Tag Archives: running

Guest post: 4 Ways To Improve Your Running Speed

Whether you run for the joy of it or are prepping your 11th marathon, sooner or later, you’re going to want to boost your running speed—to shave off seconds, or even minutes, from your personal best.

Improve Your Running Speed

If you’ve reached that point, then today you’re in the right place.

In this article, I’ll unravel four training strategies for taking your running speed to the next level.

Let’s lace up and dig in.

Hill Reps

The extra resistance of going up a hill puts a much greater demand on your body and cardiovascular system than running on a flat surface—the more challenging, the better.

Although hills come in various sizes and inclines, the main idea is the same—You run up the hill as fast as you can with good technique, then jog or walk down for recovery.

Here’s how to do them right. Start by locating a hill that’s roughly 150 to 200m in length with an incline that’s enough to test you but not to the point where your form goes south.

Improve Your Running Speed

Then following the warm-up, run up the hill at your 5K pace, or a little bit faster.  Once you get on top, jog down at a very easy pace to recover, then repeat the process for 15 to 20 minutes.

Make it a goal to maintain the same effort level as you climb you the hill. Engage your core, keep your shoulders loose, and gaze straight ahead.

Go Plyo

Plyo training consists of high-velocity, explosive exercises that depend on the power produced through the stretch-shortening cycle by often performing bodyweight jumping movement.

These are an awesome way for you to increase your power output and athletic performance.

Again, don’t take my word for it. A study published in the Journal of Strength And Conditioning Research reported that middle and long-distance runners who did plyometrics for six weeks improved their race results by up to 4 percent.

Just like sprinting, a few minutes of plyometric can go a long way.  Try doing 5 to 10 minutes after completing an easy run or as a part of your weightlifting sessions.

Just make sure to push your body to the max. Here are some of the best plyo moves for runners:

  • Jump roping
  • Box jumps
  • Burpees
  • Med ball toss
  • Jumping lunges
  • Jumping squats
  • Skipping drills
  • Standing long jumps

What’s more?

Typical plyo moves are technically more demanding and call for good form for making the most out of them while staying injury-free. To err on the side of caution, consider hiring a personal trainer to evaluate your form or filming yourself so you can assess your form. 

Strength Train

Not all the steps required to improve your running speed are running steps. Your cross-training activity—as in, non-running workouts—can also greatly impact your ability to crank up the speed and maintain it. One of these favorite cross-training options is strength training.

A regular weight lifting routine achieves the following:

  • Helping run faster by improving power and neuromuscular coordination.
  • Preventing injuries by but not only strengthens muscles but also joints, bones, ligaments, and tissue.
  • Enhancing running economy by promoting stride efficiently and coordination.

Here are some of the strength moves that are the most beneficial to runners.

  • Pushups
  • Planks
  • Back squats
  • Front squats
  • Lunges
  • Deadlifts
  • Nordic curls
  • SB hamstrings curls
  • Russian twists

 To build your routine, feel free to either focus on one area (upper body, lower body, or core) or pick a couple of exercises from each area for a total body workout.

Improve Your Running Speed

Avoid Overtraining

Don’t assume that giving it your all every day will make you better a runner—in fact, push your body too much too soon, and you’ll be asking for injury and burnouts.

When you exercise, especially when you push your body hard, you create micros tears in your muscles. The only way to let those micro-tears and damage heal by letting your body rest.

As a rule of thumb, don’t perform back-to-back days of intense training—at the very least, give yourself one recovery day per week.

How do you know it’s time to ease off?

Here are some of the signs that you’re running your body into the ground.

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic aches and pains
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Inability to focus
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Poor athletic performance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling like you’re getting sick
  • Poor sleep

Conclusion

There you have it. In order to improve your speed, you simply need to put the following tips into practice. Then it’s just a matter of time before you start reaping the results of your hard labour. The rest is just details, as the saying goes.

What about you? Do you have any favorite speedwork you’ll love to share with us? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

About the author:

David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.

Guest post by David Dack
Images purchased by David Dack from Fotolia

Guest post: When should I replace my running shoes?

“When should I replace my running shoes?” This is a common question all runners have. But why should you even consider swapping your running shoes?

Here’s the truth. Even if your shoes feel as valuable as gold, they won’t last you forever.

As you log in more miles, the cushy foam starts to get compressed under the weight, and the outsoles begin to go bald. Once your shoes are past their prime, they can no longer protect your body from the repetitive pounding, leading to soreness and injury.

That’s why it’s always vital to know when to replace your shoes.

old running shoes

To help you make the right decision, I’ve compiled a list of tips and signs to help you decide when your shoes are indeed done. This guide will show you how long-running kicks typically last, the telling sign of a worn-out pair, and when to replace your running shoes.

Sounds good?

Let’s get started.

The Exact Range

Estimates on how long running shoes should last vary, but the rule of thumb says to look for new ones every 400 to 500 miles. This means if you average 15 miles per week, you’ll need new kicks every six to eight months.

Of course, I guess you could keep running in worn-out shoes, but just like driving a car on bald tyres, the risks of something going wrong increases each time you stride the ground.

