5 Ways of Enhancing Your Running Performance
Being a runner and athlete, if you want to perform at your best and reach your full
potential you need to have a comprehensive approach to your program. Running
performance isn’t just about running and having the best training program. There are so
many factors that we must balance into our weekly routines to help us perform
at our best. There is only so much time during the week and sometimes just getting our
running in can be a challenge, but the more you can start implementing these 5 things
into your week, the better you will perform, the better you will feel, the more energy you
will have and just live an overall healthier lifestyle.
“Being a competitive runner, there is no way I can perform at my best if I am not taking care of myself. Each and every day I make decisions based on how it is going to affect my body and training.” -Coach Meghan
5 Tips to Enhance Performance
1- Good Nutrition
Nutrition is all of the time! From when we wake up in the morning from when we go to
sleep at night, our body needs energy to fuel our day. Being an athlete, this becomes
that much more important to fuel our running performance and recovery! Pre workout
nutrition, during workout nutrition, post workout nutrition & just your everyday nutrition!
- What is your first meal of the day?
- Do you have a routine when it comes to nutrition or
does it vary from day to day?
- Do you have a plan when it comes to weekly nutrition?
As athletes we need to “eat to run, not run to eat”. Our body’s need nutrient dense, real
foods with minimal processed ingredients and extra sugars. I recommend a good mix of
protein, healthy fats and healthy carbs with eat meal.
Do you ever think about what you are consuming and if it is something that is feeding
your body for performance or is it feeding inflammation, fatigued, muscle soreness &
inadequate recovery? When we start to look at our foods in a way of how is this going to
enhance my performance and recovery instead of since I just ran 10 miles, I can now
splurge on whatever I want, we start to notice how we recover better, perform better and overall just live better.
Nutrition is too complex to go into all of the details, but if this is an area that you struggle
with, there are plenty of resources along with small day to day changes you can start
making that will make a big difference to your running and overall healthy lifestyle.
How important is water for our body? We can’t function without it. It is essential for life. It is critical that we replenish our water and stay hydrated. Being an athlete, we accelerate our fluid loss through our running and training. In our body, we are made of 60% water that is soaked up every day by our millions and millions of cells. The leaner you are, the more water you are going to carry since muscle is made of about 75% water. Water helps with transporting nutrients to our cells, regulating body temperature and is a lubricant for our joints. During exercise these are the consequences to % of total body
- At 0.5% it starts to put extra strain on our heart.
- At 1% reduced aerobic endurance
- At 3% reduced muscular endurance.
- At 4% reduced muscle strength, motor skills & heat cramps
- At 5% heat exhaustion, cramping, fatigue, reduced mental
- At 6% physical exhaustion, heat stroke, coma
- At 10%-20% Death.
Being even slightly dehydrated already starts to impact our performance. Imagine what
that is doing to your body while it is trying to perform at its best through your weekly
training. With spring finally here and summer heat on the way, planning our hydration is critical for our running performance and our day to day life. So make sure you are
getting plenty of fluids!!
3- Sleep & Recovery
- How many hours of sleep do you get at night?
- Do you feel rested through out the day and during the week?
We recommend 8 hours of sleep whenever possible. Our body and mind performs best when we sleep between the window of 10pm-6am. From 10pm- 2am, is our body’s physical repair. Growth hormone is typically released around 10:30pm to help our body recover from the wear and tear of the day. From 2am-6am is our body’s mental repair. This is the time when our body mentally refreshes to be able to take on the day. Also when we sleep, it gives our brain a chance to be cleansed through our cerebral spinal fluid. Did you know that our brain has its own lymphatic system to dispose of the wastes that build up from constantly working (since our brain never shuts off) but the only time this happens is when we sleep? I think it is fascinating, but fascinating or not it is absolutely critical that our brain and body gets the sleep it needs to refresh and re-energize to not only take on the day but to help enhance our
running performance and more importantly help us live through out the day!
Do you take the extra time to stretch, foam roll, massage, epsom salt baths, or just light
active to help your body recover?
All of these activities help our body to recovery. As much as you can work these activities into your day to day training or at minimum 3-4 days per week. I already talked about nutrition and hydration which are both essential to recovery, but the more we implement these other activities into our daily lives we can
live healthier, happier and get the most out of our recovery and running performance.
4- Strength Training
How many of you implement some type of strength training into your weekly training?
Strength training is critical for runners and has many benefits! It helps to improve
performance and prevents injury through strengthening your muscles and connective
tissues, improves neuromuscular coordination and power along with improving running
economy with enhanced coordination and stride efficiency. For some people it can be
intimidating go workout by themselves at the gym. Taking group classes like CrossFit,
Barre, Yoga, Pilates, etc can be a great addition to your weekly routine. Working with a
personal trainer or having a program set for your specific to your running goals gives
you flexibility to fit strength training into your weekly running schedule. As a runner there are a lot of exercises you can do with our body weight or minimal equipment that help with running performance. It also does not need to take a lot of time out of your weekly schedule to reap the benefits!
Anywhere from 15-30 minutes 2-3 times per week is even sufficient enough and will help to enhance performance and prevent injury. Take the time to fit strength training into your weekly routine and see the benefits it has for you
and enhancing your running performance!
5. Having a Plan & Goal Setting
- How important is your running to you?
- Another question, how important is your body to you?
For some people running is to stay in shape and to just live a healthier active
lifestyle through something they enjoy doing. For others they have very specific goals
and a timeline in which they would like to achieve them. For others they fall somewhere
right in the middle! No matter what your running goals are, it is always important to have a plan. Without some type of plan it is hard to improve your running performance no matter how big or small your goals are. Running isn’t just about training for a specific
race when it comes to performance. It is also just making sure that you are balancing
out your weekly training with easy and hard workout days at the right paces to enhance
your recovery, feel stronger, faster, more efficient and just to run better! To just live
better! With anything you do in life, the time you are putting into it, you want to know that it is just making you a better person from the inside out. It’s not just about running PRs, but for some it might be able losing weight, preventing heart disease and diabetes and just wanting to live healthier. Coming from a background of being a personal trainer, I worked with all ranges of clients from weight loss to performance to just feeling better everyday. So no matter what your goals are, it is always important to have a plan!
It is not just about performing better, but also just about living better.