How to become a better runner
Doing other physical activities is key to improving your running form
If you are looking to improve your running, do a range of physical activities.
There are plenty of low-impact exercises you should try out to strengthen your running muscles - core, quads, hamstrings, hips, back and shoulders - to build speed, stability and endurance.
With an improved form, you'll also lower your risk of injuries.
Need more convincing to break away from running once in a while?
Your joints deserve a break from the high impact.
And your mind, from the monotony.
On non-running days, do these highly recommended cross-training activities at moderate intensity and you will see a difference in your performance.
Cycling targets the quadriceps - big muscles that running alone won't awaken. Having weak quads can lead to knee problems, like runner's knee.
Hit the roads with your bicycle or join a spinning class once or twice weekly. If you've already been spinning regularly and wish to push yourself further, sign up for Virgin Active's Sufferfest classes.
These indoor cycling classes incorporate high-intensity interval training so that your muscles are constantly challenged.
Each class also has accompanying video footage that features officially licensed clips from professional races, such as the Tour de France, that will both motivate and entertain you as you exercise.
Done in a heated room of 38 to 42 deg C, hot yoga helps your body acclimatise to high humidity, every runner's pet peeve in Singapore. It also burns big calories, boosts metabolism and improves strength as well as flexibility, particularly in the core, quads, hamstrings and hips.
Studios such as Pure Yoga, True Yoga and Real Yoga offer a good range of hot yoga classes.
A strong core provides the stability and endurance you'll need to maintain an efficient running form, plus the power to sprint to the finishing line.
So make some time for core strengthening. You'll notice a firmer tummy too.
Lying on your back, do crunches or leg lifts, increasing the number of reps and holding time as you get stronger. If you prefer guidance, join a group class such as Core 360 at TripleFit Singapore, which teaches exercises that target the abs, glutes and back.
This includes bodyweight exercises, resistance training, weightlifting and essentially any type of workout that tires you out in a number of reps or specific holding time. These exercises should be a mainstay in your training plan.
Work on muscles surrounding the hips, legs and core. When you are starting out, it is best to engage a personal trainer who can recommend a regime that is tailored to your fitness level and goals.
Being in the water takes away the stress on your joints. Plus, swimming works often-neglected muscles such as those in the lower back and shoulders, while giving you a full-body aerobic workout. Swimming in cool conditions (under 26 deg C) is great for soothing sore muscles.
Swim at a relaxed pace weekly, clocking the same duration in the pool as you would at a training run.
This article first appeared in Shape, the only women's health and fitness magazine in Singapore.