How to Improve Your Running Efficiency
It is important to ensure that you have a sturdy pair of running shoes that fit not only your feet but are appropriate for the terrain that you are running on. For treadmill running and road running, wearing a pair of durable running shoes with comfortable heal support is a good place to start. For track running and sprint training, spikes or more curved sole running shoes might be better. For trail running, a sturdy pair of running shoes with more grip and groves on the bottom for added support and stability may be needed. Asics recommends that your running shoes are replaced every 724-885 kilometers. Asics also suggest that if your running shoes don’t have any signs of excessive wear or use, you may be able to wear them slightly longer than the recommended usage without injury.
Furthermore, it is important to take into account the weather before you set out on an outdoor run. Proper attire is essential to avoid over heating or becoming too cold. Ultimately, clothing should offer sun protection, have moisture wicking and quick drying material, and proper insulation/air flow depending on weather. Clothing as such will help keep your body cool and ensure optimal comfort as your internal body temperature increases during the run.
- Warm weather: clothing should help wick away sweat, quick drying, cooling and provide sun protection
- Cool weather: layers that still optimize air flow , gloves, hear protection.
Sun protection is also another key aspect to take into account when running outdoors. Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) apparel offers UV (ultraviolet)A and UVB ray protection and is beneficial for outdoor runs on sunny days. The higher the UPF rating the greater the protection from UVA and UVA B.
Below is a link to an article outlining everything you need to know about sun and UV protection when exercising outdoors:
Proper Running Form
To improve your run and ensure that the strides you are putting into your exercise are the most beneficial to your efforts, there are a couple different tips to take into consideration:
- Make sure that you are staying hydrated before, during and after your exercise. This helps to limit cramping and quicken the healing process after your workout.
- Be prepared and ensure that you are in proper running gear and are prepared for not only the terrain in which you are running on, but also for the climate you will be exercising in.
- Do not do too much too quickly. Plan ahead for your workout and have a progressive running plan.
- Check your posture throughout your run, make sure that your hands and shoulders are relaxed, your hands are resting comfortably at your waist, your strides are at a comfortable distance for you and that you are not landing too hard upon impact.
Below is an infographic from shape.com that highlights six check points for running posture and form. The following link is to the shape.com article for further information: https://www.shape.com/fitness/cardio/proper-running-form
Strength Training for Runners
Incorporating strength training between runs is a beneficial way to increase your running efficiency, improve recovery time and decrease risk of injury or pain. Strength training will help maximize your leg power when running up hills or during higher intensity running. Furthermore, improving muscular strength is a great way to increase neuromuscular coordination which will in turn improve stride efficiency allowing you to run faster and further with minimal risk of injury.
Below are a couple options to incorporate into a strength training workout in addition to your running routine
1. Balance and coordination
Unilateral movement such as split squats or lunges increase stability, fixes any asymmetries in the lower body and increase muscular balance and coordination to improve joint stability and optimize stride efficiency.
a. Split squat – begin with one foot resting on a bench and slowly lower down. Hold briefly, then push through powerfully to return to the start position. This move can be done with body weight or weighted with dumbbells or kettlebells for added challenge. Perform this movement for 1-3 sets of 1-10 reps per leg. Progress to 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps per leg.
b. Lunge – begin standing with feet hip width apart and take a big step forward with your right leg while shifting your weight to this leg so your heel strikes the floor first. Lower your body down until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Drive your right leg backwards to return to the starting position. Repeat on on each side for 1-3 sets of 1-10 reps. Progress to 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps. For added challenge you can hold dumbbells in your hands.
During each of these movements, be aware of your breathing pattern to ensure you aren’t hold your breath. Breathe in as you lower yourself down in each of the split squat and lunge and exhale out as you drive yourself back up to the starting position.
2. Explosive power
Movements that focus on explosive power in your lower body are key to optimal running speed and efficiency of muscle fibre recruitment to enhance running performance.
a. Kettlebell Swing – beginning in a squat stance with the kettlebell between your legs, force your hips forward to drive the kettlebell to swing upwards to around eye level in controlled manner . At the top of the movement, squeeze your glutes holding this position briefly and begin to swing the kettlebell back down to a squat position in a slow and controlled manner by engaging your core. Perform this movement for 1-3 sets of 1-10 reps. Progress to 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.
3. Core and upper body
Core strength is essential to ensure stability of your torso and prevent unwanted side to side movement while you are running. A weak core puts strain on other parts of your body such as your lower back and knees which can put you at risk for injury.
a. Plank – brace your core to maintain keep a flat back. You can perform this on your knees or an easier variation, on your feet and forearms or feet and hands for added challenge. Hold for 30-60 seconds and perform 2-3 sets. For added challenge, place a weighted plate on your back.
b. Walkouts – standing with you feet hip width part, bend over and place your hands on the floor. Walk your hands out until you reach a plank position. While bracing your core, hold in the plank position for briefly before walking your hands back to the starting position. Perform this movement for 1-3 sets of 1-10 reps. Progress to 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.
If you are just starting out with strength training, begin with 1-3 sets of 1-10 reps 1-2 times a week. As you begin to increase your strength and ability to do each exercise, progress to 2-5 sets of 8-12 reps 2-3 times a week to optimize muscular strength and hypertrophy.
Orthotics and Bracing
Orthotics for Running
The right move now offers Footmaxx custom orthotic solutions. During an orthotics assessment we carefully evaluate a patients postural alignment, motor control, functional movements and investigate any pain being experienced. This is exceptionally useful for patients who participate in long term distance running. The use of orthotics helps to correct the patient’s posture and gait patterns. Footmaxx uses a pressure map gait scanner that provides us with instantaneous representation of weight distribution, pressure points and centre of pressure. In running practices, this ensures that the clients landing while running is not causing distress to joints’ or uneven weight distribution upon running impact.
For more information on orthotics, go to our services tab and select orthotics.
Bracing for Running
Alongside the Footmaxx orthotics, the right move will now be offering BREG bracing. Bracing offers many benefits, such as enhanced structural support, this will provide further protection to athletes from injury and allow them to continue engaging in sport. This will be highly beneficial for running athletes, the custom brace will provide structural support for joints upon impact. Bracing can also provide pain-relief for our clients, it can alleviate joint pain and stress associated with osteoarthritis.
Further information associated with BERG bracing can be found under, our services- bracing.
For more information regarding orthotics and bracing or to book an appointment with Ian Gilchrist for this service, please reach out via email at email@example.com or by phone (613) 384 3222.