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Easy running form improvements

FEB 16, 2022

Minute 1: Calf raises can improve running speed

If we asked you to pick the most important muscle for runners to worship, you’d probably pick the hamstrings or maybe the glutes. Those big muscles are the golden calves of propulsion – false idols. The real hero of speed improvement may just be the humble calf muscle. According to a new piece from a respected running coach, the greatest impact from your strength training will come from your calves: “Calf raises can help you run better.” Keeping calves strong is particularly important for runners as they age. Research indicates that calf strength deteriorates significantly faster than other leg muscles and is a major cause of slower race times. It’s also common for runners to get a nagging pain in their calves on a long run, especially in new shoes. That can bring your momentum to a grinding halt, so to ensure your calves have the fortitude and flexibility to keep up with your other muscles, hit some calf raises. The good news is, you don’t need to be at a gym to do them: just grab a low object or ledge, step on the balls of your feet, and pivot at the ankles. Calf raises are a great starting point, but there’s plenty of places to go in pursuit of stronger calves. Check out “The 8 Best Calf Exercises for Lower Body Support and Power.” Some of the more dynamic movements, like farmers walk, sled drag, and jump rope are particularly effective at developing endurance in your calf muscles, while single leg weighted calf raises with a dumbbell let you dial up the resistance to maximize your strength. For yet another perspective on getting a leg up, check out “5 calf exercises to help you run faster.”

Minute 2: Get your electrolytes without the extra sugar

Our high school athletic trainer once told our team that we should drink more Gatorade, since it simulates the composition of sweat and urine. Maybe that’s why we’ve never been too into sports drinks. We must be in a minority, however, since Americans chug more than $6 billion worth of the stuff every year. Gatorade was invented at the University of Florida in 1965 by a team of football coaches and academic researchers. While the first batches tasted awful, players noticed an improvement in performance because they were no longer losing 15+ pounds during steamy practice sessions in the Florida heat. Over the past 55 years, Gatorade’s marketing messages have become much more sophisticated than talking about sweat, urine and football practices. Modern marketing campaigns now try to make sports drinks synonymous with electrolyte replacement. Having 1 on race day is fine for runners, but mainstream sports drinks don’t make for a great daily source, due to their sugary additives. If you want to find a more balanced source of sodium, potassium, and other such minerals, read RunnerClick’s new piece: “How to Get Electrolytes Naturally into Your Diet: Complete Guide.” Electrolytes help regulate your body’s hydration levels and facilitate muscle contraction, so they’re essential for every athlete. The best way to meet your electrolyte needs is by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Broccoli and carrots for magnesium, celery and olives for chloride, potatoes and bananas for potassium, peas for calcium, and legumes for phosphate. Alongside the electrolytes themselves, you need to consume plenty of water, and coconut water allows you to check both boxes at once. Take a look at the “7 Science-Based Health Benefits of Coconut Water.” Alternatively, using an electrolyte supplement in your water is a good way to limit the amount of sugar you’re drinking. Check out this breakdown of effective hydration: “Hydration Tips: 4 Simple Ways to Drink More Water.” And remember, it’s important to space out your drinking evenly across the day. #ElectrolyteOrchestration

Minute 3: Runners should hit the slopes more often

As an active athlete, you’ve got 2 options to deal with cold weather: hibernate like a grizzly in the gym, or embrace your inner polar bear in the snow. We think the latter option is preferable and are lifelong subscribers to the philosophy that there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. Many endurance athletes turn to skiing to cross train, and that sport delivers many unexpected benefits. See: “The Trail Runner’s Guide To Skiing.” Compared to running, skiing has lower repetitive impact while calling upon a larger variety of muscles. Cross country skiing really engages your upper body as evidenced by this photo of Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins and her training partners. That upper body strength will translate to better form and control when you switch back to running. Going cross country on skinny skis isn't the only way to get a serious workout in, as the growing trend of touring and skinning on alpine skis will really up the intensity: “Why skiers everywhere are skipping the chairlift and going uphill instead.” Is skipping the chairlift and trekking up a mountainside to earn your turns a little crazy? Maybe, but that will also yield crazy results. You won’t have much luck with AT without the proper gear, so check out the “Essential Gear for Ski Touring” to find everything you need.

Minute 4: Can walking burn more calories than running?

Even a fool knows that running uses more energy than walking, right? Well, you’d be making a foolish bet if you placed money on that proposition. You see, it all depends on how you measure energy consumption. Per unit of time, running burns energy faster, but per unit of distance, walking requires more energy. Keeping this in mind, walking can be just as effective as speedier jaunts for improving fitness, and you can find the details in “Time to Run or Time to Walk? Your Body Knows the Answer.” Running is a more efficient motion than walking, since momentum is conserved with the flow of each step. So when compared to the marathon distance of 42k, the 50k race walk requires nearly double the energy to complete. That’s why race walkers generally look so tired after crossing the finish line, and it's why it can be such a valuable addition to your training routine. One of the added benefits of walking is that it’s a low impact motion, meaning you can do it on a compact treadmill without worrying about applying too much force. Here are “The 10 Best Compact Treadmills for Walking and Running.” The small form factor allows these treadmills to fit right into a home office, and they’re the perfect way to break up long stretches spent sitting at your desk or burning calories while long-winded colleagues hog airtime on Zoom calls.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Cilantro can be a polarizing herb, given that to some folks, it tastes pretty funky. (See“Why Does Cilantro Taste Like Soap to Some People?”) Even if you’re one of the unlucky ones with this genetic quirk, it doesn’t change the fact that cilantro is quite healthy, as it contains several vitamins, antioxidants, and more. It’s a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine, but it also makes a great addition to curry, fish, and even some cocktails. So take a look at these “3 Health Benefits of Cilantro, According to a Nutritionist.”

  • Not to sound overly dramatic, but for some people, getting enough exercise is a matter of life and death. That’s what one recent study concluded, anyway. Researchers estimated that about 110,000 lives in the U.S. could be saved per year if people over 40 added just 10 minutes of daily exercise to their routines. See the details in “Study reveals impact 10 minutes of exercise can have on adults over 40.”

  • When it comes to running high weekly mileage, 2 shoes are better than 1. Rotating different pairs of shoes minimizes their wear over time, keeping your feet property cushioned so you’re protected from injury. In some cases this routine has reduced the risk by up to 39%. If you’ve dealt with frequent injuries in the past, or want to reduce post-running soreness, check out “Should You Rotate Your Running Shoes? What Should You Know in 2022.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Some things are best learned through experience, and YouTuber HellahGood certainly has a lot of it. At the time of making this video, he was on a 1,729-day running streak. You can’t make it that far in 1 piece without some seriously efficient form. Lucky for us, he’s dishing out a bunch of tips that have got him this far. What his video lacks in slick production, it more than compensates with easy fixes for bad running form mistakes.


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