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Runners are always looking for ways to improve. Whether that be improving your speed or wanting to improve your mileage, there are things that you can do to not only become a better runner but also to make running more fun.
In this article, we’ll explain how to become a better runner in seven simple ways so that you can start seeing improvement as soon as possible.
1. Make a Realistic Goal and Stick to It
The first thing you need to do when learning to become a better runner is to establish a realistic goal you know you can achieve.
This doesn’t mean that the running goal should be easy. It should still be something that requires you to work towards it. But you don’t want your running goal to require you to strain your body or be so far-fetched that you quit early on. Having a goal of running a marathon in a month when you’re a beginner isn’t realistic or achievable. But increasing your running distance a little on every long run, doing speed work to improve your pace, or working on your running technique to improve your stride are all great goals.
Here are some goals that you may want to consider, depending on your skill level:
- Signing up for a marathon
- Completing 5 miles in 45 minutes
- Maintaining a steady jog for 30 minutes
2. Take Your Time
Despite what we learned in gym class, running doesn’t always have to be a race. You will quickly burn out if you give it your all from the beginning of each run.
Even if you are an experienced runner, if you’re looking to improve your running stride or endurance, you may want to slow your pace down by a minute or two. This frees your mind and allows you to focus on more than just your body, building your mental strength. Doing this also often produces what’s commonly known as “runner’s high,” and you’ll naturally improve.
3. Discover New Trails
Learning how to become a better runner is all about challenging yourself. If you run your same neighborhood route every day, you’ll get used to it quickly and are less likely to improve your running ability.
That’s why it’s important to not limit yourself to the routes you already know and to push your limits by trying new routes on your running program. If you don’t usually run trails, starting is a good idea. Trails are a great way to challenge yourself, and they usually feature hills with peaks and valleys.
Moreover, on trails, every step is different, and there may be a number of obstacles in your way, such as sticks, rocks, and dirt. Learning to circumvent these obstacles during your workout will make smooth terrain seem like a breeze and make you a better runner overall.
4. Eat Better
Diet is a crucial part of running. The saying “you are what you eat” is true, so it’s essential to watch what goes into your body, as it will be reflected in your runs. If your diet consists of fried chicken and donuts, you can’t expect to achieve peak performance.
Be sure to be eating nutritious meals throughout the day to fuel your body for your runs. Having enough protein and a good balance of carbs and fats will give your body the energy it needs to tackle the goals you set for yourself.
Finally, don’t forget to stay hydrated! For longer runs, especially in the heat, you may need to bring water to ensure you don’t overheat.
5. Cross Train
Doing the same exercise repeatedly can adversely affect our bodies, even if that exercise is as simple as running. So if you’re doing nothing but running, you might eventually stop seeing progress and hit a plateau.
This is where cross-training can help. Cross-training involves training in other sports and activities that aren’t your normal sports or activity. The goal of cross-training is to include a variety of exercises in your routine to avoid straining your muscles through repetitive activity.
Common cross-training exercises for becoming a stronger runner include:
- Strength training
Cross-training will give your muscles a much-needed break from running and allow you to strengthen them in different ways, improving your overall performance.
6. Rest More
While you may think the answer to “how to become a better runner” is to run more, that may not always be the case. You may struggle to improve your performance because you’re running too much.
If you run every day, you may start straining your body and impeding progress. Rest days are essential to give your body time to recover between runs.
Not only does resting help you become a better runner, but it also helps prevent a running injury, as overuse injury is the top injury for runners. When you don’t overuse your muscles and joints by taking breaks between runs, you reduce your chance of a running injury and increase your performance.
7. Don’t Give Up
Perseverance is key in learning how to become a better runner. Although it may be tempting to skip a run or to give up entirely, you need to see the bigger picture. That’s why it’s essential to set goals so that you’re always working towards something to improve your running performance.
If you persevere and challenge yourself, you’ll eventually start seeing progress in your runs, whether you can handle a longer distance or become a faster runner. Once you see that progress, you’ll realize it’s more difficult to stop!
Conclusion: How to Become a Better Runner
To wrap up, learning to become a better runner isn’t as difficult as you think. It’s all about taking the steps towards challenging yourself and pushing the limits of what you think you can do.
The most important tip for becoming a better runner is not giving up. After each run, power through every challenge to become a better version of yourself. At the same time, listen to your body and rest when you know you need to.