For some, running is a fun pastime; for others, it's a tiresome necessity. But no matter where you fall on the running spectrum, if you're striving to become better, then here are seven things you can do to become a better runner.
- Keep it consistent: If you stop running for a while, then you'll have to build your conditioning back up. So if you want to take your workout to the next level, then make sure you're staying consistent. Sign up for a race and start a training program (like this half-marathon training schedule) to track your progress; you'll be able to see how much your hard work has paid off.
- Learn proper form: It may seem like the simplest way to work out, but running does take skill to make sure you don't leave your body prone to injury. When running, keep your head stacked over your spine, relax the shoulders, and engage your abs. Find out how the rest of your body should be with our running-form checklist.
- Dress the part: There's no need to invest in anything fancy, but be sure to spend wisely. The perfect pair of shoes can be the difference between feeling sluggish and being light on your feet, and it can also help prevent injuries. Whether you need a full-support shoe or want in on the minimalist shoe trend, watch our video for tips on how to pick a running shoe.
- Fuel right: Running on an empty stomach can keep you from having the right amount of energy, but eating too much can lead to cramping. Look for a small snack containing carbs and protein for sustained energy. Timing is everything, however; if you're rushing out the door and haven't eaten anything, then go for something with 15 grams of easily digestible carbs (like a slice of white bread). Read more about the best foods to eat before a workout (and when to eat them) here.
- Drink water: Drinking enough water is another way to ensure you'll have a good run. If you don't drink enough water before your run (as well as during), then chances are you'll have to stop before you'd like to because of fatigue or a cramp. Make sure you drink an ounce of water for every 10 pounds of body weight about an hour or two before your workout, and watch for these signs of dehydration during your run.
- Have a plan: It's not all about consistency; you should also keep your body challenged. Running outside instead of just on the treadmill, for example, builds your muscle to help increase speed and endurance, as does incorporating high-intensity intervals. And techniques like negative splits will help improve your overall mile time as well. Plan on doing these types of runs for the majority of your workouts if you're trying to increase your mileage or time, but be sure to incorporate easy runs into your weekly plan as well.
- Do more than run: Don't limit yourself to improving your pace just while you're on the road. There are many things you can do when you aren't running that can help you, like stretching after every run, strength training regularly, and getting enough sleep. Find out more about what you can do to be a better runner (without running) here.