Have you been vowing to start running but don't know where to begin? Or are you a regular runner that wants to go the extra mile? Whatever your level, it's important to get your technique right before trying to improve your form.
David Warden, a personal trainer and run coach at Equinox Fitness Club in Kensington, shares his top tips on developing running performance and stamina below:
1. Don't set the bar too high. Whilst optimism is definitely a good thing, expecting too much of yourself may leave you feeling deflated - not to mention sore! Like most things in life, in order to fall in love with running, you need to nurture your relationship with it.
2. Don't train too hard too soon. This can increase the risk of injury or lead to fatigue.
3. Get the right gear. Although running requires very little kit to get started, the most important being the right pair of trainers. Most of the main running specialist stores will now check your gait or running style to help you chose the right shoes for you.
4. Remember to warm up and cool down. You might be tempted to do a few static stretches, but the secret to good pre-exercise is dynamic movement that mimics the motion of running. This increase your heart rate, mobilize your joints and get you in the mood for exercise, plus it will raise you body temperature and improve your flexibility.
5. Pay attention to your form. With practice, you can make minor modifications to become a more efficient runner. Run "tall" and upright, not with a pronounced forward lean. Look toward the horizon, not at your feet. Run faster by increasing your stride turnover, not by overreaching with each stride. On uphills, shorten your stride, and drive more with the arms. Try to maintain even effort, not pace. When running downhill, let gravity work for you by leaning slightly forward.
6. Think of your body as one. Running doesn't just require strong legs and a good pair of lungs. Holding an upright posture over a long duration requires strong core stability. A good way of becoming a better runner is to strengthen the core and other muscle groups.Try a weekly circuit training session to make sure the whole body is getting a workout.
7. Add a little stretching and strengthening. If you're seeking more complete, total-body fitness, you need to supplement your running workouts with other exercises. These should aim to strengthen the muscles that running neglects, and stretch those that running tightens, which means strengthening the upper body and stretching the legs. Add a few minutes of this after your workouts, when these exercises tend to do the most good.
8. Log your runs. A diary is a running essential; its motivating and will highlight any weaknesses in your training. Note down how you felt during and after your run as well as distances and routes.
9. Plan your progress. Change some aspect of your training every two to three weeks. If you are new to running, it's good to build up your distances first rather than worrying about speed.
10. Incorporate more varied sessions into your program. Even for recreational runners, these offer huge gains.