Whether you are a complete beginner or looking to join competitions, running is one of the best activities you can do for both your physical and mental health. From determining your baseline speed and mileage to upgrading your sports and fitness kit, read on for the essential tips you need to know to run further and faster than ever before.
1. Determine your baseline speed and mileage.
If you are going to start running faster or further, you first need to know your baseline speed and mileage. Your baseline speed is your average minute-per-mile/kilometer pace, and this can be determined by doing a five-mile run, recording how long each mile took, adding the times together, and dividing by five. Once you have your baseline speed, you can then start to set targets for your subsequent sessions.
Another thing that you may want to track is your weekly running mileage, as this is an important metric that can assist you in assessing your performance. Your baseline mileage is the distance you can run in a week before becoming extremely fatigued, sore, or mentally tired. Generally, this is not a specific number but a range, and every runner has one.
When you know your baseline speed and mileage, you can then use them as a starting point for creating a training plan to increase your speed and distance.
2. Incorporate strength training.
In addition to regular runs, it is vital for runners to also incorporate strength training into their weekly workouts. These types of exercises help runners to strengthen their muscles and joints, which leads to improved fitness, faster race times and decreased risk of injury. When you incorporate weights into your fitness regimen, you will increase your speed as your muscles won’t need to expend as much energy to achieve a certain pace.
To do strength training, you can opt to join a gym so that you have access to the necessary equipment. There, you can do bodyweight exercises such as pushups, lunges, and planks, as well as exercises with equipment such as tricep dips and inverted rows. Alternatively, you can choose to participate in a group class such as CrossFit, Barre, or Pilates. It is also highly advised that you take part in cross-training, such as cycling or swimming, which further builds strength and flexibility in muscles that running doesn’t utilize.
Taking a holistic approach to your fitness is crucial. In addition to strength training, you want to make sure you are also prioritizing other areas such as flexibility, balance, and mobility. Altogether, these exercises will help you achieve peak fitness and avoid injury.
3. Nutrition is key to increased performance.
Without the proper nutrition to sustain your body, you will not be able to meet your running goals. Therefore, you want to make sure you are combining your training with a well-thought-out nutrition plan. The best way to ensure you are providing your body with the nutrients it needs is to create an eating plan that is reasonable, sensible, and works for your lifestyle. The last thing you want to do is to set unreasonable targets.
First, spend a week keeping a food diary and write down everything you consume and how it makes you feel. Pay attention to the days when you felt tired and sluggish or didn’t eat the appropriate amount. From there, you will be in a better position to start creating a nutrition plan that works for you.
Most runners find that eating little but often is the best strategy as it helps you to avoid low blood sugar levels and tiredness. To do this, you will need to take advantage of healthy snacks that combine protein and carbohydrates. Snacks such as a banana with nut butter, plain popcorn, and natural yoghurt are all ideal.
That being said, you still need to be eating healthy, balanced meals throughout the day. As a runner, you want to be eating high-carbohydrate foods, such as pasta, brown rice, potatoes, beans and quinoa.
You always want to refuel your body post-run with protein and carbohydrates to restore your glycogen and repair the muscles. Eat as soon as you can, as the first few hours after a run are pivotal in replacing what you used while running.
4. Upgrade your sports and fitness kit.
The final part of the puzzle is ensuring that you have the appropriate sports and fitness kit to help make your runs easier. A basic running kit should include tops, bottoms, socks, sports bras (for females) and proper running shoes.
Of course, running shoes are critical, and you want to invest in a new pair after about 400 miles; otherwise, they will lose their cushioning and stability, which will affect your pace and increase your risk of injury. Unfortunately, too many runners try to get too much wear out of their shoes, and their feet and shins pay the price. To ensure that you have shoes that can support you, opt to purchase your running shoes from a speciality store. Here, a trained expert will be able to fit you with the right pair for you.
When it comes to clothes, you want to ensure that your pieces are light and breathable, as this will help you no matter how far you go. Whether you opt to wear running shorts or running tights, you want these items to be snug fitting yet comfortable. Similarly, running tops should be made from fabrics that can quickly absorb sweat or rain – you don’t want to be wearing cotton.
If you are in the market for new running or fitness pieces, make sure you check out the latest Grit+Tonic deals to ensure you are getting high-quality items at the most affordable price.
Are you a runner who is looking to go faster and further this year? If so, what strategies are you implementing to make this happen? What are your other fitness goals for this year? Do you have the right gear to help you succeed? Let us know your thoughts and any additional insights in the comments below!