12 Tips for More Efficient Running

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Every runner comes to ponder how to achieve better efficiency as they stride through a workout.

From common myths to real life facts, there is an array of information that will claim what is the best way to achieve efficiency. With simple adjustments to your daily routine, you can achieve better and faster times that will help you achieving your greatest running dreams.

Try out these 12 tips for more efficient running so you can stride into your best race yet.

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1. Purchase the Perfect Shoes

A shoe that can perfectly cradle your foot can define your efficiency as a runner. The right cushion, stability, and style gives the opportunity to boost your confidence and lead you to pain free running. Save yourself from the painful injuries of shin splints or runner's knee, so you can continually improve your time in every race.

Having the wrong shoe for your running style results in long term damage and potential chronic issues. Do not hesitate to spend the extra dollar and visit your local running store to find the right pair of running shoes that work with your feet. In the long run, it will help you achieve faster times and better mileage.

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2. Perform with Performance Wear

Leave the cotton shirts at home and invest in performance wear that helps you run efficiently every day. Technology has since advanced for running clothing, which means you can easily find materials that are created to help your body breathe better as you workout. As you sweat, you want moisture wicking material that takes away moisture while maintaining a good core temperature.

Materials such as merino wool, synthetic fibre blends, lycra, and dri-fit are all created for better breathability. Designed for cold and warm weather climates, you will be able to keep a comfortable temperature all year long. Find running performance wear that fits snugly and moves with your body's cadence. Too tight or too loose of clothing will hinder your performance, so be sure to invest in workout clothes that help you move fluidly.

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3. Forge Proper Form

Running with proper form can make or break your ability to achieve faster times. Activating all your muscles for better form will guide you to injury free running and keep you ahead in a race. Run tall and hold your spine straight with your chest upright. Keep a steady gaze ahead of you to avoid looking too much at your feet. Breathe deeply and keep your elbows at a 90 degree angle as you swing your arms the opposite of your leg movement.

Focus on the way your body moves for better sensing when you need to correct your form again. The more you stay in tune with your body, the more you can keep proper form and avoid any potential injury. Train with other runners or a coach to learn how you can better correct your form for more efficient running.

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4. Steady Your Stride

The way you stride is important for stamina and strength when improving your running efficiency. A stride is defined by the steps you take with your right and left foot. Many runners make the mistake of overstriding that results in shin splints or achilles tendonitis with too much pressure on your lower body. Instead of striding too far ahead of you, hold your stride behind you before reaching your leg forward again as you run.

Your ankle should be directly under your knee and hip as you press your foot against the ground in a stride. Extending your ankle too far will only put pressure in the wrong places and cause pain. If you stretch and exercise your hip muscles often, then you can achieve a more lengthened stride that does not over step the bounds of your body's alignment. Recognize what a good stride feels like and keep your body in a steady rhythm to achieve more efficiency for faster times.

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5. Focus on Breath

Your breath keeps you alive, which means it helps your body as you run. When you focus on your breath, you can channel your movements to work with your body. A practice commonly used in yoga, but is also useful for improved running. A study conducted revealed that as your body takes in oxygen, it gives your body more energy and strength to push through your run. Lack of oxygen will result in fatigued muscles, which will hinder overall performance.

The best way to take in a good amount of oxygen is to breathe through your mouth and nose at the same time. Let your breath fill up your diaphragm rather than your chest to let the air flow through your whole body. Breathe deeply with your steps as you run and keep a steady rhythm with your stride for better stamina.

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6. Integrate Core Integrity

Your core is what keeps you stable and strong beyond just when you are running. Without proper core strength, you are more susceptible to injury with an imbalance due to overall muscle weakness. One study came to the conclusion that core strength does not directly relate to faster performance times, but it can help you stay injury free. By supplementing your runs with core exercises you are helping your body build up strength that will propel you forward into more efficient running.

Integrating core integrity helps your entire body to be healthy. Muscle imbalance is one of the leading root causes of injury and can significantly damage the body if not corrected. Focusing on your core gives your other muscles a chance to gain strength for a body that is ready to take on the major challenges of pushing the limit in running.

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7. Learn the Power of Plyometrics

Plyometrics are the latest craze in the running world that can help you achieve greater heights of running. Several studies reveal a significant increase in running performance after several weeks of plyometrics training. Plyometrics training delivers a shock to your body by letting it feel the affects of gravity in a workout, which in turn gives you a more powerful lower body.

Some having been doing the power of plyometrics since childhood. Jump rope, hop scotch, and leap frog are all childhood forms of plyometrics that can continue into adulthood. Try out different forms of plyometrics that help engage your core and lower limbs for a body that defies all odds.

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8. Cross Train With Importance

Cross training with intention is an important part of achieving efficiency as a runner. Varying your workouts helps your body have more rounded strength and can act as a method of active recovery. Taking it easy does not always involve easier runs. Pool running, ellipitcal workouts, and yoga can all help you achive the muscle balance your body needs for better running.

Develop a training program that involves cross training at least three times a week. In doing so, you will actively keep your body healthy and refreshed for running. When your body feels recouped and strenghthened, you will be able to keep running your best.

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9. Speed Train

Speed training activates your fast twitch muscles that help your body respond quicker to your brain's demands. As you develop your muscles to respond faster, you will be able to boost through to the finish line with a new personal record. Speed training also gives opportunity for you to fix your running form.

In fast bursts, focus your attention on the way your arms swing and how you hold the center of your body. Correct your form as needed and continue to control your breath with your movements. When you can keep your body strong in a burst of speed, then you can run more efficiently in longer runs.

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10. Maximize Nutritional Value

Maximizing your nutritional value is one of the best things you can do as a runner. Nutrition is what keeps your muscles working at their maximum level. Complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats are all beneficial to your well being as an athlete. Invest in foods that work for and with your body, not against it. Healthy foods are a key to better running, and if you are unsure about it, just check out Olympic marathoner Shalane Flanagan's new book Run Fast Eat Slow.

Along with nutrition, hydration also helps your body maintain needed strength and stamina. Make sure you are consuming water before, during, and after a run. The better you can stay hydrated, the better your body will feel and perform.

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11. Sleep Soundly

You have probably heard the rumor that sleeps help you perform better as a runner, as well as helps you function better in society. In a hectic fast paced world, it can be hard to find the time for quality sleep, but if you want to run more efficiently, sleeping is important. As you settle into sleep, your body begins to resupply itself with energy and new cells that aid the healing process. Soreness after tough runs will feel less exhausting if you actually take the time to rest.

Sleep helps you reach new heights as a runner and helps your body avoid too much strain. If you have trouble sleeping, try taking a break from screens at least an hour before going to bed. The less stimuli that you are intaking, the more you can rest easy and focus on your running game.

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12. Recover Well

Above all, recover well. Recovery is about letting your body properly rest before attempting another hard workout. Establish healthy habits in the beginning of a training program, so you can recover fast and run with more strength. Increase your mileage a little at a time, and only attempt longer runs a couple times a week. When you slowly build your muscles, your body creates better resistance against any future potential injury.

Spending less time in recovery allows you to keep expanding your ability as a runner. Avoid chronic issues or common running injuries that take over runner's lives and be ahead of the pack all year long. Even after tough runs, you will be well equipped to recover well and run efficiently every single time.

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Bethany Widdicombe

Bethany Widdicombe

Bethany Widdicombe is a runner at heart, a researcher by nature, and a writer by passion. Having traveled across the world, she continues to be an advocate for awareness and knowledge that empowers people to a better life. You can now find her running out on the trail, or nestled away writing her next article.

Portland, OR