Many people assume that the fastest way to become a better runner is by doing it more often. However, experts suggest that it’s often the efforts and tactics that are made off the course rather than on it that can really work to improve you time, distance and performance abilities. To discover what they are we reached out to Personal Trainer and running extraordinaire, Steve Mellor, who’s provided us with his top ten tips to help you ramp up your running abilities that don’t involve you having to clock in a million miles of jogging.
Put your trainers on, lace them up and close the door behind you. That's the best way to start. People always worry about what's best, but by just simply doing this you're more likely to go for a run.
Make sure you have a great playlist that you update regularly. People have the same music for YEARS, which can become boring and demotivating.
Make it work
Simple measures can really help make a difference. For example wearing a good quality hair band that actually holds your hair in place so it doesn’t annoy you while running really makes a difference. Nike have a great hair band that seems to work well for my clients, as do Sweaty Betty . Similarly buy an iPod arm band so you don’t have to carry your phone while you run. These little changes make the whole experience more fun.
Invest in some secure support
Like everything with sportswear, having items of kit that fit properly and offer the correct support can make the world of difference to your performance - and the same goes for a well fitting sports bra . A good sports bra will help minimise movement, friction and encourage your body to be able to move more freely. Check out brands such as Shock Absorber and Lulu Lemon for their wide variety of shapes, designs and sizes.
Run at different speeds
The key here is that most people just jog at one speed that gradually increases or gets easier over months and months of training, which can become extremely dull. Instead, mix it up with some faster interval sessions: Sprint/run fast for between 60 seconds and three minutes, then walk/jog for the same amount of time. Repeat this for 20 minutes once you’ve warmed up and you’ll boost your speed in no time.
Learn how to stretch your hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors and do this religiously. Especially take time to do the ‘couch stretch’, which is essential to all runners because they get super tight in the hip flexor.
Pump some iron
Don’t be afraid of mixing your week up with resistance and weights training. Being stronger will make you a better runner. In particular, exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges and all their variations are ideal because they make the body more able to apply force in every foot strike. Building on these muscles is also good for injury prevention too.
Follow a plan
Research on Google, read blogs or even just write down your own plan that gets progressively more challenging over time. By doing this you’re much more likely to increase your running and enjoy it more than if you just head out a few times a week for a jog.
Enter a race
This is key. Have a goal, have a focus and you’ll work towards it. There are some great runs such as Run To The Beat and The Color Run that are geared towards making running fun – so sign up.
It’s a long way off but go and watch an inspiring race such as the London marathon. It is by far the most encouraging race you can watch as you see people of all ages, shapes and sizes working their way through 26.2 miles - it gives me goose bumps thinking about it. It truly is an incredible event and a surefire way to get you motivated to get moving.
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