April marked my third year as a runner of some enthusiasm, and is a year of progress for me. I have always declared myself as a slow runner and was struggling to even break sub-30 minutes for 5km for the past two years. I had long resigned myself to fate as one of those who failed to win the genetics lottery to be a good runner.
However, everything changed when I met Choo Ling Er (instagram @lingultragal), Ironman age group world champion and four-time Kona bound athlete while working out at TripleFit. I have always been inspired by Ling’s achievements and comeback story, and I was thrilled when she offered to give me a personal sharing session on how to be a better, faster and more efficient runner.
At the sharing session, she showed me some dynamic warm-up moves, shared with me on how to achieve an efficient running posture, and tips on how to be a better runner. Practising what she had taught me, I managed to run sub-30minutes for 5km and sub-60 minutes for 10km after just two weeks!
Here are some key tips that I picked up that helped me to run faster and better:
- Warming up is essential as it can enhance performance. Pre-run dynamic stretching moves such as butt kicks, walking lunges, leg swings (front and sideways), hamstring sweep, and skipping will help in increasing range of motion, mobility, flexibility and dynamic strength. A warm engine will give you better horsepower for your run.
- Running form is crucial in helping achieve efficiency and reducing injuries. I was skeptical when Ling told me I would be able to shave off at least a few seconds from my pace time by simply making small adjustments to my arm swing and foot landing. Low and behold, my timing improved immediately at the run right after the session, and I almost broke 30 minutes for 5km. All it took was some small but conscious adjustments to my running form, such as swinging my arms backwards instead of trying to push them forward.
- Nutrition and hydration are important, and the fueling process is not limited to just during the training sessions. Pre-training and recovery are equally important. Ling introduced me to Pure Sports Nutrition, a range of high quality sports nutrition products with no artificial ingredients or coloring. Having adequate nutrition and hydration before, during and after a run do make a different to performance and recovery.
- Cross training is important to build stamina, endurance and prevent injuries. Swimming and biking, alongside strength training do help in making one a faster and better runner.