Fri. Dec 4th, 2020

Become a better runner – Three things to prioritise in 2020. Part 1

5 min read

Often when we look into becoming a better run we focus only on our running and prioritise training improvements. While these will have benefits taking a holistic approach to runner can have great benefits also.

Thinking slightly outside the square here are three things to prioritise that will help you become a better runner in 2020.

Movement

It is fair to say most everyday people with a career and family don’t move enough throughout their day. This is also accurate for runners. If we mostly live a sedentary lifestyle at home and work than an hour of running won’t be enough movement to power our lives. We will still be a sedentary being.

The human being is designed to move throughout the day. It is important to ward off all types of ailments and keep our bodies and mind in shape. Moving from a sedentary life to an active life means complimenting your running with movement through the day and this mean walking. Keep moving throughout the day, even if you have a job where you are required to be at a desk. There is huge benefits to life and running for people who prioritise movement. Break up your work day with short walking breaks throughout the day, get yourself out of a chair more often and moving regularly. If you can’t introduce walk breaks as often as you’d like then prioritise getting from your chair and squatting as often as every 20 minutes.

If your GPS running watch counts steps wear it throughout the day and increase your step goal. 10000 steps is not enough for an adult human to be moving each day. For runners look at setting a goal of 15000 -20000 each day regardless of your age or gender.

Sleep

The importance of sleep cannot be overstated. As runners we push our limits of time management in order to fit running into busy lives. Often at the expense of sleep. 

Sleep is important for athletic performance as well as weight control, stress relief, heart and overall health and wellbeing. Prioritising how much sleep you are able to get you will allow yourself to perform better every time you go running as well as every other aspect of life.

How much sleep do you currently get on a regular basis? And how do you prioritise sleep so you can fit running, work, family and life into it?

There are only 24 hours in the day and you need 7-8 hours for sleep on a regular basis before it starts to impact your life. The human body is a resilient animal and will find a way to cope on less sleep but you won’t gain the benefits that prioritising sleep will give. Do you often get sick and still try and force yourself to continue life at breakneck speed.  It’s probably because you aren’t getting adequate sleep.

Roger Federer routinely sleeps 10 hours per day. Clearly he doesn’t have a 9-5 job that he needs to be present at and therefore doesn’t need to be up at 5am to fit his morning run into his life schedule. However he clearly prioritises sleep in order for him to perform at his athletic best, and he’s been able to stay at the very top of his chosen sport for a long time.

If you are prioritising sleep you have a plan when you go to bed and you adhere to it more often than not. Most smartphones will have a function to schedule your sleep patterns so you can plan your sleep patterns. It’s up to you though to not let modern distractions of technology interfere with getting your sleep habits on track. Netflix will wait till tomorrow, as will Facebook and Instagram. 

Prioritise sleep and you’ll power yourself for running and also every aspect of life. Prioritise sleep and you’ll be able to wake early ready to give your best to your running and become a better runner.

Designed to help the body with cellular energy and cardiovascular endurance.

Foot Strength

Strong feet are your foundation to being a better runner. With a strong foundation your running is compromised. If you prioritise foot strength you will build a strong foundation that helps you consistently run injury free.

If you are able to remain injury free you will put together weeks, months and ultimately years of injury free running. Running improvement is built over time and building mileage over time without injury will ultimately make you a better runner.

In order to prioritise foot strength you should consider some of your running being done in minimal shoes. If you are not interested in transitioning to barefoot style footwear at least spending some of your time running in flatter, thinner and more flexible footwear will help build strength. Otherwise spend more time barefoot, both indoors and outside. If you are prioritising movement spend some of this time spent walking spent walking barefoot. Walking barefoot will be powerful in improving foot strength. 

Traditional footwear for both running and life does nothing to help foot strength and mostly hinders foot strength as it doesn’t allow the foot to move naturally. Footwear that includes a heel lift, narrow toe box and is inflexible and has excess cushioning is not helping your feet. As an alternative to running in barefoot style footwear perhaps consider using barefoot style footwear in other aspects of life. Whether that be work or social engagements. The less time you spend in footwear that is limiting your feet’s ability to move naturally is paramount to improving foot strength.

There are many training specific ways you can focus on becoming a better runner. Looking outside general running related goals can be beneficial. These are just three ways you can look at becoming a better runner, mostly without running another step.

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By focusing on a holistic approach to fitting running into an overall healthy lifestyle you’ll gain benefits before you step outside to go for a run. Combine these with small changes in your training habits and you’ll be on a well-worn path to personal running improvement.

In part 2 we will look at the small changes you can make to your training habits to become a better runner in 2020.

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