How to get a personal best and improve running
Whether you are a running veteran or a running newbie, we bet you want to be
able to run faster. Here we show you five unusual and surprising tricks that
will help you improve your running performance and hopefully help you to achieve
a personal best.
Work out if you associate or dissociate
What type of runner are you? Experts have suggested that most runners are
either an associator runner or a dissociator runner and a study conducted in
1996 at the London Marathon found that these two types of mental strategies
could be further categorised into the following:
- Internal association – a runner’s attention focuses on the way their body
feels when running. You might think about your breathing or the fluidity of your
legs when running.
- Internal dissociation - a runner’s attention focuses on distracting their
minds when running. You might make up a story, solve a problem or think about
people in your life when running.
- External association - a runner’s attention focuses on the external details
of the race. You might think about the next water station and monitor split
times when running.
- External dissociation - a runner’s attention focuses on the external details
that are not associated with the race. You might think about the landmarks you
are passing, the weather or the scenery when running.
Understanding what type of runner you are means that you can employ
strategies that suit your running style that will help you to run faster. For
example, those people who are dissociated runners will find that using
distraction methods, such as listening to music when running, might help you to
Listen to Bon Jovi
Dr Costas Karageorghis is a sports psychologist who has carried out extensive
research into the effects of music on sports performance. According to Dr Costas
Karageorghis listening to music when you run could improve your running
performance by 15 per cent.
Dr Costas Karageorghis believes that listening to music can help you to run
faster in many different ways. Firstly, music can encourage you to think
positively when you are out running and it can also help you to feel less
fatigued, by making you less aware of the amount of effort you are putting into
your run. According to Dr Costas Karageorghis, music can reduce our awareness
of effort by as much as 10 per cent.
If you want to utilise the power of music and use it to make you run faster
pick songs that trigger something in you. Remember everyone is different and
just because Paula Radcliffe finds it useful listening to Kanye
West’s Stronger, you might not. When putting together your playlist
choose songs that inspire you and pick songs with different tempos that match
the different stages of your run.
According to research undertaken by researchers at the St Louis University in
America, eating beetroot could help runners finish a 5k run faster.
The study asked participants to run 5k on a treadmill twice. Before running
the first 5k the participants ate baked beetroot. In the second instance they
ate cranberry relish that provided the same amount of calorific values as the
beetroot. The study revealed that when the participants ate the beetroot they
ran 7.6 miles per hour compared to running 7.3 miles per hour when they ate
It is thought that the nitrates present in beetroot helped the participants
to run faster. It is also thought that beetroot juice can improve a runner’s
stamina and help to keep their muscles working efficiently. Next time you go on
a run tuck into some beetroot an hour or so prior to your training session.
Although you want to run faster, in order to get quicker you need to run
slowly sometimes too. Mixing up your workouts and running different distances at
different speeds will help you to improve your overall fitness and will
eventually make you run faster in the long term. You should aim to run longer
distances at a slower pace, fit in some interval training sessions and do some
hill work if you want to beat your personal best and run faster than you’ve ever
ran before. Remember, the key to speed is to diversify.
Plyometric workouts involve doing fast, explosive exercises. Plyometric
exercises are great for runners because they improve your muscles’ elasticity,
make your muscles contract faster and eventually they will also enable your body
to cope with bigger workloads more effectively.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Nebraska found that
those people who were able to jump high vertically, also had better 10k times,
suggesting that your ability to perform plyometric exercises, such as jumping,
can help you to run faster.
Plyometric workouts do not have to be long though and fitting in one to two
plyometric sessions should help you to improve your running performance
dramatically. Do scissor kicks, hops, jumps, box jumps and tuck jumps as a part
of your plyometric workout.
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