Running is a natural activity that’s somehow become unfamiliar to most. The best way to improve is to enjoy what you are doing and to do that with running it is key to master the basics.
Everyone runs slightly differently, so you need to find your stride and your natural way of moving over the ground fast. Watch others and follow the tips below to try to become a better runner.
1. Optimise Your Cadence
Cadence, more familiar with cyclists, is the number of steps (or pedal strokes) you take per minute. The optimal cadence for a middle to long distance runner is about 180 steps per minute. Optimising your cadence will help improve speed but also running economy- your ability to move forward with less effort.
Understandably, you’d go crazy if you counted every step you took during a run and then divided it by the minutes you’d ran but it’s easy to keep in mind and check over 15-30 seconds and then do the necessary calculation. Often new runners have a lower than optimal cadence which goes hand in hand with a longer stride. It’s an easy fix once you focus on it for a while until you get into a habit of good cadence.
2. Stride Length
The goal is to take the furthest stride between steps that you can but remain comfortable and within the optimal 180 steps per minute cadence bracket. You don’t want to strain too much and overstriding is a typical root cause of injuries. Start small, find your stride, be comfortable.
Concentrate on consistency, lifting your knees and bringing your foot to the floor so it lands around mid-foot with hip, knee, ankle and toes all aligned. Don’t worry too much initially about under pronating, overpronating etc, just find your rhythm and keep your eyes out for how other faster or more experienced runners stride.
3. Start Small
If you’re starting from scratch, it doesn’t matter how slow, how short or how much you run. At least you’re out there and you’re making progress. If you have to start with repeating 30 seconds running, 30 seconds walking – great! You’ll soon find you are running more and walking less. Improving in anything physical, especially a repetitive motion such as running requires patience but the initial improvement curve is sharp.
4. Set Goals & Targets
Running requires dedication and small improvements over time. The general rule is that to become good at a sport or do more than just maintain your level, especially where fitness is a key factor as in distance running then you should run at least 3 days per week. That would be a start point with the aim to add more days as your body becomes capable of handling the stress.
The good news is that the short, medium and long-term benefits; physically, mentally and socially are very rewarding and well worth the hard work.
5. Don’t Skip!
Set a schedule and stick to it. Like anything new, do it for 30-40 days consecutively and it will become part of your daily routine. Although not the most appealing, the best time to run is first thing in the morning, before emails, family or anything else gets in the way. You’ll also feel better about yourself for the rest of the day.
6. Join A Club
The British Running club system is quite easily the best in the world. We have more clubs per capita than anywhere else and you’ll find running clubs are friendly, approachable, welcoming to new runners and will cater for a wide range of standards.
7. Enter A Race
Nothing motivates you to get out of bed before sunrise better than the thought of an upcoming race that you’ve entered, committed to and promised yourself to do well in. Races are great fun, masses of excited, like-minded people ready to run on an early weekend morning. Be careful, though, they’re highly addictive.
8. Recover Well Between Sessions
Rest, hydration and nutrition are just as important as the running you’ll be doing. You want to recover as quickly and fully as possible after a run. To do that, make sure you eat/drink something within 15-30 minutes of running that has a 2:1 or 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. Our Recovery XS is just one of many options we have specifically designed to optimise your recovery.
Most of all, enjoy!