April 11th, 2017 | Fitness
Ways to Improve Your Running
We asked Joe, our expert in biomechanics and physiology, to coach us through some ways to improve our running. From training schedules to foot positions, check out his top tips to run your best.
One of the main things you can do improve your running and reduce the chance of injury is to control the amount of miles/ speed that you run per week. Start low, with about a 5% increase per week. If you start too high and ramp too quickly, you’re eventually going to get injured.
Build up a good mileage base over a few weeks. Start with a slower speed, then gradually go up over time. Stick to an increase of 5% per week and set a realistic goal for yourself that's sustainable. If you get too enthusiastic and run too fast, you'll risk injury.
Set A Schedule
There’s a lot of schedules out there to diversify your routine, and tell you how often or much to run. (The Pace watch added training schedules in its latest update.) Here are some things to keep in mind.
Take Rest Days
In general, try to have at least two - maybe three - rest days a week where you take it easy. This gives your body a chance to recover, particularly your tendons. Your tendons take a lot of load during running, and can sometimes take up to 48 hours to recover mechanically.
Find Balance with the 80-20 Rule
Keep most of your running slow and steady. A lot of studies have looked into how to balance running fast and slow with elite athletes. They find that 80% of training should consist of slow, steady endurance running. That leaves 20% for faster intervals, high-intensity lactate threshold training.
Lastly, think about incorporating resistance training to your routine. This helps reduce the chance of injury. Also, things like pyrometric training (where you explosively jump and land) can improve your running economy and make you a better runner.
Overall, you can consider Body Mass Index (BMI) a good indicator of how hard it’s going to be to run at a certain speed or maintain progression without getting injured.
How Weight Affects Running
Chances of injury generally increase with a higher BMI. You may have the energy to run a certain speed, but with additional weight the impact forces on the body are higher. In turn, this increases the load on your muscles and tendons.
Take care to adjust your speed and mileage based on your BMI. It’s better to be conservative so you don’t get injured.
Form and Body Type
We all come in different shapes and sizes. Aside from managing injury, these differences also affect our running form.
How Form and Body Type Affect Running
Studies have shown that most people actually run with relatively good form for their body. This means their running economy (how efficiently they run) is fairly well-optimized for their body type.
For instance, a lot of studies look at elite athlete runners from Ethiopia with slender calves who run at a very high cadence. With high cadence - the number of steps taken per minute - their feet are moving very quickly step-by-step.
Meanwhile, someone with heavier legs may run with a lower cadence. If you run with a lower cadence, you’ll have a greater stride length. Stride length is basically the distance between when you land with your right foot, and when you land again with your right foot.
One way to improve running form is through stance, especially at contact with the ground.
When landing on your feet, you want your leg to be in front—but not too far ahead—of your hip. If you over-flex your hip or over-extend your knee, then you’re even more likely to be injured. There’s more impact force on the body, which is something you generally want to avoid.
Where To Land On Your Foot
Many studies propose landing with your forefoot and toes, while others recommend mid-foot or heel. They have different benefits, depending on if you’re looking at injury-prevention or running economy.
Because of the varied responses, we suggest starting with mid-foot landing position. From there, you can experiment with different ones very gradually. If you change your running style too abruptly (just as with volume control) you can risk injury.
Here are some ways you can reduce impact force on the body:
- Landing with your forefoot
- Staying in a “Crouched stance” when you run
- Pulling up on your leg as your foot is about to hit the ground
Trade-off: While these techniques may reduce impact force, they require more energy and may make it harder for you to run. There’s a balance between those two worlds. If you consider doing this, take caution and take it easy!
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Got a question or comment about what you just read? Let us know below.