One of the most common excuses for not getting a run in or not accomplishing a goal is ‘I don’t have the time,’ but not all running improvements are the result of long-term goals and a months-long commitment.
Tiny actions, done consistently, can have a huge impact on your running.
10-Minute Run Add-Ons To Improve Your Running
How about 10 minutes? Surely you have 10 minutes.
Run one less mile, or tack on an additional 10 minutes to the end of your regular run to fit in one (or more!) of these run add-ons.
Stretching is a critical component of your fitness, mobility, and recovery. Stretching your entire body will leave you feeling more relaxed and lengthened.
Following a pre-set routine is a great way to ensure no area is forgotten. This stretching can be done as a stand-alone workout or after a run.
While I love a condensed workout as much as the next girl, even I’ll admit 10 minutes isn’t enough time to do a full-body yoga workout.
But don’t think all-or-nothing.
Just because you can’t get everything done doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything. Pick an area of focus for each day of the week and do yoga moves focusing on that area. A sample 10-minute yoga for runners routine:
- Monday: Legs and Thighs
- Tuesday: Upper Body
- Wednesday: Hip Openers
- Thursday: Core and Back
- Friday: Glutes and Hips
- Saturday: Ankles and Feet
- Sunday: Neck and Shoulders
Like with yoga, 10 minutes isn’t enough time to do a full-body strength workout. However, you can focus on a single area and get a solid strength workout done in that time.
Focus on lower-body strength moves one day, core a few days later, then back and upper body, with a few day’s rest in-between strength days.
Run a Hill
What is a ‘hill’ is for you will vary based on where you live. In some areas, a parking ramp is as hilly as you’ll ever get. In my neighborhood, I can climb several hundred feet in a 3 mile run.
Whatever your hill is, you should do them. Adding 10-minutes of hill repeats into an otherwise flat run will turbo-charge your running.
- Hills are strength work in disguise. Running hills builds muscles in your calves, quads and butt. Even your upper body gets involved since an effective tool in hill running is a powerful arm swing and a strong core.
- Hills will make you a more well-rounded runner since your body is moving in different planes and levels of incline. Mixing it up with the ups and the downs can decrease your chance of injury and decrease muscle soreness.
- Hills will amp up your intensity. Going uphill, your legs, lungs and heart will all have to work way harder. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time running fast enough on the flats to get my intensity to my upper limits. But running a moderate uphill at a moderate pace will shoot my intensity through the roof.
Not all runners have the inclination (or need) to do formal track or speed work. However, most runners can benefit from fartleks.
Fartlek (Swedish for ‘speed play’) are bursts of speed added into… well… anything.
Fartleks can be random and unstructured (“I’m gonna speed up until I hit that stop sign up ahead,”) or more formal and planned out (“I’ll speed up the last 10 seconds of each mile during this run”).
They can be made to suit nearly every running style and temperament. Try adding in 10-minutes of fartleks into your next run by:
- Run for a mile (or more) at a comfortable pace to warm-up
- Pick a landmark in the distance (a telephone pole, a mailbox, a tree) then run at a faster pace, generally 20-30 seconds faster than your comfortable pace (but go by feel)
- Once you’ve reached it, slow down and recover at your comfortable pace for as long as necessary
- Pick another landmark, and repeat
- End with about a mile of running at a comfortable pace
Don’t forget your mind is a muscle too. During your run, spend some time connecting your body and your mind. As you run, scan your body from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. Ask yourself:
- How is your posture?
- Where is your gaze? Down at your feet or more ahead of you?
- Is your jaw loose or clenched?
- Are your shoulders down along your back or scrunched up to your ears?
- Is your chest open and broad or constricted?
- How are your hands? Loose and relaxed or clenched in a fist?
- Are your hips and pelvis feeling light or heavy?
Notice the feeling of the soles of your feet hitting the pavement.
Find where you are holding the stress of your life in your body and how it shows up or impacts your run.
Notice whatever it is you notice, pleasant or not. Don’t assign meaning to any of the sensations (as in: I feel a niggle in my knee- that must mean I’m injured). Don’t judge or rate these sensations as good or bad.
Change what you believe needs changing (for example, unclenching your fists or jaw) and accept everything else for what it is.
If you aren’t sure about DIYing a mindfulness run, some apps (like the Nike + Run app) have guided mindfulness runs.
Not all improvements to your running have to happen during your run.
I’ve written before about why I think all runners should keep a running journal, so I won’t repeat myself here other than to say the best way to discover the patterns (both positive and negative) in your running is to write about them.
After each run, spend a few minutes jotting down a few notes about the run. Don’t just write down stats like the distance you ran or your pace; record what you were thinking about or external factors that may have impacted your run.
The impacts of life stresses or poor sleep can often only be noticed over the course of many runs. You may need to look back at a few weeks of entries to notice that you had the same thought on nearly every run.