How to Enhance Your Running Performance

August 4, 2020

Henry Ford Health System

With summer now in full swing and many people still avoiding gyms, lots of us are hitting the track, the streets and the trails to get and stay fit.

Whether you run marathons or prefer a quick lap around the block, there are many ways to adjust your running routine to get the most out of your workout.

"It's not uncommon for runners to get into a regular running routine," says Jamie Schwab, an athletic trainer at Henry Ford Health System. "They'll find a comfortable pace and stick with it, often even doing the same route." Unfortunately, doing the same run day after day not only leads to boredom, but it can also prevent you from reaching your full potential.

5 Tips to Run Smarter

It’s no secret that running is tough on the body. In fact, runners frequently develop muscle imbalances that make the body work harder. But you can take steps that can help you improve your run, maximize efficiency and get the most out of your running workout. Here's how:

1. Listen to your body: Whether you're a seasoned runner or just starting out, pay close attention to what your body is telling you. If your hips and knees are sore, back off. Feeling strong? Run another mile. The key to improving your run is to gradually increase distance and intensity over time. At first, you may only be able to handle a 10- or 15-minute jog. But if you keep at it, you'll be running for 30 minutes straight in no time.

2. Get the right footwear: If you're not a competitive runner, you might think any pair of running shoes will do. In reality, properly fitted running shoes not only enhance your performance but also reduce your risk of injury. Find a running store that can analyze your form and recommend shoes based on your unique gait and foot strike.

3. Pay attention to your target heart rateYour target heart rate is 220 minus your age. Once you hit that rate during your run, you're working at maximum capacity. Don't want to invest in a heart rate monitor or be bothered with another tracking device? You're probably hitting the zone if you can still carry on a conversation during your run.

4. Focus on strength: If you're an avid runner but you aren’t strength training, you're setting yourself up for injury. "You're asking your body to do a lot during a run," Schwab says. "Weak glutes or hips add stress to your knees and ankles." Want to stabilize your run? Pay special attention to your core muscles. Solid strength training exercises include lunges, planks, squats and pushups.

5. Keep it interesting: Doing the same running routine day after day can be exhausting. Break out of your comfort zone by trying a different route, playing with your pacing, or running stairs or hills. You might even incorporate plyometric activities into your run. These explosive motions — hopping, skipping and jumping — help build power, strength and performance.

Running Safe

Eating well and getting regular exercise are key to enhancing overall health. Plus, a fit body is better equipped to avoid and battle infection. Running can also protect your sanity.

"Running is a great escape for many exercise enthusiasts," Schwab says. "Many people find they not only feel physically healthier, but their mental and emotional health also gets a boost."

The caveat: When you're running, you're placing double or triple your body weight on one side of your body at a time. So it's critical to pay attention to what shape your body is in before you take to the track. A few questions to ask yourself:

• Am I in good cardiovascular shape?

• Am I recovering from shin splints, knee injuries or hip problems?

• Am I at risk of falls?

• Am I suffering from osteoporosis?

It’s always important to check with your doctor before making changes in your exercise regimen. If running isn't appropriate for you, plenty of other activities, such as swimming, hiking and biking, can get your heart pumping.

Jamie Schwab, AT, ATC, SCAT, CSCS, is an athletic trainer with Henry Ford Sports Medicine and works with student athletes at Edsel Ford High School. She is a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified strength and conditioning specialist.

Want to learn more? Henry Ford Health System sports medicine experts are treating the whole athlete, in a whole new way. From nutrition to neurology, and from injury prevention to treatment of sports-related conditions, they can give your athlete a unique game plan.

Visit henryford.com/sports or call (313) 972-4216 for an appointment within 24 business hours.

This Week in High School Sports: 2/1/23

By Jon Ross
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties

February 1, 2023

This week's edition celebrates national recognition recently awarded to Kent City coach Jill Evers, awards Game Balls to standouts in basketball and wrestling, explains a basketball rule that actually isn't, and announces winter sports "Officials Appreciation Week."  

MI Student AidThe 5-minute program each week includes feature stories from MHSAA.com or network affiliates, along with "Be the Referee," a 60-second look at the fine art of officiating.

"This Week in High School Sports" is powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Listen to this week's show by Clicking Here.

Past editions

Jan. 25: Historic hoops wins, Michigan's national ranking in sports participation - Listen
Jan. 18:
Brad Bush joins MHSAA, Al DeMott sets coaching record - Listen
Jan. 4:
Winter Championships, Officials Recruitment - Listen
Nov. 23:
8-Player Football Finals, Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving Finals, Volleyball Finals - Listen
Nov. 18:
Concussion Myths, Navea Gauthier's record-setting Shelby volleyball season - Listen
Nov. 11:
Lower Peninsula Cross Country, Boys Soccer Finals review - Listen
Nov. 2:
Football Playoffs Week 1 notables, Fall 2022 championships and broadcasts - Listen
Oct. 26:
Football Playoffs pairings selection, Upper Peninsula Cross Country Finals - Listen
Oct. 19:
Sunday Selection Show, Lower Peninsula Girls Golf & Boys Tennis Finals - Listen
Oct. 12:
25th Women In Sports Leadership Conference highlights - Listen
Oct. 5:
Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals champions, Rockford's Anna Tracey - Listen
Sept. 28:
MHSAA Sportsmanship Summits return, Owosso's Macy Irelan - Listen
Sept. 21:
MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards, Marquette's Maddy Stern - Listen
Sept. 14:
MHSAA record books, Detroit Renaissance's Kaila Jackson - Listen
Sept. 7:
Sports Participation rebounding, Paw Paw's Paige Miller - Listen
Aug. 31:
Michigan Power Ratings and soccer seeding, Fenton's Gracie Olsen - Listen
Aug. 24:
Redesigned MHSAA.com, key dates and how to watch football in 2022 - Listen