Expert running tips to improve your time

A new study by Ohio State University researchers released this January found women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients saw their 5k run time improve by almost a minute.

The same women also racked up greater distances during 25 minutes of cycling, and experienced better results in a step-up test.

Inspired by the potential of this supplement in development, here are more other ideas to help improve your running.

Change your pace

If you only do one thing to improve your run times, it should be changing your pace. Don’t plod along at the same speed, run in bursts, sprint up hills, see how fast you can cover a kilometre, and race for home.

Check your fuel

If you know you’re genuinely carrying a few extra kilos, making small diet changes like having egg on toast for breakfast instead of a takeaway muffin or croissant will make all the difference. Equally; however, if you suspect your nutritional intake is too low, you need to address it. Women, in particular, may find simply getting enough iron in their diet can make a significant difference to their performance.

Stay hydrated

It’s easy to skimp on fluids, especially in winter. Even mild dehydration can reduce a runner’s performance by 10–20 per cent. For a rough estimate of how much to drink, multiply your weight in kilos by .033 and that’s how many litres a day you need of non-caffeinated fluid. In addition, take on an extra litre for every hour you run.

Get an expert to look at your stride pattern

If your stride is excessively long, you’ll throw your lead foot out so far you land heavily on your heel, which can act as a brake momentarily stopping you at each stride. It’s also hard on your joints.

Try to ensure your foot lands under your centre of gravity, and teach yourself to take off from the propelling foot when it’s directly under your hips for a more efficient and easy run.

A shorter stride also means a higher leg turnover rate, which is more efficient – it’s like spinning on a bike. Experts say the most efficient rate is about 85–90 steps per minute, that’s counting left or right steps. Counting can also double up as a mind-focussing mantra.

Join a running club

Having other people to train with, pushing yourself to keep up, trying new routes and training regimes, and sharing tips and ideas can revitalise your running performance.

See a sports podiatrist or running shoe expert

Sometimes a specialised shoe can make an incredible difference to the way you run, not just by correcting a bad pronation, but also making sure you land on the correct area of the foot.

Listen to sensory data

In this age of fitness apps and heart rate monitors, it’s easy to forget how to stay in touch with your body. Instead of getting hung up on numbers, focus on your breathing, check how relaxed you or whether you’re clenching your fists or hunching your shoulders. Ask if your stride feels smooth and comfortable like you’re floating over the ground.

Remember to rest

Recovery days are as important as running days. Have at least two active recovery days a week when you walk or swim instead of pounding pavements.

Use your arms

Driving them backwards from the shoulder joint often results in greater propulsion than pumping them forward.

Add in regular sessions of strength training

Squatting, especially single-leg squats, lunging, side planks, deadlifts, and glute bridges will all strengthen muscles and tendons.

Get seven to eight hours sleep a night

One bad night won’t affect your running performance too much, but if you’ve had a week of bad sleep, you’ll start to suffer. Try a sleep meditation if you’re struggling.

Pretend you’re running on ice

Technique and form will both improve efficiency. Run tall, imagining there’s a pole through your body. Keep your arms and hands relaxed – pretend you’re holding a leaf between your thumb and forefinger. Imagine you’ve got headlights in your chest and you want them to shine straight ahead, and think about running on ice to keep your footfall light.

Real Insurance is proud to sponsor the Sydney Harbour 10k and 5k race. Learn more here.