Maximizing the Effectiveness of Regular Running

By: KELLY SHERIDAN

Running has always been a widely accepted form of cardiovascular exercise, and continues to grow in popularity. Besides being an extremely effective weight loss strategy, running is an enjoyable hobby which will keep any fitness enthusiast in fantastic shape. It is also a versatile activity, one which can be done indoors if weather conditions do not cooperate. Based on this description, running sounds like the perfect activity for anyone who seeks to get into, or remain in, athletic shape.

Why, then, are so many avid runners still struggling to attain a desired weight loss goal or fitness level? Despite daily workouts, these exhausted athletes continue to have low endurance, and numbers on their scales refuse to budge. Both of these occurrences can easily lead to frustration in an aspiring runner. It is important to maximize the benefits of a running workout in order to prevent exhaustion and injury, and improve overall fitness. Re-inventing a mundane exercise routine is simple, and will ultimately result in reaping great benefits from a daily run.

Maximizing the effectiveness of a daily workout may require acting against popular ideals regarding running. Less frequent, high-quality workouts are more likely to be helpful than running often at a gentler pace. Below, take account of some helpful running tips that will help maximize the benefits of regularly scheduled running workouts:

  • Make running count: Every workout should have a purpose. It may seem as though working a run into a tight schedule would be beneficial for fitness; however, this may just contribute to exhaustion and injury. As running coach Jeff Horowitz recommended to “The Chart” of CNN.com, “Refrain from adding in that run unless you can articulate a specific benefit that would come from doing it.” Some of these purposeful runs could include speed or hill workouts, interval workouts, or long distance runs. Short, gentle runs could serve a purpose in helping to cool down muscles after a hard workout.
  • Hit the hills: As difficult as they can be, hill workouts are extremely effective as a means of increasing strength and endurance. The motion of the legs when running up hill is comparable to a series of short squats, and the same muscles will strengthen as a result. Uphill workouts are also less stressful on joints such as the knees, ankles, and hips as opposed to a flat-surface or downhill run.
  • Try cross training: This could be the key to improving fitness for those stuck in a runner’s rut. To improve running, it is important to engage in overall fitness training. In addition to aerobic exercise, this includes strength training, core exercises, and flexibility training, such as yoga or Pilates. Strength training is especially helpful for runners. While the cardiovascular activity of running will help with strength for lifting, the extra time spent strength training will ultimately improve speed and endurance when running.
  • Perfect running technique: Though it may seem insignificant, a runner’s form is crucial to achieving significant progress. Run with the head erect and shoulders relaxed to avoid putting stress on the neck and upper back. Relax the arms as well, as this requires exerting unnecessary effort. Engage the abdominal muscles so that they are supporting the legs, because running with the belly hanging out will place strain on the lower back and leg muscles.
  • Listen to the body: Many runners neglect to acknowledge their bodies’ signs that they need rest. Doing this will ultimately lead to burnout, and potentially injury as well. If fatigue sets in, take a rest day. Taking longer than 10 minutes to fall asleep at night is a good sign that the body needs rest.

All runners, from avid distance runners to aspiring regular joggers, should heed this running advice in order to succeed in achieving their fitness goals. Doing the same short jog every day is boring; mix it up with a hill workout, or hit the gym for some Pilates! Re-inventing an exercise routine to reap the benefits of running is fun, and ultimately very rewarding.

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Categories: Sections, Your Fitness

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