Progression In Running: How To Improve

Countless scientific studies have shown the immense benefits that running has on the human body, there are a host of different ways that you can improve.

Progression In Running: How To Improve

Whether you are somebody who is new to running, or you’ve taken a break and hung up your shoes for a while, this article explores how you can progress at a good pace.

Although it can be tough at first, the journey to becoming a great runner will be worth it in the end.

To find out more about how to progress in your running career, read on, as we take a look at some of the steps you can take.

How Is Progression Defined?

Chances are that if you’re reading this article, you don’t just want to run casually and see little to no benefits from your exercise.

To become a great runner and evolve at a steady pace, you need to be willing to keep an eye on your progression.

To reach each new stage of your journey, you have to be willing to challenge yourself. This will mean continuously upping the pace of your training as your body becomes more adept at the exercise.

Each time that you feel yourself reaching the next milestone, you must increase the training load.

If you don’t do this, your body will become accustomed to the stage that you’re at, and the improvements will be insignificant.

This is an issue not just for runners, but all different types of exercise, be that bodybuilding, or athletics, if you are continuously doing the same thing each day, it won’t yield any different results.

In order to progress well there are a number of different things you can do to challenge yourself.

7 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Get Better At Running

The first thing that we need to look at is how to motivate yourself to get running in the first place.

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been sitting at your computer and decided to find some tips, which shows that you already have the desire to start running.

To build on that desire, there are a number of different ways that you can help to motivate yourself on your running journey. In order to do this, take a look at the helpful tips below.

1. Track Your Progress

Progression In Running - How To Improve

The best way to challenge yourself on your next run, is to make sure that you’re monitoring your progress along the way.

Because we live in such a technological age there are a number of ways that you can do this.

GPS wrist watches and heart rate monitors are a few different methods of doing this, along with a host of different apps that are designed for this specific purpose.

Tracking your runs is truly one of the best ways to stay motivated. Just having the knowledge that you’re only 200 meters away from the next milestone will be enough to keep you going.

2. Listen To Music

Scientific studies have actually shown that listening to music has an impact on performance when it comes to running.

The use of music as an ergogenic aid enhances performance both by increasing intensity and effort. Many seasoned runners will tell you that they never leave the house without their earphones.

According to a study conducted in 2017, more than half of US runners say that they love listening to their favorite playlist on a run.

It can help in a wealth of different ways, not only by elevating your mood, but also helping you to keep a consistent pace.

Some people may prefer not to listen to music because they believe that listening to cues such as their breathing or the sound of their feet on the ground will provide them with the necessary information to keep their pace.

This isn’t necessarily true, however. In a study conducted by PLoS One, it was found that runners performed better when listening to the beast of music and matching it with their steps.

Therefore, if you listen to faster paced music, you are likely to keep in the rhythm of this while you run. In addition to this, enjoying the music and getting distracted by it can help you to go for longer.

3. Get Some Cool Running Gear

Those who run know that you need to be in a specific mindset before you start, and buying some special running clothes can help you to achieve this mindset.

If you are wearing clothes that help you to feel confident and help get you in that zone, it will be massively beneficial to your progress.

You can even set yourself a reward scheme, where you buy yourself that new pair of sneakers you’ve been dreaming about when you hit your next milestone.

Also, in terms of functionality, having the right shoes for your progression is also important, so buying ones that have been tailored for this purpose will really help.

4. Join A Club

It can sometimes be helpful to have the support of other people who are also avid runners around you.

Most major cities will have several running clubs that you can join to meet fellow runners. This is a fantastic way to not only meet new people, but also discover new running routes, and elevate your competitive side.

By witnessing somebody else’s progression, this will, in turn, motivate you to do better too. If you’ve made a prior commitment to run with other people who are depending on you for support too, you’re more likely to show up and make the effort.

If you can’t find any running clubs near you, why not just set up your own? This could be a great way to get some friends involved.

5. Challenge Yourself

Progression In Running - How To Improve

As well as getting some devices or apps to monitor your progress like we mentioned above, you could also set yourself a real-life physical goal to conquer.

Although you’ve already got all the details on your smart-phone, you could set yourself little challenges like running at a faster pace over a particular distance.

