For some, there is nothing like losing yourself on a long run with your earphones playing your favorite motivational melodies, cars and people flying past, your thoughts slowing with troubles, while worries and commitments flood from consciousness. It’s just you and the pavement, though maybe you are struggling to increase your speed and endurance. Have you found yourself stagnated in your training capacity or speed, whether for dreams of a marathon victory or to better your own perceived capabilities? Let us discuss five potential tips you can employ in your training plans to increase your speed so that you might be able to run that 5K to the best of your abilities!
As a general recommendation, all individuals regardless of training modalities, should attempt to limit ultra-processed foods and incorporate whole foods. These foods include legumes, whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, tofu, and lean meats, fatty fish and calcium rich, low-fat dairy products. This acknowledges the fact that these recommendations are generalized and can be tailored depending on dietary restrictions or preferences. A high carbohydrate diet is recommended to maintain glycogen stores in the muscle. Fueling the body after a workout with protein and carbohydrate is especially important to aid recovery, build muscle and replace muscle glycogen (Vitale & Getzin, 2019).
Another tip is to avoid consuming a heavy meal a few hours prior to a run and stay away from a meal high in fat, protein or fiber to help avoid gastrointestinal upset.
Supplements and Hydration
Supplements such as probiotics, antioxidants, caffeine and nitrates from beetroot also show efficacy in helping endurance athletes.
Proper hydration prior to, during and after a run or other workout is incredibly important, and perhaps having an electrolyte/carbohydrate beverage such as Gatorade during long distance runs or activities in the heat, would be prudent to help maintain and restore that which is lost during endurance training (Vitale & Getzin, 2019). The hydration belts that we offer at , fortunately provide a convenient, hands-free and ergonomic way of carrying water or sports beverage available for use whenever needed.
Stretching is incredibly important to lean out the muscle, improve range of motion, flexibility and biomechanical efficiency to reduce injury, and warm up the muscle. Stretching also helps remove pain-inducing lactic acid from the muscles, promotes circulation, and prepares the body for exercise. Certain stretches, especially for the hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, lower back and the calves are especially important for runners (Cherney, 2013) & (Author American Council on Exercise Contributor, 2014).
Proper sleep and rest days in general, are imperative to restore and repair the body and to help the body and brain function optimally. Inadequate rest and sleep promote cortisol release by the adrenal glands which is a stress hormone that is detrimental to the body if chronically elevated. Sleep helps to decrease these levels and ultimately improves endurance, stamina, coordination, reaction time and athletic performance. Inadequate sleep negatively impacts recovery, cognition, thermoregulation, immune response, and enhanced mental and physical stress (R. Allada et al., 2014).
Training should incorporate different training modalities such as interval training of intense sprints, followed by a slower jog. Hill training and resistance training are beneficial to push the capacity of the cardiovascular system and build strength (Chertoff, 2018). Take things slow and build on incremental goals, while keeping records of speed, time and distance. This overload and adaptive mode of training will improve progress (D. Bishop et al., 2019) & (Carter, 2020)
Form is also a key factor, by keeping the spine and torso erect, shoulders back and relaxed with arms moving pendulously to provide momentum, as well as keeping the hands relaxed for energy conservation.
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D. Bishop, O., G. Petrakos, J., MC. Rumpf, R., T. Haugen, E., T. Haugen, P., T. Haugen, M., . . . D. Ritchie, J. (1970, January 01). The Training and Development of Elite Sprint Performance: An Integration of Scientific and Best Practice Literature. Retrieved June 27, 2020, from https://sportsmedicine-open.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40798-019-0221-0
Chertoff, J. (1979, June 17). Average Running Speed and Tips for Improving Your Pace. Retrieved June 27, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/average-running-speed
Carter, K. (2020, May 26). 4 Beginner Tips for Improving Your Speed and Endurance. Retrieved June 27, 2020, from https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20845443/improving-speed-and-endurance/
Cherney, J. (2013, July 01). Essential Stretches for Runners. Retrieved June 27, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/essential-runner-stretches
Vitale, K., & Getzin, A. (2019, June 7). Nutrition and Supplement Update for the Endurance Athlete: Review and Recommendations. Retrieved June 27, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6628334/
R. Allada, J., DGM. Beersma, M., T. Reilly, J., Davenne, D., Samuels, C., MG. Frank, J., . . . RS. Smith, T. (2014, January 01). Sleep and Athletic Performance: The Effects of Sleep Loss on Exercise Performance, and Physiological and Cognitive Responses to Exercise. Retrieved June 28, 2020, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-014-0260-0