by Jessica Smith
Want to run a marathon? Improve your PR? Whatever your running goal, these tips will help you achieve it.
Improve your running technique1. Don't run heels first: Avoid striking the pavement with your heels-save that for your power walks. "When you walk, you keep one foot in contact with the ground, while running has a moment of weightlessness in the stride," says Alex Figueroa, a running coach and creator of Priority1 Wellness in Miami Beach. Running with a heel landing can contribute to back and knee pain.
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Invest in barefoot running shoes2. Invest in barefoot running shoes: "When it comes to support, less is more," says Figueroa. Build up to wearing shoes with minimal support, like NIKE Free or Vibram Five Fingers, to help strengthen and develop the natural muscular support in your foot and ankle. But don't toss your sneakers just yet - slowly begin by running, one block at a time, with less support to gradually strengthen the muscles in your feet. Developing foot strength can help make everything stronger, including your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back, says Figueroa.
Take short strides instead of long ones3. Do take short, effective strides: Less motion through the joint means less wear and tear and improved efficiency during your runs, says Figueroa. Using a shorter stride reduces the movement within any joint (for running, this means the joints of the ankles, knees, and hips), and less movement means a longer, healthier life for these joints.
Don't run as hard as you can4. Don't run as hard as you can: Many runners think if they can run fast, they are running efficiently, which isn't the case. In fact, Figueroa recommends runners slow down to learn how to run farther, faster. "Slow down and wear a heart rate monitor to train smarter, not harder," suggests Figueroa. Set your heart rate monitor to keep your running at a desired pace, and then don't exceed that set pace. Your body will adapt, and then you'll be able to run more comfortably at this pace, meaning you will be able to run faster without pushing any harder.
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Do run for time5. Do run for time: Try to improve covering the same distance in less time. For example, set your workout to run for 30 minutes and see how much distance you can cover instead of running for four miles harder than you can safely run, suggests Figueroa. The more you train, the easier your runs will become. You can either cover the same distance with greater ease, or maintain the same intensity and run farther in the same amount of time.
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by Jessica Smith