Just when you think you’ve conquered it all, a new race, distance or time goal appears. After accomplishing a goal that once felt impossible, it’s natural to want to continue improving your running performance.
Or, maybe you’ve been running for a long time and feeling ready for a new challenge, but unsure how to get past this running plateau. You want to improve your running performance, but really don’t know how to get started.
Whatever the reason, it’s natural for runners to continue to want to improve their running performance. With endless goal setting opportunities, running provides the perfect set up for continuous self-improvement.
These simple strategies are a great way to increase your running efficiency so you can keep improving as a runner. Learning how to improve your running performance will not only help you increase speed and endurance, but it will increase your satisfaction and self-confidence as well.
Check out some of the best ways to improve your running performance!
7 Strategies to Improve Your Running Performance
Incorporate interval training and speed workouts.
One of the best ways to improve your running performance is to incorporate more focused speed workouts into your training.
Regardless of whether or not you are training for a specific time goal, including regular speed workouts is a great way to continually increase your fitness.
Try designating one day each week to be your speed training day. Mix things up with intervals, such as 400s, 800s or mile repeats, tempo runs, fartleks and hill training. Not only do these structured workouts push your body physically, but they build a great deal of mental strength as well.
Adjust your fueling strategy.
Many runners find themselves hitting a plateau after they’ve been running for a little while. It’s natural that when things start to feel easier we find ourselves less motivated to continue to improve.
However, hitting a running plateau is often a sign that it’s time to change things up. And what’s one of the biggest culprits for sluggishness and overall fatigue? Improper fueling.
When increasing your mileage, speed, or even just maintaining a consistent training schedule, it’s important to fuel your body with the right foods. Consuming enough calories before and after a run might sound like enough by itself, but the type of calories you consume is what matters even more.
Stock up on carb-dense foods with fast-acting sugars to use as fuel for long runs. Plan to refuel within 30 minutes of a tough workout by eating a mix of protein and sugar to replenish your muscles. And most importantly, focus on eating nutrient dense foods throughout the week to keep up your energy and maintain optimal health throughout training.
Add some foam rolling and yoga.
You can put in countless training hours, complete every single workout and strength training session each week and still feel as if your running performance is not improving. And the reason is probably simple: you’re not recovering well enough.
Recovery is a key aspect of training, and one that is often overlooked. While your actual workouts, fuel strategy and hydration certainly impact your running, recovery is crucial for improving running performance over time.
When your post-run stretching routine feels like it just might not be cutting it, try adding in some weekly foam rolling sessions or recovery yoga poses. These types of active recovery can really help rejuvenate tired muscles and allow you to feel fresh during training each week.
Increase your cadence.
More often than not, improving running performance involves getting down into the nitty gritty of what you’re doing on the actual run. And if you’ve been running for any length of time, you might be surprised to find out just how lazy you’ve gotten.
Maintaining proper running technique is easier in the beginning when you are just getting started and are focusing on the basics. But once running starts to feel more familiar, it’s easy to let things slide a little as you settle into a routine.
Taking the time to increase your running cadence and shorten your stride is an effective way to really improve your running performance. Try completing your easy runs on a treadmill at your usual pace, with a metronome set to 180 bpm. Focus on stepping each time the metronome clicks without increasing your speed.
Increasing your cadence promotes a mid-foot strike by naturally forcing you to shorten your stride. Striking mid-foot is usually considered the healthiest place, as it helps prevent various injuries that can occur from overstriding on the run.
Practice low heart rate training.
If you’re really serious about improving your running performance and willing to take some time to do so, adopting a low heart rate training method has been effective for many runners.
Low heart rate training involves training your body to naturally use less effort at faster paces. In the beginning, your goal is to run solely based on heart rate, and never run at a pace that causes your heart rate to increase above your maximum HR.
This pace will likely be shockingly slow as you beginning LHR training, but over time, it should gradually increase as your body adjusts. Eventually, you should be able to run much faster while still maintaining a lower heart rate.
Check out this awesome article from Amanda to learn more about low heart rate training!
Perfect your posture and running form.
Another technique many runners can improve upon is their posture and running form. Dedicating a few runs to really focus on maintaining healthy posture can quickly improve your running performance.
During your next run, take inventory of your current posture and habits. Do you slouch when running up an incline? Are your hands bunched up in fists, creating tension? Do your arms flail from side to side?
Evaluating your current running form can help open your eyes to any changes you need to make. Be conscious of any movements you are making that might take excess energy or slow you down, as well as any positions that might be creating tension throughout your body.
Keep a training log.
Sometimes it feels as if it’s been an eternity since we’ve made any running improvements. When it feels like we are doing everything right and still not improving, one of the most helpful tools we can use is a training log.
Maintaining a log of all of your workouts, training runs and races is a great way to reflect and monitor your progress. Recording paces, heart rate, cadence, location, and how you felt during each run help you monitor what leads to success.
One of the most appealing things about running is the fact that you are able to compete with yourself. The number of new distances and race PRs we conquer are truly limitless. Once you conquer a goal that felt impossible to begin with, your eyes are opened to new challenges and aspirations.
This time of year is a great time to evaluate where you are with your running progress, and decide what changes you’d like to make to accomplish your next goals.
We are capable of more than we can ever imagine, and running has a great way of showing us this. Try one of these 7 strategies to improve your running performance and make this new year the best one yet!
More running performance tips:
- The Best 10 Tips for Every Kind of Runner
- 9 Surprising Ways to Make Running Feel Easier
- 7 Training Strategies to Achieve Your Next Race Goal