Whatever distance you are running, as a runner you always want to better your time, writes Deepthi Velkur.
Short or long distance runners always focus on improving time to give their performance an extra edge. You can better your running time with simple changes listed here and thus make your runs more gratifying with a reduced risk of injury.
Tweak your running technique
Changes in your running style make a world of difference to your efficiency, timing and injury risk. Follow simple techniques like running tall with the body leaning slightly forward, striking the ground between your heel and forefoot, swinging arms back and forth at a 90-degree angle, loosening up your shoulders and holding up your chest to maximize the oxygen intake.
Increase your cadence with shorter strides. Try and land 180 times a minute with your feet landing below your body. If your falling behind, strive on improving your cadence by 5% each time till you reach the target of 180.
Speed bursts Incorporate speed drills into your routine such as fartlek, interval and tempo workouts. Alternating between fast and slow runs and variations in the distance covered with each run aids in strengthening your muscles and improve your running time and efficiency. Plan one long run per week at a pace up to 75 percent of your race pace. Mix it up by adding short, fast runs, done at race speed, and intervals during the week. A hill workout also builds strength and endurance thereby increasing your timing.
Get Uncomfortable Do not be scared of getting uncomfortable. When you are first picking up your pace your whole body will burn and your lungs will be screaming for you to stop. You will have more lactic acid build up and might feel fatigued. It may be a strange feeling to experience but as you practice the stress of the sensation will be replaced by happiness.
Strength Training Once or twice a week of strength training that includes exercises like burpees, squats, single-leg dead-lifts, lunges, and planks. Body weight exercises, involving 10-20 reps per set, are effective, but 4-6 reps per set with heavy weights are better for improving speed.
Watch your diet Running helps burn calories and it is essential to follow a good nutritious diet that includes complex carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables, good fats and protein. This assists in increasing glycogen stores and builds muscle mass that will help you pick up your running pace.
Good running shoes Getting too much out of your running shoe is not advisable as they begin to lose their cushioning and stability, affecting both your gait and cause injury. It is recommended to change your running shoes every 400 to 800 km depending on the surface you run and wear and tear of the shoe.
Adequate rest Rest is critical to your recovery and prevention of injury. Taking a complete day off in the week helps your muscles to build and repair themselves. Running with strained muscles means that you will not be able to push your body beyond a limit and you might also tire faster.
Hill Training Running on slopes is a great way to build strength. Find a fairly steep climb that will give you at least a 50 -100 m uninterrupted stretch. Run hard and fast uphill and walk down slowly. Repeat at least 5 times to start with and then increase the repetitions and number of days.
It is possible to shave off the seconds, and eventually the minutes from your finish timing. Train smart and run hard and you should definitely better your race timings.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.