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10 Ways To Become a Better Runner

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As a running coach and veteran runner, I am often asked the question, “How can I become a better runner?” I typically ask the person to hone in on exactly what that means to them. Why? Because your definition of better matters when tackling this question.

Are you trying to get faster? Do you want to be able to run further? Or do you have tangible goals on the table that, in your mind, will mean you are the type of runner you want to be? 

In my mind, to be truthful, the only person you need to be better than is the version of yourself you were yesterday. In other words, just keep striving to be the best version of YOU. 

Having said that, if you have running goals, I am all about helping you to achieve those goals.

What Most Athletes Think When They Say “Better Runner”

There are a few things that most athletes are talking about when they say they want to be a better runner.

Here goes:

  1. Faster: Many people are simply saying they want to be quicker. This could mean for a mile, a 5K, or a full marathon. 
  2. Long Distance Run: Others consider themselves more accomplished runners when they can run for a long time without stopping. I have friends who don’t consider themselves “real runners” because they never run further than a 5K. I have news for you. If you run, you are a real runner.
  3. Consistency: Another mark of a runner who has improved is consistency. This is an important one for me. Many people start, then stop, then start, then stop again. Consistency is important to building strength as a runner. 
  4. Increasing Weekly or Monthly Mileage: Many people find this difficult, even though increasing your mileage is as simple as just tacking a little bit on each week until you reach where you want to be. Consistently increasing and then maintaining a certain level of mileage is another goal many people have. 

How Do I Train Myself To Be a Better Runner?

If you ask yourself how to be a better runner, there are some running tips to follow. 

  1. Make a plan. Having a training plan that incorporates all of the specific things you intend to do is a great step in the right direction.
  2. Find support. This could be a training partner, someone to hold you accountable, or a running group. I meet a weekly running group every Saturday. I have a friend who always joins a training group when preparing for a distance event or race day. That way, she knows that the long run for the week always gets done. 
  3. Get The Right Shoes and Good Gear. This can include many different things. You need everything from running shoes that fit well to wicking socks that keep your feet comfortable and happy. 
  4. Strength Training Matters! Working on your strength is way more important than many people give it credit for. If you are time or money-limited, recognize that there are things you can do in the comfort of your own home with little to no equipment. You can accomplish the perfect strength session if you buy nothing but a kettlebell, resistance bands, and a yoga mat.
  5. Work on your form. Spending some time on drills, lunges, speed work, interval training, or with a coach to perfect your running form. That is time well spent. 
  6. Mix up your training. More on that later. 
  7. Fuel your body. Eat to live rather than live to eat. 
  8. Cross-training. Don’t just rely on running to build cardiovascular strength. 
  9. Always warm-up and cool down. Jumping right into very vigorous activity is a mistake. Take the time to get your body ready to move. 
  10. Honor your rest. This includes getting enough sleep as well as honoring rest days and recovery time.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Better Runner?

This is a loaded question. You will become a better runner simply by committing to a training program and engaging fully in moving forward. This happens in stages.

Each day takes you one step closer to your goals. On the one hand, I would say that in as little as a week of true commitment, you have become a better runner.

running tips
Summer photo created by katemangostar – www.freepik.com

However, to find something you can measure, a solid month of commitment should have you seeing results. 

When I coach an athlete to a goal race, I usually encourage them to dedicate 8-10 weeks to hard work to see measurable results. So far, my athletes have not been disappointed.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Good Runner?

Again, this depends on many factors. What do you consider a “good runner?” Do you measure your accomplishments against yourself or another person in your group? Are you hoping to run the paces you ran in high school or college? Don’t make the mistake of holding yourself up against an elite athlete. 

If you start out running 12-minute miles and your measure is to knock out run a half marathon in under 2 hours, you have a lot of work to do. By that measuring stick, you could be disappointed for a while. However, if you are just looking to be better, that change happens much quicker. 

Setting realistic goals is one big key to finding success and avoiding frustration. 

How Can I Improve My Ability to Run Longer?

If you want to run longer, all you have to do is increase the amount of time you spend on your feet each week.

Conventional wisdom says you should only increase your weekly mileage by roughly 10% each week. Also, your longest run each week should not jump up too high.

If you are following a half marathon training plan, for example, you will see that you typically increase your longest run for the week by a mile or so. Marathon training sessions might have you increasing by two miles. In both of these, the overall weekly mileage does not jump up too quickly.

The only way to get comfortable running longer is to spend more time running. This means increasing both weekly and long-run mileage.

Again, I caution you just not to do either too quickly!

How Do I Become a Faster Runner?

Another frequently asked question is how to become a faster runner. There are many simple keys to success here. 

If you do all of your training at an easy pace of the same distance, you are unlikely to see much improvement. The key to improving your speed is to vary up your training. 

What Type of Training Will Make Me a Faster Runner?

There are so many things you can do to get faster! First, you should vary the type of running you do. This means to include speed workouts, Fartleks and tempo runs into your training. 

You should also get some hill runs under your belt. Hill running makes you a stronger athlete and will certainly increase your heart rate and confidence on all terrains.

how to become a faster runner
Vintage photo created by jcomp – www.freepik.com

Adding core work is another great way to get stronger. Core and other types of strength training help you get quicker.

Doing track or speed work is important to improvement if speed is what you are after. 

Pulling It All Together

If you are looking to improve your running, there are some simple things you can do.

Getting the right gear, committing to your plan, and mixing up your workouts are the top things we suggest to make your goals happen.

Sources

  1. Staff, 32 Running Tips To Help You Become A Better Runner, Sports & Fitness Publication

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