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7 Simple Steps to Improve Your Running Performance

If you’re a busy person, finding the motivation to exercise, let alone go out running, can be a difficult task. Often, it can seem impossible to juggle everything at once.

Going on a run may be one of the last items on your to-do list and thinking about how you can improve your running performance is perhaps even lower. We all know running is an excellent form of exercise, but you need to put in the mental and physical work to maximise its benefits and make it more effective.

By making small changes to your running and your approach to running, you can increase your distance and pace, as well as decrease the number of times that you need to run in a week. Invest more forethought and reduce the amount of time. Sounds good, right?

So, without further ado, we’ll be going over seven pro tips, spread out over a few topics, to optimise your running performance.

Fix Your Running Form

Woman running during sunset for exercise.

Like with any form of exercise, running has its array of essential techniques to adhere to. It’s easy to say to yourself that you’ve been running for a while, that you’ve already got the hang of it, but read through these cues and descriptions for proper running form. Then ask yourself: “Do I run correctly?”

1. Run With Your Head Tall

No one wants to see you running with a slouch etched into your back. Run as tall as you can, with your shoulders rounded back, core tight, and chest proudly forward.

2. Keep Your Gaze Forward

Your gaze also ties into your posture. By looking ahead, you instinctively raise your head, and your body follows in line.

Keeping your gaze forward and your head up becomes even more important when you start to get fatigued. Fight through the pain by maintaining correct technique and holding yourself high.

3. Use a Mid-foot Strike

One of the most unintuitive things that running calls for is the mid-foot strike. If you see inexperienced people run, you’ll notice that the first part of their feet that touches the ground is the heel. This is something that you should avoid doing, as it transfers pressure to your ankles, knees, hips, and back. Instead, strike the ground with the middle of your foot and carry your weight through onto the balls of your feet.

Focus on When You Aren’t Running, Too

The time you spend out of your running shoes may be just as important as the time you spent exercising in them. Your lifestyle can define the quality of your running and its effectiveness.

4. Make time for running

Making the time for running requires proper scheduling and an understanding of your time. You may have to forego other activities to squeeze in your run, so be prepared to set your priorities beforehand.

Some people prefer exercising in the mornings, some in the afternoon, and some in the evenings. It doesn't matter what time you choose, so long as you find the time and get it done. Do what’s most comfortable for you.

The window of time that you clear for your workout should include your warmup, cool-down, and shower. Your warmup and cool-down should each be at least five minutes long to prevent injury.

5. Watch When and What You Eat

Running doesn’t mean that you have only to eat healthy food 100% of the time. But, it does mean that you have to master the art of moderation. If you eat unhealthy food, it should be in smaller quantities, and not in the frequent amounts that so many of us are used to when in a rush.

Your performance output is directly linked to the foods you choose to eat. We all know that sluggish feeling you get when you eat too many unhealthy (but delicious...) foods like chocolate. This in turn will limit you from performing your best and reaching optimum output, so just bare that in mind.

A general rule of thumb is to eat a proper meal 2-3 hours before you run. This meal should be rich with vitamins, nutrients, and protein. The best way to ensure that you are eating all that you should be eating is by eating a wide variety of food. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and your protein of choice.

6. Hydrate Yourself

Hydration is a key component of any healthy body. The amount of water you should be drinking varies depending on your size, but the general population should drink at least two litres of water a day.

You should aim to drink about 500 ml of water about two hours before your session. If you’re running a long distance, or for more than 45 minutes, then you should consider carrying a bottle of water with you as well. Beyond this level of activity, you may want to start thinking about electrolyte solutions.

7. Get Adequate Sleep

Sleeping enough is something often overlooked by those who always seem to be on the go in their busy lives. But, when you sleep, your body gets the chance to properly rest and rebuild itself. If you don’t sleep enough, then you expose your body to a higher risk of injury as well as decrease its overall performance. To prevent this, adults should sleep 7-8 hours a night, with no excuses.

See you in the next blog post!

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