How to Make Your Running Time More Productive

One of the most exciting parts about running is watching yourself improve over time. However, this isn’t always so easy. When you first start, you get better quickly, but after a while, improving can seem like a tall task. I remember when I hit what felt like a brick wall where I just couldn’t reduce my time. I tried loads of different things, and when they didn’t work, I was worried I was “peaking.”

But deep down I knew this couldn’t be, so I said “enough is enough” and set out to find some ways to make my running time more productive. I wanted to share two of these techniques with you today so that you can avoid that feeling of hitting the wall.

Ration Your Energy Effectively

As with most newcomer and amateur runners, I used to exert far too much energy. I used too many strides and would start out way too fast instead of preserving my energy to help me do better overall. This led me to tire out later on, and my time for the session would suffer.

Rationing your energy is one of those “easier said than done” tasks, though. One helpful thing you can do is find your stride rate. Go for a run and when you’re in a comfortable, stable rhythm, time yourself for one minute and count your strides. The amount of strides you use per minute is your stride rate. Olympic athletes run at 180 strides per minute, so this is a nice target to aim for. However, it’s more important to shoot for consistency so that you can have a benchmark to measure improvements and set goals. Finding your stride rate will also help you determine your ideal pace to help you use your energy as efficiently as possible.

Learn Your Metrics

Using fitness devices and apps to learn your metrics is a very effective way to understand your current running abilities and to determine where you can improve. For example, I use the FitBit as well as the app that comes with it to track my running time, distance, calorie burn and other useful metrics.

Having this information makes my runs more dynamic. I can measure my performance on gradients or my average pace to develop strategies to get better. For example, when I first started doing this I realized I would slow down before a big uphill on my route because I had been going too fast at the beginning of my run.  Once I learned this, I started pacing myself better to attack the hill with more energy. This change helped me shave lots of time of my run, boosting my confidence and desire to keep working.

Besides the FitBit, there are lots of running apps to help you track metrics. They are all helpful, but no matter which one you use, they require personal information to work effectively. I always run my activity through a secure connection to make sure everything is protected.

Making your running time more productive is a matter of looking at things differently. Whether it’s your pace, energy use or heart rate, there is always some overlooked area for improvement. Today’s technology makes getting this new perspective much easier so that better results are never too far away.

Author Bio: Cassie is a health and tech blogger with a keen passion for running. She likes to spread awareness for combining technology with running so that people can effectively develop their skills and performance.

What does running do to the body?

With a reported 2 million of us in the UK doing it on a regular basis, running is a popular and thrifty way to keep fit. All you need is a trusty pair of trainers and you’re set to start building up your fitness. But what actually happens to the body when we run, and how do you prevent injuries?

Step by step

As you set off… molecules called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) are unpacked and absorbed by your muscles to get you moving. ATP is distributed as glycogen from your blood, the body’s natural energy and a form of glucose, is broken down.

In the first few minutes… the body requires plenty of oxygen to use glucose efficiently, so your muscles release lactic acid which signifies to the brain that the body is under stress and in need of energy. The brain then increases your heart rate, pumps more blood towards your muscles, and boosts respiration.

Adjusting to the heat… this sudden increase in activity and the burning of calories causes your body temperature to increase. To avoid overheating, blood vessels dilate and move blood closer to the skin’s surface to cool it down. As this happens you should begin to sweat and you may notice that your skin appears red and flushed.

Testing your stamina… eventually, your energy supply will start to dwindle. When this happens, the level of lactic acid in the body starts to surpass that of ATP, resulting in muscle pain and cramps. Your legs will begin to ache and you may start to feel out of breath.

The cool down… once you come to a stop, your breathing and heart rate will normalise. The brain produces endorphins during exercise, so you should be left with a general feeling of positivity and accomplishment.

Get the most out of running

The physical processes of running can do wonders for your fat and muscle balance. With regular exercise, fat is reduced and lean muscle is developed in its place. Muscle increase combined with an improvement to your cardiovascular health makes for a stronger body, and this can result in a superior metabolism. A balanced diet goes hand-in-hand with any workout routine, and running is no exception. You’ll need to replenish burned calories with nutritious foods in order to sustain the development of muscle in line with a reduction of fat.

Avoiding and treating injury

There’s a risk of injury with any form of exercise. Running places stress on your bones and muscles, especially your knees, feet, and ankles. Patellofemoral pain syndrome (commonly known as ‘runner’s knee’), ankle sprain, and shin splints are just some examples of common running injuries.

You should always warm up before any form of exercise to prevent muscle strains and prepare your body for physical activity. Ensure that you are wearing appropriate shoes that are a good fit, provide adequate support to your ankles and cushion the impact of your feet against the ground. If you experience pain or injury from running, seek advice from an expert physician who will be able to provide suitable treatments and can refer you for physiotherapy if appropriate. 

The range of these treatments involves several approaches. These can include a series of regular localised exercises designed to strengthen and improve the movement of a specific area of the body. Hydrotherapy is an option, whereby exercises are undertaken in warm, shallow water. This relaxes muscles and joints, providing support and installing a layer of resistance that works to gradually build strength. Manual therapy and massages can also treat localised problems, relieving pain by improving blood circulation and relaxing muscles. Your physician will be able to explain the best solution for your body and needs.

About One Stop Doctors

Providing quality expert care with a state-of-the-art physiotherapy and movement rehabilitation clinic, One Stop Doctors offers personalised advice and treatments for all aspects of healthcare including running-related problems. The clinic also offers a range of health services including cutting-edge diagnostics, aesthetics, dentistry, and GP care. Click here to find out more and book an appointment.