When it comes to improved running performance, there’s no cutting corners. I always talk about tips for runners regarding proper biomechanics, but there are many other ways to improve your performance, aside from improving your running form. For one, it starts with an improved diet, in which case healthy concentrated-herbs via all-natural supplements come in handy.
I’ve done the research and found many simple tricks you can do to run better. So, here some tips for runners that may help you run twice as long and hard, by giving you a mental boost.
Health and Performance Tips for Runners
There are multiple ways to enhance your running performance, ways that range from how you cook your food to how your facial expressions when you are running.
Optimal performance starts with your mind-set. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, found that if we have the right mind-set, well all have potential to grow and achieve success in all areas of life, including running. To do this, you need to have a ‘growth-mindset’, not a ‘fixed mind-set’. A growth mind-set includes stepping out of your comfort zone to learn hard and new things. This allows the brain to form new and stronger connections, boosting your performance abilities over time, according to Dweck. The biggest key here is to never say “will I always be this way? A slow runner?”. Instead, you need to always see yourself as evolving, this will also help you deal with hostile feelings toward your competitors, adds developmental psychologists David Yeagar.
For one, if you are an egg lover like, make sure to never scramble your eggs, and instead, eat them either boiled, poached, or sunny-side up. According to dietitian Robert Wildman, scrambling your eggs significantly reduces their vitamin B (biotin) content — vitamin B helps with energy support. Essentially, scrambling your eggs deactivates biotin and it’s health benefits because the protein avidin binds to it.
I love listening to music when I run, but I came across a study by Fiona Gupta, M.D who found that running without music on a nice sunny day in the trails stimulates the body’s ability to feel happier, bringing you back to feeling strong. The study found that bird sounds along with other sounds of nature reduces muscle aches and pain for up to 2 hours. The reason is that we as humans, evolved with and in nature, so we are naturally hard-wired to relax in response to soothing, nature sounds.
From a performance perspective, it turns out that what you wear when you run may affect your mind-set, performance and even hormone levels? According to a 2013 study in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, male athletes who wore red jerseys lifted heavier weights and had a higher heart rate as compared with athletes in blue. What prompted the study was that in 2004, the combat fighters who won gold, wore red more often —just something to think about.
Have laser-focused goals! There’s such thing as the goal-setting theory, and if you apply it to running, you will get faster a lot quicker. The leaders of this popular theory, Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, discovered that the more specific your goal, the better you will perform. They suggest that instead of ‘being a better runner’, try pin-pointing a specific result, such as adding a mile to your longer runs, or shaving a minute off your recent race, or increase your running frequency, instead of running twice a week, up that to 4 times a week, etc.
Here’s a clear call to action to help you get unstuck when fatigued during a marathon. Positive self-talking is very empowering and actually works very well. A 2011 study published in the Perspectives on Psychological Science found that motivational self-talk, saying phrases out loud to yourself, such as “I’m confident, strong and prepared”, or ” I run fast and strong. And with each and every step, I become a stronger and stronger person”. If you repeat these things out-loud when you feel like giving up, you will actually get more excited and more confident to push through the fatigue. This shows that finishing strong really can be done, even if you think that it can’t.
When it comes to pushing through pain-related fatigue, you must develop mental toughness to help you pull through. And it can be done with practice. In fact, studies have found that you have lots of mental control over your pain-state. All you need to do is practice focusing your attention away from your fatigue and onto something positive. Doing so decreases activity in areas of the brain that processes pain. And, the more you practice this mental trick, the more effective it will become over time.
When it’s hot and sunny, the heat may not be the reason why you are slowing down. If you run without sunglasses, you will most likely be squinting during your run, causing you to be mentally stressed. The squinting action contracts and flexes the same muscles between your eyes when you are worried and under-pressure. Try wearing sunglasses and smile as smiling increases the production of mood-elevating neurochemicals in the brain.
When it’s raining, you may also want to extend the duration of your run because running in the rain is actually very purifying! Or, run near an ocean, lake or river because these areas, or when it rains, generate negative ions which attach to pollution and energy-draining allergens, clearing the air before you breathe them in.
If you want fast performance results, you need to get a little competitive. The best way to do this is to train in a group, or with a running partner/friend. Studies have found that runners run faster and harder when racing against their rivals. According to Gavin Kiluff of New York University, if you like running solo and if you run on paths with other runners, pick out a runner a few yards ahead of you and picture yourself throwing a lasso around the person’s waist and reeling them in, little-by-little, until you catch up and eventually pass them.
When it’s sunny, make you runs extra long. According to Hyla Case MD, author of Natural Highs, the natural light that enters your eyes, is converted to nerve impulses that tell the brain to up the levels of mood-boosting neurochemicals, thereby making you feel more exhilarated and ready to run.
For an overall fueling tip, never wait and eat until you are extremely hungry because doing so causes over-loading spikes in blood-sugar levels which can end up damaging your body’s cells. The best thing to do is wait until you experience very minor hunger urges to eat because it will lower blood-sugar levels after you actually eat, creating more stable blood-sugar levels for running, so you don’t crash from sugar-fatigue when you are running a marathon.
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BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.