However, the 400 to 500 miles rule is not cast in stone. It’s simply a rough estimate. The exact mileage depends on many factors, such as your body weight, running style, training intensity, and more importantly, the surface on which run.

So, for instance, if you run on tough terrain or trails, you’ll need to swap your trainers for a new one sooner than if you primarily stick to softer surfaces.

The Signs to Check for

Here’s what you need to do to make sure that your sneakers don’t run you into the ground.

Keep track of your Shoe Miles

It’s often hard to tell just how many miles you have logged in your shoes, especially when you are not following a detailed running plan, or rotate through many shoes.

Here’s how to make it easier.

Use a permanent marker to write down the date of first use on a part of your trainers that won’t get worn off, then keep track of your mileage in a diary to know when it’s time to swap them out.

You should also consider using running apps such as Strava that let you monitor your mileage in different pairs of shoes. Some apps may even inform you once you’re past that 500-mile mark and suggest that you start looking for a new pair.

Check the Outsole

The outsole consists of the rubber part of the shoe that gets in contact with the ground from heel to toe. It plays an essential role because it offers the clearest sign of wear and tear.

The outsoles of your running shoes are equipped with treads, just like car tyres, which helps reduce landing’s impact and grip the road. As you log in more miles, the rubber on the bottom outsole begins to wear away.

Look for any bald spots on the outsole of your trainers where the rubber has broken down.  This is especially the case if the tread is entirely gone or the outsole is completely white.

You’re Feeling Pain

Wear, tear, and mileage aside, one more thing to check whether you need to ditch your shoes is your own body.

When your sole-mate no longer offers ample support and protection as they did when you first started using them, it usually leads to pain.

If you’re starting to experience annoying little pains, especially aching arches, sore soles, painful knees, tender shins, and other small nuisances, then it’s time to assess your shoes.

running shoes

Conclusion

There you have it! The above guidelines are all you need to make sure you know when it’s time to turn off the switch on your running shoes and look for new ones. Just make sure to head to the nearest running speciality store when looking for new sole-mates. That way you make sure you make the right decision both for your wallet and running enjoyment. The rest is just details.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep running strong.

About the author:

David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.

Guest post by David Dack
Images purchased by David Dack from Fotolia

Realise your dream

Regular readers of my blog will know that son1 finished chemotherapy in the summer. He is now trying hard to build his stamina up by participating in parkrun and he has even got me running. Both of us are right at the very back of the field. I think I’m actually running slower than I walk but I never imagined that I would ever run. And I’m even going out for short 10 minute runs alone, so the bug must have bitten.

parkrun wristbands

Son1 is really proud of the two wrist bands that he has earned so far from junior 2k parkrun in which he has now cumulatively run more than the equivalent of a marathon. But he has a dream to get a milestone t-shirt for running 50 of the 5k parkruns. He has run 13 of them so far and should have already got a 10 parkruns milestone t-shirt but it seems to be permanently out of stock in his size.

But we both need plenty of energy for all this running. And as I’ve just received 12 free jars of Sun-Pat peanut butter to review, I was going to come up with an energy boosting breakfast bar recipe. However that will have to wait for a later post, because I have a time-critical competition to tell you about but no time for cooking this weekend whilst I’m working night shifts.

Sun-Pat peanut butter

Do you have a dream you’d love to make a reality? Perhaps abseiling down Big Ben, swimming in Loch Ness, afternoon tea at the Ritz.

Sun-Pat is offering you the chance to realise your ultimate ambition and make your dreams come true for a day. They are running a Fuel Your Dreams competition to help two people experience their dream for a day alongside Olympic hero Adam Peaty and TV presenter Helen Skelton! But be quick. it closes on November 16th.

See http://www.sunpat.co.uk/fuelyourdreams for full details.

Sun-Pat peanut butter

Sun-Pat peanut butter is a natural source of protein, naturally high in fibre, made using 95% peanuts and suitable for vegans. Meanwhile since it is marketed as being great for maintaining energy, I’ve experimented making a peanut butter hot chocolate drink to keep my energy up whilst working night shift.


Peanut butter hot chocolate

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Ingredients (serves 1)

3/4 cup milk
1 tbsp Smooth Sun-Pat peanut butter
2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Method

Fill a large cup, three quarters full of milk.
Place in microwave for 90 seconds, (based on a 900W microwave).
Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate.
Mix well.
Top up with additional milk if desired.
Place in microwave for further 60 seconds, in 30 second bursts, stirring well at halfway point.
Stir well, checking that peanut butter and chocolate are fully dissolved.
Serve and enjoy.

Absolutely delicious. And of course I had a tasty slice of peanut butter on toast too.

Peanut butter hot chocolate

Sun-Pat peanut butter is available in Smooth or Crunchy varieties at most major supermarkets, currently retailing at around £2.79 for a 454g jar. Well worth a buy in my opinion either for cooking or just as a tasty spread.

I’d love to hear your ideas for a recipe using peanut butter? Or your dreams?

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Disclosure. This post is a review of products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.