There are lots of ways to improve running and the methods used depend on the metrics you choose to measure progress by. Let’s look at 3 of the easiest and most effective ways you can get better without spending more time running.


Improving balance

Better balance means you’re more stable on each foot when you land, and you may push off more forcefully with increased foot strength. Focus on lower leg strength and stability via unilateral exercises like squats, calf raises, and glute bridges performed on one leg at a time. Potentially look to replace some of the strengthening work you’re doing with this type of exercise or add this to your programme and exercise whilst the TV is on so you’re not losing time with your family.

Standing balance like this can easily be worked on during daily tasks like standing in a queue, cleaning your teeth, talking on the phone, washing the dishes, folding clothes or ironing. Think how long you do each of those on an average week and how much of an impact this would have on strength in the calves, glutes, and foot muscles in particular. Not only will it help to make you slightly faster, you’ll also reduce your injury risk.


Ensuring appropriate running sessions

You’re only going to improve if the training sessions you do have a good degree of specificity to the type of running you’re aiming to improve. There will always be some help from any given session, but if you’re wanting to run a marathon you have to train very differently from training for a 5k or 10k (although you may need to do some of this work outside of your marathon block in order to run a faster time). 

45 minutes of work at your target marathon pace is going to be more helpful than 45 minutes of 3-minute-long intervals (assuming you can currently run your target marathon pace for over 45 minutes of course). Same time spent, better end result for your goal.


Healthier diet

Better health equals better performance. There will be elements of this we can’t control, but no matter what health condition you may or may not have, you can work with it or let it take over. 

Lots of fruit and vegetables in your diet will mean you get the nutrients needed for good immune health and you’re less likely to miss training through colds and viruses. 1.4-2g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day means you’ll recover better, and injuries will repair faster. The right types of fats will give you energy as well as helping with vitamin absorption. Slower digesting carbohydrates with plenty of fibre will help with weight and body composition management meaning you have a higher power to weight ratio and will run faster with fewer injuries too.


This isn’t an exhaustive list of course, I’d recommend technical drills and often a degree of mileage increase too, but without increasing training time, these are things you can absolutely do to improve as a runner. Good luck.


Written by Kyle Brooks, Running Coach based in Norwich, Norfolk