8 Ways to be the Most Efficient Runner

Running can become one of the most enjoyable and addictive forms of exercise. Ever heard of the runner’s high? But the runner’s high can become a real low if not approached properly. Whether you are an avid runner or a beginner, proper running technique and training is an absolute must to ensure your success. Try out these 8 simple tips so that you can truly hit the ground running.

1. HYDRATE:

Generally, you should be drinking water in small amounts and regularly throughout the day. Before your run, try drinking about two glasses of water (or a sports drink) an hour before. While running, make sure to hydrate around every 15-20 minutes. After your run, replenish the body with another 16 ounces (two glasses) of water or sports drink. Feel free to drink more if you went for a run longer then an hour. You don’t want to wait until you are thirsty to drink water. If you are thirsty, you have waited too long and your body is dehydrated. You also want to avoid drinking so much water, you feel heavy or you hear the sloshing around in your stomach. If you are running in a very hot condition, make sure to drink more fluids. A sports drink is a great alternative for those runners who are more aggressive and prefer long distance. It provides some sugar and electrolytes to boost energy.

2. RUN TALL: 

Leaning far forward and looking at the ground while running creates an inefficient stride and causes poor posture.  Instead, try to lift your upper body up.  Pull your shoulders in and head back and look about 15 feet in front of you.

3. USE YOUR ARMS:

Arms are such an important part of running. They provide power for the runner and balance. Pulling your shoulders back, run with your arms bent at 90 degrees and keep them pointing straight ahead, avoiding any crossing in front of the body. Try to keep the hands light and fingers slightly loose.

4. STRENGTHEN AND POWER:

Weight lifting and plyometrics (reactive training) is extremely helpful if you’re looking to become a more efficient runner. With the constant compression on the body while running, muscle imbalances can occur and weight lifting helps to protect the joints. The main focus should be strengthening the legs, glutes, core and back. Simple exercises like squats, lunges, core plank (any kind of plank will do) and back flys or rows (with resistance bands, cable or weights) are sufficient. If you’re looking to build more power, adding plyometrics will enhance strength and speed. Plyometrics are explosive exercises such as jumps. However, plyometrics (if performed incorrectly) can increase the risk of injury. So make sure that form is the first focus for any jump (watching your feet, knees, hips and back) and keep the plyometric training to a minimum of once a week at first.

5. STRIDE:

Stride is simply how many steps you take per minute while running. To count your stride, count how many steps you take for 15 seconds and then multiply that by four. Ideally, your stride will eventually fall somewhere around 180 strides per minute.

6. STRETCH:

Stretching cannot be overemphasized enough here. As far as injury prevention goes, stretching is definitely high up there on the list. Runners typically tighten through their hamstring, quadriceps, calves, hips, chest and lower back. If not adequately stretched, muscular imbalances occur and can hinder the progress of your running ability and efficiency.

It is still up for debate whether you should stretch before your run or just after. But studies have shown that if you’re going to stretch before, dynamic stretching (warming up with active movements that takes the muscle through a full range of motion) versus static stretching (holding a stretch in an isolated position) is a much better choice. However, this hot topic is still under a microscope. But no one debates the benefits of static stretching after your run. Stretching the hamstrings, calves, quads, hips, back and chest will greatly benefit the body. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, at least, to create more blood flow to the area and reduce potential soreness.

7. STAY LIGHT ON YOUR FEET:

A heel strike, meaning you land first on your heel when running, is a sure fire way to slow down your run and hurt the hips and knees. Try staying light on your foot. Try to strike more on the mid front of the foot while running. In some cases, runners prefer to stay on the forefront of their foot. But, no matter what, avoid landing directly on the heel.

8. SHOES:

Ever heard of the phrase, “If the shoe fits?” Well, this is not the case for running. Every foot type is different and requires a specific type of shoe for proper foot support. Some feet have high arches, no arch, over or underpronate. Some runners naturally hit the ground first with their heel or on their toes. All of these details require a different type of shoe. Make sure to go to a specialized running shoe store so that they can look at your gait and measure your foot. You may be the type of runner that needs more support. Or you might prefer little to no support at all. Whatever it may be, honor your unique feet and take the time to learn what is the right footwear for you.




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