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 Middlesex YMCA's Healthy Lifestyles Office




Less Injury, More Efficiency = Better Runner
By Craig Chivers, CPT

A better runner doesn’t necessarily mean a faster runner. A better runner means a healthier runner, a less injured runner, a more efficient runner. Whether you’re just starting out running or looking to beat your marathon personal best, these tips will help you become a better runner.

1. Work on your technique

Your technique will affect your speed, how often you get injured, and your all-round running economy. You may find that after a little work on your technique, you find running easier and more enjoyable. Examples of poor technique amongst runners are things like over striding, short steps, heel striking and being tense. Aim to run tall, as if a string is pulling you upwards. Focus on getting your foot to land underneath your center of mass. Try to relax your shoulders when running; tensing up is wasted energy and ruins your running efficiency. Focusing on these 3 things can bring about big improvements in your running! Try to check yourself out in the mirrors at the gym, shop windows or reflections of cars to see what your technique looks like.

2. Focus on recovery runs

It’s easy to go out and run hard or push the pace on every run. This may seem like a good way to train to get quicker, but this is counterproductive. It will leave you always running at a ‘comfortably hard’ pace each time, making you too tired to perform during harder workouts or give it your all on another run. It can be hard to change your mentality, but running slow keeps something in the tank for other runs where you need to run faster. Recovery runs are also a great way to simply loosen up and get the blood flowing, which prepares you for a harder session later in the week. Recovery is where the body adapts and improves, not during a workout. A workout provides the stimulus, recovery enables adaptation and improvements.

3. Diet and hydration

What you eat will affect how well you run, from feeling slow and sluggish to running out of energy in the later stages of a great run. A runner’s diet should be comprised of 55-65% quality carbs, which will enable you to run with enough energy and finish your run feeling strong. Being sufficiently hydrated is also vital for runners. When you’re dehydrated, your blood is thicker, making your heart work harder to get oxygen and various minerals to your muscles. Drinking a huge amount of water before a run will leave you feeling full and sluggish. Consistently hydrating all day, every day is the best way.

4. Vary your training

If you want to get quicker, running the same route at the same pace will make you good at just that – running the same route at the same pace. Adding speed work to your training will make you quicker as well help your running technique. A good example of speed work is running 3 – 6 x 1km repeats with a 3-minute break in between. Another great speed workout would be to run a shorter distance than normal but at a faster pace. Be sure to do a slow recovery run the day after a speed workout so that you can loosen up and be ready for your next run. If you want to run farther, make one of your weekly runs a long run where you increase the distance by around 10% each time. You’ll soon notice the benefits of training like this but aim to do an easy week every 3 to 4 weeks so your body can adapt and recover.

5. Strength work

Runners like to run and then run some more. Adding in a simple bodyweight routine can bring big benefits. A stronger core will help your running technique, and keeping your torso upright can help you maintain good technique when you get tired. Doing exercises that focus on the legs will challenge your muscles in a way that running doesn’t. This will help you become more stable, have more power in your legs and run stronger. Some planking, bridges and squats can go a long way. Plus it will help you lean out!

6. Be consistent

Consistency is key! Be consistent in your training, be consistent in your diet and be consistent in your recovery if you want to perform the best you can.


Middlesex YMCA's nutritionist, Gabrielle West, MS discovered this recipe for Chipotle Vegetable Chili in Fitness Magazine years ago and has made it every fall since. It is chock full of autumn veggies and its subtle heat and flavor from adobo-marinated chipotles and cinnamon will keep you warm on a chilly day. This recipe just so happens to gluten free and vegan too!

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18 at 6PM: Wellness Workshop about 3D Mammography and Molecular Breast Imaging

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24 at 6PM: "Alkaline Diet" and The Basics of Acid-Base Balance

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2017 at 11:45AM: Nutrition for Athletes with YMCA's Triathlon Club ($20 for drop-ins)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2017 at 6PM: Healthy Strategies to Avoid Type 2 Diabetes

Did you know?

Middlesex YMCA now brings you evidence-based health interventions to help reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. We are currently enrolling participants in YMCA's Blood-Pressure Self-Monitoring Program and YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program. Visit www.MidYMCA.org/EBHI or contact Community Wellness Coordinator, Gabrielle West at GWest@MidYMCA.org or (860) 343-6240 for more information.

Reopened June 22nd

YMCA members may use our RESERVATION SYSTEM to make an appointment to use the facility.


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