Top tips to optimise your running

This is a round-up of some the ‘top-tips’ from research that I’ve picked up on this month to share with you. Some things to think about when you warm-up, run and taking care of yourself to stay in optimal health.  In future round-ups, I’ll try and include links and references so you can find out more if you want, but most of this can probably be searched on-lRunningine.

Land softer. Think about landing softer when you run, study showed – studies show runners landing mid to forefoot registered 54% lower impact forces than those heels striking. Quick feet drills can help with this as it increases cadence which will help you land under your body more and stop over striding.

Stretching before going on a run? Don’t ‘static’ stretch before. Studies show stretching before going for a run makes your body less efficient so you won’t perform as well. Also, you are more at risk of injury. Dynamic running-specific movements (leg swings, drills,) can mobilise your joints before your run. Save the static stretches for your post-run routine. However, if you’re running from home then a bit of pre-run foam rollering (but not too much) can be beneficial.

Not so fast. Did you know starting a race too fast – can lose you up to 3 minutes in a hour race. Study showed when elite runners ran above their lactate threshold pace – the oxygen cost of running rose by 5.5 per cent. So avoid this in the early stages of a predominantly aerobic endurance race – which is pretty much all of your races.

Looking to lose weight? A study showed sprinting for 8 seconds and jogging for 12 seconds over 20mins, burns up to 5 times more fat than 40 mins of jogging at the one speed. Pushed for time – worth a try?

Going backwards. Backwards running strengthens stabilising muscles and build coordination. It also targets quads and is good for your core muscles.

Too much running? Research shows that runners logging more than 80kms/ 50miles a week can double their risk of illness, especially upper respiratory illness. However, running a moderate 30-50km (18- 31 miles) a week boosts your immune system and will keep you well.

Hills? Don’t stress if you end up walking on steep hills in races. Recent research shows that walking part of very steep hills is more efficient in energy expenditure and prevents you hitting your anaerobic threshold – which means you are less tired later in the race. A suggestion can be to run the first 3rd and if you are struggling, walk the middle third, then if you have got your breathing rhythm back, try to start running for the final third.

Are you Vitamin D deficient? Last month saw Vitamin D Awareness Week, timed to coincide with the clocks going back and days getting shorter. Did you know, in the UK for 7 months of the year the sun rays are too weak for adequate vitamin D production and it is estimated a huge number of people in the UK are deficient? I would say runners may be a bit better off, due to the time spent outside with skin exposed during the summer, but a month after a period of high exposure to sun or supplementation – levels have already reduced by 50% so during the depths of winter levels may still get too low. A lack of Vitamin D could result in you feeling more aches and pain, headaches, tiredness to more serious symptoms. If you would like to find out if your vitamin D levels are optimal before you reach for the supplements, you can find out more and order a simple test which you can do at home here. Personally I took the test, got my results in 2 days and was really pleased with the service.