10 Simple Rules for Better Running

The definitive shortlist to making strides in the world's most popular, natural and intuitive sport: running.

Oct 2, 2019

e founded Liminal Collective, with the purpose of enabling humanity’s boldest endeavors and democratizing our collective achievements. And that’s what this post is all about - democratizing knowledge.

It’s a big ambition. So where do we start? Well, why not the world’s most popular, natural and intuitive sport: running.

No one can deny that the science of running performance is well covered by practitioners and researchers. The body of work dedicated to this space is surely as extensive as Kilian Jornet’s trophy cabinet. There’s also too much pseudo-science out there, and people need to know that what they’re reading is truly going to help them perform.

So Christopher Lortie, Jamie Parker and Liminal Collective’s Hoby Darling and Andy Walshe published a synthesis. They took it upon themselves to study all the metadata and boil down the science into ten simple rules for runners, covering the three key measures of running performance - speed, increased endurance and reduced likelihood of injury.

And because we want everyone to have the chance to improve their performance, here are the ten rules, expressed simply for you to run with:

1. Spend time at altitude

Training under a shortage of oxygen (known as hypoxia) over extended periods of time will improve your endurance. This is typically achieved by training at altitude over two weeks or intermittently over a month. Then run at a lower elevation and you’ll see the results.

2. Cool down

You can improve your endurance by cooling down before and after prolonged running. It may seem obvious, but it’s scientifically proven and too often overlooked. What’s more, it’s easy. There’s no need to cool down the muscles - cold application direct to the skin is most effective.

3. Resistance train

If you add weights or pull sleds in your training regime, you’ll improve your endurance and your running efficiency. It’s fine to use moderate to heavy loads, but only once or twice a week. Avoid overload.

4. Jump train

Otherwise known as plyometrics, jump training increases your speed. Elite runners see benefits with 80 high-intensity jumps over 15 sessions a week for 10 weeks. Adapt to your level.

5. Skip stretching

But only if you’re injury free. This is a controversial topic. Evidence indicates that if you’re fit, you can skip.

6. Train hard for endurance, train fast for speed

That means, if you’re an endurance runner you should train at moderately low frequencies but at high loads. And if you’re a sprinter, no-resistance, high-intensity training increases speed, especially at a work-to-rest ratio of 1 to 0.25 for at least two weeks.

7. Recovery is critical

You can’t say it simpler than that. There’s more to learn in this space but it seems clear that cooling positively improves recovery through analgesic effects, such as muscle soreness.

8. Manage your longer training distances

The further you run, the more likely you are to injure yourself, with ultra-runners sustaining more injuries than any other category of runner. The performance benefits of increased training distances are offset by time out through injury. So manage those long runs carefully.

9. Decrease training ahead of competition

This is called tapering and is true of most sports, including running. You’ll get a better performance on the big day if you taper your training two weeks out, reducing volumes from 41-60 percent.

10. Be goal-centric

Mental state is a primary pillar of running performance, at least for endurance. A goal-centric approach is shown to be a positive motivation and performance factor.

There you have it. Lace up.

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