Optimal Performance: 3 Ways to Improve Your Running Strategies

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Enhancing Your Running Economy: Strategies for Optimal Performance

In the dynamic world of running, efficiency reigns supreme. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a weekend warrior, the quest for better performance often centers around one crucial aspect: running economy. Running economy, simply put, refers to the energy cost of running at a given pace. The more efficient your running mechanics, the less energy you expend, allowing you to cover more ground with less effort. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore three proven strategies to boost your running economy and one common pitfall to avoid at all costs. So let’s jump into how we can Enhance Your Running Economy.

1. Run More: The Foundation of Success

At its core, running is a sport of consistency and progression. Running more lays the foundation for improved endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness—all of which directly contribute to a better running economy. However, increasing mileage isn’t just about logging endless miles; it’s about smart, structured training.

Effective training plans incorporate a variety of workouts, including easy runs, tempo runs, long runs, and recovery runs. Each serves a unique purpose: easy runs build an aerobic base, tempo runs improve lactate threshold, long runs enhance endurance, and recovery runs to aid in active recovery. By gradually increasing mileage while allowing for adequate rest and recovery, you’ll build a solid foundation for an improved running economy.

However, it’s crucial to listen to your body and avoid the temptation to ramp up mileage too quickly. Overtraining can lead to fatigue, burnout, and increased risk of injury. Instead, prioritize consistency and gradual progression, allowing your body to adapt and thrive over time.

2. Strength Training: Building Power and Resilience

Strength training is the secret weapon in every runner’s arsenal. By targeting key muscle groups—such as the core, glutes, hamstrings, and calves—strength training improves biomechanical efficiency, stability, and power output. Additionally, a strong body is more resilient to the repetitive stresses of running, reducing the risk of injury and promoting longevity in the sport.

Incorporating strength training into your routine doesn’t require fancy equipment or hours at the gym. Bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, and simple equipment like dumbbells can yield significant benefits. Focus on compound movements that mimic the demands of running, such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, planks, and calf raises. Aim for two to three strength training sessions per week, complementing your running workouts for a well-rounded training regimen.

3. Speed Work: Unleashing Your Inner Speedster

Speed work is the turbocharger of running performance. By incorporating intervals, tempo runs, and hill repeats into your training routine, you can improve cardiovascular fitness, increase the lactate threshold, and enhance overall speed and efficiency. Speed work challenges your body to adapt to higher intensities, pushing your limits and unlocking new levels of performance.

Interval training, in particular, involves alternating periods of high-intensity effort with recovery periods of lower intensity. This not only improves aerobic and anaerobic capacity but also trains your muscles to handle the demands of faster paces. Whether you’re sprinting on the track, tackling hills, or tempo running on the roads, speed work is a surefire way to elevate your running economy and race performance.

The Pitfall: Tinkering with Running Form

Amidst the quest for better performance, there’s one cardinal rule to remember: don’t mess with your running form. Your running form is a highly individualized aspect of your athleticism, shaped by your biomechanics, muscle imbalances, and years of muscle memory. Attempting to overhaul your running mechanics can lead to injury, frustration, and ultimately, a decline in the running economy.

Instead of focusing on drastic changes to your running gait, concentrate on small adjustments that can lead to big improvements. For instance, maintaining an upright posture, landing with a midfoot strike, and keeping your arms relaxed can all contribute to a smoother and more efficient stride. Embrace your unique running style and work with it, rather than against it.


In conclusion, enhancing your running economy requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses running more, strength training, and speed work. By gradually increasing mileage, building strength, and incorporating high-intensity workouts into your training regimen, you can optimize your performance and unlock your full potential as a runner. However, remember to tread carefully when it comes to tinkering with your running form—small adjustments are fine, but drastic changes can lead to trouble. With dedication, patience, and a commitment to smart training, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your running goals and enjoying the thrill of the run.

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Dr. AJ Cohen

Up And Running Physical Therapy

"We Help Runners And Active Adults In The Fort Collins Area Overcome Injury And Be Stronger Than Ever, Avoid Unnecessary Time Off, All Without Medications, Injections, Or Surgery."