Once you become an avid runner, you find yourself in constant pursuit of being better. If you’re hoping to run faster while exerting less energy, here are four simple steps you can take to run more efficiently.
Vary your course
We all get in the habit of running an all too familiar route because we enjoy conquering a run we know we’re sure to tackle successfully. If you want to improve, however, you must get used to being a little uncomfortable, variety is key! Adding a route that has some challenging inclines or steps can be one way to increase your abilities. If you’re local to Lawton, check out Mount Scott and try those hills every once in a while to build incline stamina and downhill pace!
Don’t skip strength training
It’s common for runners to develop muscle imbalances if they skip strength training or don’t address all of their muscles’ needs. You should incorporate multi-joint exercises for runners like lunges or squats as well, but also include simple exercises that help you activate and strengthen weaker, inactive muscles.
The following exercises help balance your body strength and better stabilize you to run more efficiently with less wear and tear:
- Row with resistance tube or weight
- Squats (single and double leg)
- Planks (standard, mountain climbers, side plank raises)
- The Bridge (with both feet on the ground or single leg)
Increase your stride rate
Your stride rate is the number of steps you take in a minute. To determine yours, count the number of strides on one foot for one minute, and then double it. Your goal should be a stride rate of around 180, or 90 per foot. If it’s much less, you’re creating more vertical energy and projecting more upward motion than forward. This, of course, wastes energy. It also means you’re likely employing braking forces with every stride you take instead of rolling quickly over the ground.
One method to improve your stride rate is to run to a music mix at 180 bpm. You may also want to download a metronome app (music timing device). Focus on making shorter strides and increase your cadence gradually. For example, if your stride rate is 165, you could set it to 170 and increase it from there.
Plyometrics are also referred to as jump training or plyos. These exercises cause your muscles to exert maximum force in short intervals of time and have a goal of increasing power.
Because of the power these exercises require, it is best to incorporate these exercises into your training after you have a well-established base of strength training once a week. Here are a few examples of plyometrics you may wish to practice:
- Squat jumps: With your feet shoulder-width apart, bend into a squat position with your knees bent and hips back. Tap the floor with your hands. Jump up reaching your hands straight over your head. Bend your knees when you land, touch the ground again. Repeat this process for 20 seconds.
- Leg bounding: Get into an exaggerated running form. Bound forward as you jump with each stride while focusing on an exaggerated knee lift for 20 seconds. Walk back to recover. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
- Power skips: Keep your arms in running form. Take 20 skips on each leg while focusing on landing gently on the balls of your feet. Increase the height of each skip.
If you have other tips that have helped you become a better runner, be sure to share them with our SOS Facebook group!
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