What are the Best Tips for Running Conditioning?

B. Miller

Running conditioning is the process of conditioning the body to become stronger, develop better endurance, and build strength to become a better runner. Most people practice conditioning when they are training for a specific event, such as a race. Some of the best tips for running conditioning include varying the types of running that one does, as well as making sure to have a balance between running practice and strength training.

Jogging provides an aerobic workout.
Jogging provides an aerobic workout.

Of course, actual running is one of the largest parts of running conditioning. There are a few different methods to try to improve both one's endurance for distance runs, as well as one's speed. The first is to vary the terrain. Though simply running on flat ground is effective to lose weight and get in shape, running on varied terrain such as running up and down hills, or even through the woods, works different muscle groups in the legs and makes one a stronger runner. If one is only able to run on a treadmill, be sure to vary the incline regularly.

Sprinters should engage in stretching or light jogs before they run at maximum speed.
Sprinters should engage in stretching or light jogs before they run at maximum speed.

Another tip for running conditioning is to use interval training. Runners often insert periods of sprinting into their running workouts, which is a great way to increase overall speed. For instance, one might run at a normal pace for one or two minutes, then sprint for 30 seconds, then run normally for another minute or two, and so on. For each running workout, it is important to keep track of information such as distance covered, time spent, and heart rate, all of which can be used to track conditioning progress.

Runners condition their bodies.
Runners condition their bodies.

In addition to simply running for conditioning, one might also try other methods of aerobic conditioning such as biking or swimming. These also help to increase endurance, and work different muscle groups throughout the body. It is also important to use strength training as part of a running conditioning program. Exercises such as squats, lunges, and leg presses on a leg press machine are all important for building up strength in the legs. The abdominal and back muscles should be worked as well, in addition to the arms; be sure to give the body a day or two to recover after each strength training session.

Swimming is a whole body cardiovascular exercise that can build a runner's endurance.
Swimming is a whole body cardiovascular exercise that can build a runner's endurance.

Finally, when doing running conditioning, it is important to stay limber and to stretch after each workout. In addition, be sure to actively warm up before each run by walking briskly, or by jogging slowly. Warming up and cooling down for each workout is one of the best ways to prevent injuries, and to ensure that the body steadily increases in strength and physical fitness.

Running increases a person's heart rate and burns calories.
Running increases a person's heart rate and burns calories.
When running on a treadmill, vary the incline regularly.
When running on a treadmill, vary the incline regularly.
Interval training can help runners increase their speeds.
Interval training can help runners increase their speeds.
Cross country runners who are new to the sport should focus on building their stamina.
Cross country runners who are new to the sport should focus on building their stamina.
Most runners practice conditioning with a specific race or event in mind.
Most runners practice conditioning with a specific race or event in mind.
Running uphill can help increase speed and strength.
Running uphill can help increase speed and strength.

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Discussion Comments

Fa5t3r

@MrsPramm - Most people training for running are going to be working on a fairly basic level and should be worrying more about speed conditioning and agility training.

Usually once they get to the point where they are thinking about altitude training, they are working with a personal trainer and they will be supported in their decisions.

MrsPramm

@browncoat - There might be some truth to it, but she would have to be very careful not to hurt herself by getting too dehydrated or being exposed to too much sun.

There are definitely athletes training at deliberately high altitudes or hot conditions in order to condition their bodies to the point where easier conditions don't feel as difficult.

I'm not sure if casual runners really need to do this though. But I know that runners can be very competitive, even just within their own friendship groups. My best friend does a lot of running and she's always joking about wanting to beat the other people in her running group, even though they are quite supportive of each other.

I think it's very important to stay within reason though, as it's easy to get caught up in a culture of competition and go too far with your health.

browncoat

My friend claims that running when it's hot outside is one of the best ways of conditioning yourself to run better. She tries to go running during the heat of the day, rather than avoiding it like I do by running in the morning.

I don't know if there's any truth to it, but she does tend to be faster than I am in races. That could just be because she cares about it more though, as is evidenced by her running habits!

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