You could also see how many times in a month you can do, and keep pushing this target. Maybe in your local city there is a particular object that you can see each time you run, like the statue in the Rocky movies.

You could set yourself even smaller goals and see how fast you can reach this object. It’s all about keeping things interesting and giving yourself stuff to accomplish on a regular basis.

6. Consume Media Related To Running

A great way to motivate yourself as a human being is to simply watch, read and listen to things which are related to the subject you are learning. You could go to your local library and pick up some books related to the history of running.

Simply learning about other great runners out there who have achieved amazing feats in their lifetimes could encourage you to do better too. Learning what motivated these great runners could help to motivate you too.

If reading isn’t your thing, there are lots of great movies out there too that could help you. We mentioned the iconic Rocky movie above, but there are so many others out there too.

A movie we would recommend is Race, which features the life story of the amazing athletic superstar Jesse Owens, and his quest to become the greatest track and field athlete.

7. Witness The Physical Changes

Sometimes, looking at the physical changes in your own body are all you need to motivate yourself. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to build some lean muscle?

Seeing the improvements in your own physique begin to appear will help you to get out there again and continue what you’ve been doing.

Maybe you’re even somebody who is on a big weight loss journey, seeing the alterations in your body will help to show you that all the hard work you’ve been putting in is being rewarded.

Simply get running and your body will thank you for it.

How To Get Better At Running

Now that we’ve covered the important basis of how to motivate yourself, let’s take a look at how you can actually improve your running performance physically.

Choose Or Make A Training Plan

There are so many different training plans out there for you to choose from, you are guaranteed to find something that fits your level.

Some of them are extremely elaborate, but you can make quick progress by just keeping things simple. A starter plan might look like this:

  • Make sure to train at least three times per week
  • Run for 30 minutes at a time
  • Perform a longer run on the weekend, upping it to 40 minutes
  • On days off, either cross-train or rest your muscles
  • If you are finding it too difficult to run consistently, walk in between.

You should also plan the distance that you want to run, for most beginners, this is 5K, which equates to around 3.1 miles. This is a good first distance for those who are starting out.

There are also lots of apps out there that are specifically tailored to those who are looking to run a 5K distance. These can help you along on your journey.

Make A Training Logbook

Progression In Running - How To Improve

Another thing that you can do is to physically write down your goals on paper. This will help you to write down all of the most important elements of your training.

The kinds of things you could write in there could include the total km of your run, the pace that you’ve been keeping, the total time it has taken you, and any additional notes about injuries or weather conditions.

If you are not somebody who likes to write things on paper, you could make an excel spreadsheet or a document on word.

Having all of this information to look back on can help you to improve by seeing what you’re actually achieving so far.

Take Care Of Your Form

Even the most experienced runners can sometimes neglect their form as they become overly complacent.

Running forms differ from person to person, with some choosing to lean more on their heels, while others tend to rely more on their toes.

The key is to listen and run according to the natural form of your body. This will help to prevent any injuries down the line that could massively hinder your progression.

Some may even be interested in receiving a gait analysis. These are special assessments that are provided in most running shoe shops that help to assess your stride, running pattern, and foot plant.

You are made to run on a treadmill for a few minutes, then the footage is played back, after your run has been observed, the workers can then help to find a shoe that specifically suits your foot posture.

Improve Your Fitness

Some people may have noticed their progress becoming stagnant after reaching a certain level of fitness. It may sound strange, but a great way to help your running progress is to do other exercises apart from running. Most of these are strength training.

In order to really become a great runner, you will need to improve your core, legs, glutes, knee, hip, and ankle strength. This is how true athletes train.

Once your overall fitness levels have increased from strengthening your body, you will be in better physical shape to run longer distances.

Get Faster

Progression In Running - How To Improve

Throughout this article we’ve stressed the importance of not becoming complacent with your training. Whether you are running 5K or 42K, eventually your body will become accustomed to it.

This can eventually make your runs feel tedious and boring. In order to combat this, do some interval training. Interval training consists of around 90 seconds of an increase in activity. By setting yourself interval periods during your run, you can speed up your overall pace.

