3 Ways To Be A Better Runner

by Michele Lian · 2 comments

reebok-challenge-runner

DM-ReebokWeekendChallenge-LogoTo be a better runner, you need to do OTHER things than just run. In today’s guest post by Coach Michele, we discuss some training tips below that you can get started on right away to improve your speed and fitness.

Over the past three weekends, the DailyMuscle team has hosted over 100 runners who will be taking part in the Reebok One Challenge 18.95K 2013, and there’s more to come this weekend, at the last installment of the DailyMuscle Weekend Challenge, powered by Reebok.

It has been so inspiring to witness these individuals show up, show their best and show everyone the true spirit of sportsmanship – motivating each other, and never giving up no matter what.

But while almost everyone aced the running portion of the challenge – it comprised a one-kilometer run, 80 push-ups, 90 squats and a 500-meter run with a 7KG sandbag – many struggled with the push-ups and squats, and the overall metabolic demand that a challenge like this involves – a sign that they hadn’t been strength/cross- training adequately in their regular routine.

And the speed demon is…

The fastest man we’ve had at the challenge so far (congratulations Prakash Imba Superman Ironman Batman Flash…what an amazing name!) clocked in at 10 minutes, 3 seconds, while the fastest woman, Marie Josephe Jean-Pierre, finished at 11 minutes, 51 seconds.

But so far, no one has been able to beat our very own in-camp winner, Vinesh Tee Chee Siong, who finished the challenge (which we simulated at camp for fun one day) in 9 minutes, 26 seconds.

What was his winning edge? Vinesh cross-trains – including runs, strength training at his gym, and circuit-style total-body workouts – the type we put our campers through at our program.

Don’t run into trouble

Don’t get me wrong, running in itself is a great way to strengthen your heart, boost your microcirculation and relieve stress, but if it’s all you’re doing, you’re likely to have tight and overdeveloped calves, a tight lower back and hamstrings, and a weak upper body, quads and abdominals.

The big picture

The key to not just surviving, but thriving in a challenge like this, and the Reebok One Challenge, is achieving balance in the areas of aerobic conditioning, strength, flexibility and rest. If running is your go-to cardio routine, try other types of activities and exercises that also work the rest of your body. This is so you don’t set yourself up for overuse injuries (read: muscle breakdown or loss, and stressed-out joints) or the neglect of areas that could use more attention.

Similarly, if weight training makes up the core of what you do, with minimal running or any type of cardio for that matter, you’re probably going to struggle during the running portion of the race.

Your training guideline

So what else can you do you do to prep yourself for a race like this besides run? Follow these tips and you won’t go wrong:

  • Circuit train
    Give your mind and body variety by performing a series of strength and/or cardio exercises that you do back-to-back for several sets on days you don’t run. Or, incorporate your strength circuits into your run routine. One of my favorite things things to do is to run a fixed distance (say the length of a field and back) followed by 10-20 reps each of  3-5 strength exercises (with or without portable toys like a medicine ball, kettlebell, resistance band, or even the equipment at a park), repeated for several rounds. You can choose to keep your circuit to a moderate intensity, or take it up a notch or two if you feel it’s too easy.Here’s something we do at our camp that should give you a better idea:

    We invite you to join one of our FREE trial sessions at the DailyMuscle Body Transformation Camp, where you’ll be working out with like-minded campers and coaches who’ll help motivate you in a bootcamp-type environment.

  • Up your intensity
    If you’re used to running at a moderate pace for long distances, try incorporate high-intensity interval training (often referred to as HIIT) into your routine. HIIT workouts alternate between high-speed and rest intervals, and typically take you to around 80-95% of your maximum heart rate and can significantly increase your fitness level (it can do wonders for your body’s ability to utilize the oxygen it takes in, helping you go longer and faster) when done regularly (the HIIT principle can also be applied to your circuit training – remember, the intensity is up to you). The ‘work’ or speed portion of the workout can last anything between 10 seconds to 3 minutes, and your recovery or rest portion can last as long as, or longer than the the time you spent ‘working’. If you’re new to this type of training, I’d recommend starting with a conservative speed portion of between 10 and 20 seconds, and resting for an equal amount of time, observing how your body responds, and then increasing your speed time and reducing your recovery from there. Remember: Check in with your doctor if you’re unsure about beginning a new training program.
  • Stretch and rest
    The last thing you want to do while training for a race is to run yourself into the ground. Remember to stretch after every workout (every day if possible), and aim to give yourself a day’s rest in-between workouts, especially if they’re intense. Try alternating your run and strength workouts with other activities like swimming, cycling or even yoga and tai chi. Your body (and mind) will thank you for it!

For more strength-building tips, read my previous guest post, 3 Ways To Get Stronger…And They’re Not What You Think!

Good luck with your training and see you at the DailyMuscle Weekend Challenge powered by Reebok this Saturday!

About the author

Michele Lian Michele Lian, ACE-CPT, is a word-obsessed fitness & health writer by day, and sweaty fitness enthusiast as well as Lead Coach at the DailyMuscle Body Transformation Camp by night. Some people think she's fitness-crazed and some don't, but her goal is simple: To live as healthily as she can, and help others do the same. You can read all about everything else she's been up to at thefitedit.com.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Azmir September 13, 2013 at 10:56 am

This article made so much sense! After joining DMTC for a couple of months incorporating all of the abovementioned training regimes, no wonder I felt I was running better in a recent 12k run!

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Noel Chelliah September 14, 2013 at 11:18 am

Well done Azmir!

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