it will likely lead to injury.

Include Strength Training

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I would not write an article about being a better runner without including strength training. Runners who strength train are stronger, faster, and have a reduced chance of injury. Include strength, balance, and stabilization exercises for the best running performance.

Don’t Make This Mistake

Don’t spend hours in the gym on a body part split routine that takes you away from running. Perform runner-specific strength training so you don’t waste time or energy in the gym. Need help? Contact me.

Stay tuned for Wednesday when I am sharing five strength training moves to make you better runner.

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