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8 drills to improve your speed and form

OCT 4, 2023

Minute 1: Improve your running form and routine the right way

If you’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster Oppenheimer, you will know that “theory will take you only so far.” That’s true for physicists and it’s true for runners. You can learn all you want about theories on perfect running form, but until you get out and try it for yourself, you won’t know what adjustments actually suit you. Since individual running styles vary like fingerprints, you may even wonder: “Is It Actually Possible To Improve Your Running Form?” A common mistake runners make when trying to change their form is doing everything too quickly or all at once. Take your foot strike, for instance. Lots of pro runners have a midfoot or forefoot strike, and while this may be ideal for elite athletes, the average runner who's used to heel striking will need time to adjust and develop the muscles necessary to adopt the change. Instead of mentally prompting yourself to alter your stride mid-run, you may be better off starting or ending your session with some of these: “8 Powerful Running Drills To Improve Your Speed and Running Form.” In addition to form, runners are sometimes told to mimic the routines of elite athletes, like the ones listed in: “Eliud Kipchoge: Training Methods of the double Olympic marathon champion.” There’s a lot about Kipchoge’s method that's accessible for runners of all levels, like the amount of easy running he does. The frequency of speed work and overall volume will likely need to be adjusted to suit an individual’s needs. As for mimicking his form, keep in mind the principle above on incremental progress. By all means, study the great ones, but you may be better off matching the gait of a strong amateur runner closer to your age and ability.

Minute 2: Are VR and MR the future of fitness?

The division between our digital and physical spaces gets narrower by the day, and mixed reality goggles like the Meta Quest 3 and Apple Pro Vision are hyped as the next big leap in technology. You may think they’re limited to gaming and entertainment applications, but thanks to their improved ability to allow passthrough vision, these gadgets are safer and better than ever for integration with exercise. To see what we mean, take a look at “Quest 3 will succeed at fitness where the Quest 2 fell short.” By using high resolution cameras and depth sensors, you can immerse yourself in virtual reality without worrying about running into objects in the real world. That means you can do things like a HIIT workout from the comfort of your living room with virtual guides and a dynamic head-up display that reveals metrics like heart rate wherever you’d like. There’s even been talk of Apple collaborating with Nike on technology like virtual reality-assisted stationary bike workouts. For more on that, read: “Apple reportedly has fitness features for the Vision Pro we haven’t seen yet.” Fitness within VR platforms is one way companies hope to reverse the downward trend and bad news surrounding at-home fitness tech, like: “Peloton's rise and fall: pandemic success to layoffs and exec turnover” and “Athlete Investors Can’t Save Tonal’s Falling $500 Million Valuation.” For the most part, we are IRL kinda folks here at SMM, but we are keeping an open mind about whether VR fitness becomes a new paradigm that transforms the way we work out.

Minute 3: You don’t need bulky equipment for a stronger back

If you watch amateur runners in the late miles of a marathon, you will see scores of shoulders drooping like flowers in the hot sun. That is caused not just by fatigue, but also by weakness in a runner’s back muscles. To improve your posture, form and efficiency, it’s possible to strengthen your back without an expensive gym membership or personal trainer. If you’re looking to build your functional strength and increase stability, you can try out these: “4 great back exercises that require no equipment, only your body weight.” Our back muscles are like the anchor on which a lot of other muscles ground themselves, which is why a strong back is so vital for functional strength. For a full body exercise that supports this connection, this might do the trick: “Exercise Tutorial - Superman.” Perhaps surprisingly, running can improve your back strength as well, according to the Cleveland Clinic: “How Running Can Benefit Your Back.” Running puts some strain on your vertebrae disks, and according to one study, that can increase the amount of fluid they contain, leading to greater flexibility and less pain. Even still, some runners experience back pain after pounding the pavement, and if that’s something you’ve dealt with – or that you’d like to avoid – you may want to try: “The Best Exercises Runners Can Do to Prevent Lower Back Pain.”

Minute 4: Go nuts with these healthy snacks

Have you ever seen a slow squirrel? Didn’t think so. Have you ever seen a squirrel that didn’t eat a lot of nuts? Probably not. By the transitive property, that means we should all be eating more nuts to run faster. OK, goofy logic aside, lots of dieticians say they’re the perfect snack for athletes, and you can see why in: “Why it’s nutty not to eat nuts for good health.” Almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts are some of the top picks, thanks to their high protein, unsaturated fat, and vitamin content. The article recommends eating “a handful, not a canful,” since nuts are fairly high in fat. However, it's worth noting that for a lot of us, this fat won’t all be absorbed: “How Eating Nuts Can Help You Lose Weight.” Studies found that between 5% and 20% of the fat content of nuts isn’t absorbed and there’s evidence to suggest eating nuts will signal your body to burn more fat as an energy source. Each nut will offer a slightly different benefit, and if you need help choosing the right one, see: “Nuts As Post-Run Snacks For Runners.” Of course, you could cover all your bases by eating a variety of nuts, and there are a lot of tasty ways to add nuts into your cooking to make that happen: “Everything You Need to Know About Cooking With Nuts, Seeds, and One Rogue Legume.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • We’re always on the lookout for creative ways to boost our lifespan, and we may have just come across the most unexpected tip yet. According to some research, learning a second language challenges your brain in a way that keeps you sharp into old age, possibly lowering your risk of developing dementia. To learn more, take a look at: “Why Chasing Bilingualism Could Add Years to Your Life.” (If we learn three new languages, will we eventually be a lock for the podium in 80-and-older events???)

  • It’s finally fall, and that means it’s time for leaf peeping, pumpkin spice lattes, and of course, Oktoberfest celebration. With temps cooling down and kegs opening up, we can’t think of a better time to try your hand at a beer mile, and if you need tips on preparing for this unconventional race, Training Peaks offers some advice: “Your Guide to the Beer Mile: Rules, Records, and Training Tips.”

  • On the other hand, some folks might want to challenge themselves to the growing trend of “Sober October.” A month without alcohol can offer a number of benefits, from better sleep, mental clarity, higher energy levels, weight loss, and more. If that sounds good to you, follow along with “The Ultimate Sober October Guide: How To Maximize A Month Off Booze.” According to the data on our WHOOP, cutting back on our weaknesses (IPAs and tequila) has had a positive impact on our performance. Here is the company’s take on why that’s true: “What Happens to Your Body if You Stop Drinking Alcohol?

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Given the name of our publication, naturally we are big fans of one-mile running races. The vast majority of these events are contested on a track, but World Athletics just began recognizing world records in one-mile races run on the road. A few days ago, 20-year-old American sensation Hobbes Kessler turned in a 3:56.13 at the World Athletics Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia, to secure the victory over a competitive field. That was good enough for a new world record, given how few of these races have been recorded so far on WA-legal courses. In a country somewhat starved for distance highlights, the USA will enjoy this record for as long as it lasts. It's not every day you see such a tight finish and a world record set at the same time, so this video is a good inspiration whether your goals are to run sub-4:00 or sub-8:00.


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