6 Must-Dos to Improve Running Performance (And Remain Pain-Free)Apr 16, 2023
Whether you are training for an upcoming race or just want to improve the quality of your runs, runners can improve stamina, endurance, distance, and performance in many ways.
What can runners do to remain injury-free and improve their performance? If you want to pick up the pace with your running performance, read these six tips on what runners should do before, during, and after their runs.
- Begin with a dynamic warmup
- End the run with a cool-down
- Perform the couch stretch
- Incorporate strength and mobility training
- Monitor your running volume
- Breath through your nose
1 Begin With a Dynamic Warm Up
A warmup has many benefits that improve running performance. It provides nervous system priming, tissue temperature, mental preparation of how your body is feeling, and increased heart rate.
Including a dynamic warmup prior to your run is superior to static stretching. A dynamic warmup allows for movement within your range of motion. You can prepare for the positions you will need to be able to to get into for a nice run.
2 End Your Run With a Proper Cool Down
For runners, recovery is just as important as training. Instead of abruptly stopping your run, consider incorporating a cool-down by decreasing your pace by a few minutes. During the cool-down period, your heart rate should decrease gradually and this is the time for a static stretching routine or a foam roller.
3 Perform the Couch Stretch
A key stretch for runners to avoid pain is the “couch stretch”. A stretch that provides several benefits, the couch stretch is used by runners to open up the hips, relieve tightness in your hips, alleviate knee and improve mobility and performance.
Hip extension the ability to move your hips backwards is only about 10-15 degrees, it's not much. This is an essential position all runners need to be able to run. If you are missing hip extension, our body will compensate in one of these two ways.
How runners can perform the couch stretch:
- Arch the back [insert arched back position]
- Shorten stride and use the inner thighs (adductors) and hamstrings to help create stability and force absorption. As we typical see it, feel like the hips are always tight or knee pain
4 Follow a Strength and Mobility Training Program
Logging more miles does not always mean that runners will perform better while decreasing risk of injuries. Resistance training can be a great adjunct to a running program and longevity, creating strong bones, endurance training, load and force management.
Strength and mobility training can help runners prepare their tissues to absorb about 2-3 times our body weight. Incorporating a consistent strength and mobility routine will help runners, especially those older in age, maintain muscle mass. This will get your legs and your body ready for longer and faster runs.
5 Monitor Your Running Volume
When preparing for a big race or a ramp up of training after some time off, it is important to follow a program. A program helps runners know when there should be times of an increase of miles or a deload week.
With an increase of miles, make sure you are monitoring your 5 pillars of health [insert link to 5 pillars of health blog] and maximizing recovery sleep. There are many platforms that can help runners monitor their training beyond volume, including intensity, frequency, and how your body is feeling.
6 Breathe Through Your Nose
Proper breathing while running can help you improve your performance. While most runners may use both nose and mouth breathing, research shows that nose breathing is preferred.
You might have heard your coach say breathe through your nose. Why do we coach nasal breathing? With nose breathing, you send more oxygen to your muscles and brain. It also helps you slow down your breathing, to inhale more deeply.
There are a lot of breathing protocols out there. How do you choose which one is right for you?
Try touching the tongue to the roof of your mouth, and breathe deepl through your mouth. Try doing this on your next walk or easy pace movement, for instance, taking the stairs or an easy warmup or cool down on the air bike.
Ultimately, nasal breathing helps runners train better, running further and faster.
Running Performance and Physical Therapy
Want to remain injury-free and improve your performance as a runner? Be sure to follow these tips. If you are experiencing pain or injury during or after your runs, the Las Vegas physical therapists at White Wong PT. We can put together a personalized PT plan to get you running pain-free.
Looking for ways to maximize your recovery?