If you want to become a better runner then all you need to do is run more right? Well not quite, in fact, there are some pretty awesome ways that you can become a better runner without doing any extra running at all! Here is our list of four non-running activities that will make you a better runner.
1) Strength Training
There’s an age-old myth amongst runners that strength training will make you slow, and yet nothing could be further from the truth.
Stronger legs mean more ability to produce force, and more force into the ground equals more movement! Try a few simple sets of weighted squats once or twice per week and you’ll start to notice the difference.
You can also improve your running by developing stronger core muscles, which will help to keep your posture upright and make it easier for you to breathe. Two or three sets of plank and side plank each week can go a long way towards making you a better runner.
2) Targeted Stretching
Runners use certain muscles much more than others, and these muscles tend to get a bit too tight, which can lead to injury and reduce your performance. Regular stretching of your calves, quadriceps, and hips can help reduce this injury risk as well as improve your posture and make your different types of running more efficient.
A simple forty-five to sixty-second stretch for each of those muscles every day can make a huge difference to your ability as a runner. If you want to take it a bit further then you could try stretching for five to ten minutes every morning just after you wake up, plus five to ten minutes before you go to bed (which is very relaxing)
3) Cardio Cross Training
If you’ve read my article on ‘How to run further without getting injured then you know that I’m a big fan of cross training. If you’ve not heard of the term before, it simply means using different types of exercise to improve your main exercise. So if you’re trying to improve your running you could try an extra session of cycling or swimming. The benefit of doing this is that you’re still developing your cardiovascular fitness without overusing the muscles, joints and movement patterns used in running. Beauty of cardio training is that it can be done anywhere, for example by simply going for run, as well as there is plenty of home cardio exercises you can do without a need for any equipment. However, if you are lucky enough to own any home ellipticals equipment, a short and intense use on any type of rowing machines or any types of treadmills is a great addition to mix in. This might strengthen the muscles you not usually using during your routine running.
Top Tip: Since the distances you cover will be different for each type of exercise, the best way to make sure you’re working equally hard is to time your workouts and rate the difficulty between one and ten. So if you were planning to run for thirty minutes at a difficulty of seven, then you’ll need to swim for thirty minutes at a difficulty of seven to achieve a similar training effect.
4) Learning to love the kitchen
Running is stressful to your body. Every time you go for a run you send stress signals to your brain, which in turn tries to adapt your body to make it fitter ready for next time. However, for this process to take place your body needs to recover. Enter your friend, food!
Food is one of your body’s best ways to recover after running (the other is sleep, so make sure to get your forty winks) This means getting the right amount of food and the right type of food to provide you with the best recovery after workout. There is a great range of tips to get more sleep!
For muscle repair, protein-rich food is your friend, and to maintain your hormone levels, you’ll also need some healthy fats. Then there are carbohydrates, which you’ll need to replenish your energy stores. Try to make sure that you’re preparing meals which include all three of these essential ingredients.
If you want to be a better runner, then looking after your body is definitely the way to go.
Strength training, stretching, cross training and nutrition planning are all great ways to become a better runner, and you can do every single one of them without going anywhere near a pair of running shoes. Why not try some of them this month and see what impact they have on your running.
33 thoughts on “4 Non-Running Activities That Will Make You a Better Runner”
This is so great! I hear this from people all the time, they think that they should just run all the time to improve but you really need to do all the other things to be your best!
Running isn’t as simple as most people think, Patrick! 🙂
Your posts are always so informative and interesting! I know there’s a lot I could do to improve my running so thank you for getting me started, Agness!
I’m very happy you like my posts, Kelsie! 🙂
I LOVE strength training, especially anything that involves my legs. Squats with dumbbells are one of my favourite things to do! Thanks for the tips 🙂
You’re welcome, Dawn! Strength training is amazing! 🙂
This is a great article for anyone who wants to exercise better 🙂
Thanks, Tandy! I find it helpful too. 🙂
These are such great activity suggestions!!
They indeed are, Phi! 🙂
Such great tips! I’m such a fan of not just running. Mixing it up can keep you interested and injury free! Hope you are having a good day!
Thanks, Julie! I hope you have a good day, too! 🙂
Great tips for runners!
They really are, Missy! 🙂
Great point about stretching!! I need to work this into my daily routine 🙂 This old body needs to stay limber (or get limber???).
We all have to do regular exercises to keep ourselves limber, Liz! 🙂
for me to become a better runner i need to… start. running isn’t one of my favorite things, but it’s so easy to prep for (as in, you can run anywhere without any equipment or overhead to get to a gym/hiking spot/etc) that i should. also think it’s weird when people try to make excuses that strength training won’t help them, but i’m pretty sure most of the reasoning is due to myths or laziness (;
There shouldn’t be excuses when it comes to taking care of our own body and health, Heather!
I must admit, I’m totally out of shape, but tuning up my kitchen workout might be more my speed. 😉 Great tips!
You’re welcome, Hannah! 🙂
Nice one, Agness! I’ll be passing this along to Amit 🙂
Thanks, Tim! 🙂
Thanks for the suggestions! I’m a big fan of strength training 🙂
You’re welcome, Kimberly! I hope you try these activities! 🙂
Hi Agness, this is a great post and I can definitely vouch for the strength training. I’ve been doing it for a few months now – mainly squats, lunges and deadlifts. I’ve noticed a significant improvement!
You’re right, Amy! Strength training provides amazing improvements! 🙂
Yessss, strength training!! I ran my absolute best when I was consistent with strength training a few times a week. The stronger muscles helped with power and speed. I need to start incorporating it more often again!
You should definitely incorporate it more often and enjoy its benefits! 😉
Great post Agness! Love your blog. Deano 🙂
Thanks a bunch, Deano! 🙂
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