3 Ways to train smarter for better performance.
Whether you’re a couch potato dreaming of your first 5K or a veteran runner, give your workouts some thought before heading out the door.
Quad City Physical Therapist Dan White, ORA Physical Therapy, says “it’s not one week or one workout that makes us faster, but working smart for many weeks and months,” that will add up to a stronger you.
Strategy 1: Mix it Up
If you want to increase distance, speed, and endurance over time, don’t just run the same way every single workout. “You really need to mix up your training,” advises Dan. That means combining easy runs for 60-80% of the time with occasional faster workouts. Easy means being able to comfortably carry on a conversation. Then once or twice a week, change it up with a tempo run or speed workout. “At these levels, it’s harder to talk for long periods of time, but this is important because the increased speed is teaching your body to go further, before you feel the muscle burn of lactic acid building up in your tissues.”
For newbie runners, the goal is to build to these workouts slowly. “I tell new runners, at any age, start a walk/run combination workout. Walk for a block, then run a block, and gradually increase your distance over time. Too much too soon just results in injury and frustration,” Dan says.
Watch Dan’s advice for new runners
Strategy 2: Strength Train
“Many runners I know just want to run, not hit the gym,” says Dan. But strength training can improve performance and prevent injury. Strengthening your upper body, your abdominal core, hips, and legs can ensure you remain upright and well aligned. Slouching from fatigue and overcompensating for bad form can result in painful and sideline-inducing hip and knee injuries.
Watch Dan explain strength training benefits
Strategy 3: Cross Train with Cardio
“Cross training is also great for new runners and veterans alike,” says Dan. Complementary workouts that include swimming, biking or walking can build different muscle groups and prevent overuse injuries from the same pavement-pounding routine day after day. “This is especially important for new or older runners,” says Dan. Mixing in some lower-impact workouts will prevent high-impact injuries while still building endurance.
Watch what Dan has to say about cross training
“The goal is to build your cardio strength without injuring your bones, muscles or joints in the process.” After all, the point of your workouts is to keep moving, not end your summer prematurely on the sidelines.