These interval sessions can quicken your sustainable speed, and by doing them for 90 seconds, you can maintain an intensity of 85% of maximum effort throughout the run. Professionals tell you to rest in between intervals to maintain the quality of your sprint.

Include Drills As A Part Of Your Training

Running drills are a fantastic way to increase progression, they help to improve your running economy, strengthen the correct muscles, and also improve muscle memory so that you perform better in your next session.

The best time to do running drills is either before your running session, or at the end of it.

We do recommend, however, that you try to implement them at the start of your workout if you can, in case you’re too burnt out and exhausted by the time you finish.

Running drills should be performed in accordance with your running plan, so around 3 times a week should be adequate.

For those who are new to drills, around 20 meters is a good place to start. Simply run as fast as you can, then measure your speed to set up your next goals.

When you are running, make sure that your form is correct. A typical form for drill running is to put your knees up very high, and maintain a solid posture with your back.

Be sure to move your arms along with your movements, taking care not to let them drop to your sides. Doing these regularly will help to improve your overall speed.

Have A Healthy Meal Plan

In order to make sure that you’re at your peak performance during a run, make sure that you are fuelling your body properly.

The most important food group to consume before your run is carbohydrates. Especially during more difficult runs where you’re really upping the pace, you need to make sure that you’re eating enough carbs to reflect this.

As our bodies perform more difficult training sessions, glycogen stored in the muscles becomes the main source of energy. If it does not have any to feed off of, you could wind up feeling lethargic and fatigued.

Some good carb-heavy foods to eat before your run would be oatmeal, granola, smoothies, and bananas on toast. This will allow your body to perform well consistently throughout the session.

Be Sure To Warm Down

Everyone always stresses the importance of warming up before a workout, but warming down is just as important.

This is usually the portion of the workout that most people fail to do, because they simply want to go and chill out afterwards on the couch with a protein snack.

Not warming down, however, can be very problematic for your muscles and joints. Warming down not only helps to relax the muscles, but also dispel any waste products, reduce soreness in the muscles, and regulate the cardiovascular system.

So next time you go for your run, make sure that you take the time to warm down afterward, your body will thank you for it.

Make Sure That You Take Rest Days

Progression In Running - How To Improve

Rest days are so important for your progression. Some may feel that they want to skip rest days because they’re feeling so motivated and want to keep going.

This could be a mistake though, because you’re hindering your body’s recovery time. Even if you feel like training continuously, you should take a minimum of one day off during the week to rest. This will prevent burnout.

When you take a rest day, this should involve a day involving absolutely no exercise, even stretches.

Stretches are best performed on days where you have exercised, this is because it allows your body to prepare to rest on days off.

If you are training for a specific purpose, for example, if you have a race coming up, then it is even more vital on the days leading up to the big event that you take some time off.

In fact, even leaving up to a week of rest before the race can be extremely beneficial.

Take Your Vitamins

Another way to boost productivity in terms of running and really elevate your progress, is by making sure that you are getting all of the correct vitamins and minerals.

This may mean taking a few additional supplements here and there so that you’re in the best health possible.

Many female runners need to take additional iron supplements, so if you’ve been feeling a bit lightheaded or woozy on a run, this might be the culprit.

Some people may also be surprised to discover the benefits of consuming caffeine before their run.

Although taken in large quantities, it can be bad for your health, caffeine is actually a fantastic way to boost your stamina ahead of a run. A well timed cup of coffee before you head out could help to lessen the fatigue time of your session.

If you aren’t really a coffee person, there are loads of other options out there. You could pick up some energy drinks to help give you a boost, and take them on your run with you.

Some energy drinks are really great because they contain electrolytes as well as caffeine, to help replenish your body.

The Benefits Of Running

There are so many different benefits linked to running. Your capacity for running can actually be a marker of health, as those who run regularly demonstrate better cardiovascular health through their decreased blood pressure.

Running can also improve bone density by placing more stress on them, causing them to release more minerals and thus strengthening the structure.

As well as this, running also decreases stress levels significantly, making it great for your mental health.

Final Thoughts

If you really want to make good progress in your running, make sure that you heed some of the advice offered above.

If you do so, you’ll be making great headway in no time! Go at your own pace, and focus on a gradual progression, taking care to rest at intervals too.

Jessica Knight