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The 4 Game-Changing Strategies for Improving Running Performance
Ever felt like you’ve hit a wall in your running game? Trust me, I’ve been there. As a former Division Three middle-distance runner, I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs.
But something is different.
I NOW have a physical therapist brain.
And if I were to take up running again, there would be a LOT I’d do differently.
Let’s talk about 4 of the biggest things I’d change with my running training. Who knows? You might be able to use these tools as well! On with your next PR!
Ditch Heart Rate Training for Power Meters
Back in the day, I was all about that heart rate training life. But let’s keep it 100; it’s FLAWED.
The heart is a muscle. Muscles fatigue. Can the heart rate output be reliable under fatigued conditions?
Moreover, let’s talk weather. Ever tried running at the same pace during a hot summer versus a cold winter? Your heart rate can be WILDLY different. Reducing reliability even further.
Lastly, rarely do the zones change with training. I’ve tested many clients on Cooper’s test. This is a test that gauges the anaerobic threshold.
Although pacing can improve, you don’t see big swings in the anaerobic heart rate zone. Would this not change with training?
There’s a better way.
The Power of Power Meters
Enter the power meter. This bad boy measures the wattage produced at a given pace. Because wattage can improve (i.e. you FAST), it’s a better metric to train with. Watts don’t change with the weather.
The little bit I’ve used this training with my clients has been WAY more impactful than heart rate zones.
Get Specific with Your Mobility
I used to stretch like it was my job. But guess what? I still got injured. Why? Because I wasn’t targeting my specific needs.
Instead of going ham on a broad spectrum of stretches, focus on your actual range of motion deficits. For runners, that often means improving rotation. Simple moves like squatting on a ramp or doing reverse lunges can make a world of difference.
Rethink Your Weight Training
I used to swear by compound and Olympic lifts. They’re great for force output but can limit your rotation at higher volumes.
While I’d still incorporate these tools, I would’ve done a lot more single-arm/leg exercises. These exercises can help improve your mobility and strength that benefits running.
You’re a runner, you don’t need gains. You need to maximize force output and motion.
Take a Day Off, Seriously
Running every day might sound like the key to endurance, but it’s a one-way ticket to Injuryville.
Sure, the aerobic system can take a beating. But your muscles and connective tissues need time to recover. Give ’em time, fam!
Consider taking at least one day off a week. Use that time for active rest like walking or cycling. Your body will thank you.
Improving your running performance isn’t just about running more; it’s about running smarter. Incorporate these 4 strategies into your training and you’ll be running WAY fast!
- Go power meter over heart rate
- Use a mobility routine specific to your needs
- Weight train like a runner –Power and motion
- Take time off…f’real
One of the ways you can take some time off is by walking. But is there a better technique for it? Learn here.