Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Few Tips for Runners

A lot of people want to know how they can improve their running game, and there are a variety of ways I can respond. First and foremost, it's important that you don't push too hard too quickly, as you'll risk injury. And nothing kills a running game quicker than an injury. So, proceed cautiously with the following recommendations.

First, I realize that we all hate running up a hill. Even the slightest incline has the ability to kill momentum. But hills are a necessary evil because they challenge your leg muscles and lungs in a way that only makes you better on the flat part of your path. All you really have to do is anticipate hills by adjusting your stride and slowing your pace before you head on up. This will help you conserve oxygen and energy, both of which you'll need more of in order to get to the top and beyond.

Now, unlike an uphill battle, running down a hill is generally easy as pie despite the fact that it feels a bit jerky and awkward. But for lack of better expression, I say run with it! Let loose and increase your pace. If you land more toward the front of your foot, you're doing fine. If you try to heel/toe it, the impact will kill your momentum (and it might not feel so great on your knees).

And speaking of momentum, don't pull back your speed as soon as you reach the bottom of the hill. Ease yourself into an appropriate pace for whatever lies ahead. And if you've got the energy to push it for a bit, go ahead and push it until you truly need to pull back. In fact, even if you aren't coming off a hill, try picking up the pace every so often. If you are concerned about time, this is a good way to knock some seconds off the clock.

Remember that distance running on a flat path is great, but you need to vary it up with hills and sprints on occasion in order to make yourself the best runner possible. And outside of your runs, strength exercises can make a huge difference. But, like the season finale of your favorite show, you'll have to stay tuned to find out what those strength exercises are. Though I won't make you wait an entire season—I promise to post a few soon :-)

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