Home > Training

Five effective ways to become a better runner

In order to improve, it's important to occasionally push beyond your comfort zone and do something you've never done before

If being a better runner is one of your goals, there are no shortage of things you could do to get there. Whether it’s running more frequently, farther or faster; doing something you’ve never done before can provide a valuable physical stimulus to take your fitness and performance to the next level. If done right, it will also add a big mental boost to your confidence.

RELATED: How much should you run? A beginner’s guide to appropriate mileage

Here are a few of the best ways to add new elements to your training to improve your fitness:

Run farther

To improve your overall endurance, increase the distance or duration of your longest run. Start by adding just 5 minutes to your weekly long run and continue to do this for several weeks until you hit your target distance. For those training for a half marathon or shorter race, aim to complete the full distance–21K–at least once or twice before race day. Marathoners should aim to run a long run of 28-34K or no more than three and a half hours of total running. The more often you go long in training, the better your endurance will be.

Run faster

Practicing running fast helps you to run faster, which is the goal of most workouts. Generally, workouts are run at an upcoming goal race pace. Occasionally, however, it can be useful to try to run at a pace that is just a bit faster than what we’re used to. Try running your next workout just a few seconds per kilometre (or lap) faster than what you’d typically aim for. You may be surprised at what you can do. Even if you end up slowing down or can’t complete the whole workout, you’ll have put in a high-quality effort that you otherwise wouldn’t have.

Run more

Assuming you can stay healthy and avoid injury, one of the most effective ways to become a better runner is simply to run a bit more each week, month, year, etc. You can do this by increasing the frequency of your running–by adding a few extra runs per week–or by running a bit more each day. It’s important to remember that being consistent over many weeks and months is the proven path to success so be sure to approach any increase to your overall training load very gradually and cautiously.

Cluster your long run

Another proven way to improve endurance is to run a higher volume of mileage within a short period of time. This could include running easy on Saturday afternoon or evening, a long run on Sunday morning and then another easy run on Monday morning. See how far you can safely and comfortably run within 48 hours or so. You’ll likely feel pretty tired and fatigued when it’s over but can expect a boost in your fitness.

Race without expectations

Too often we race with a very specific time goal in mind and simply run the race in order to achieve our goal. Pacing yourself is usually an effective way to run a smart race but it could also be holding you back. Sometimes it’s beneficial to run a race without a time in mind and try running a bit faster than you think is possible. Even if you don’t succeed–although you might–and end up fading/slowing down, you’ll still learn a valuable lesson about how far you can go.