How to Optimize Time Spent Running

A woman running into the sunset in the countryside.

As runners, we are a stubborn bunch. We like to run the way we want, when we want and where we want. We often are not open to changing our habits because running is one of the few things in our life that is entirely under our control and power. Since we are so stubborn, we as runners can especially benefit by acquiring a more open mind about how we can optimize our time spent running. Breaking down this wall of resistance to change will allow us to become more efficient, leaner, more fit runners.

All of us run for slightly different reasons but I believe that most of us can agree that we are interested in becoming leaner and improving our shape. Though we wish that fitness could be accomplished solely through running, we need to realize that optimizing your running alone will not help us accomplish this goal.

However, the good news is that all you need to do to make a big difference in your results is add strength moves into your run.

Runners are less injury prone, quicker, more fluid and efficient when their whole body has a certain strength about it: an ability to withstand and endure. Running is not the only thing that helps us build up our strength and aerobic capacity.

A New Approach to Running?

A woman running during sunset with a city in the background.

Next time you’re out for a run, try a variation of this approach for a sure shot way to make your heart rate sky rocket (and adapt your plan based on your running route and surroundings):

Integrate a 10 rep set of one of these moves after every 1 mile of running: lunges, squats, tricep dips, push ups.

  • Do a different move at the end of each mile to work your enter body equally.
  • It helps to have a park bench handy for modified push ups. (i.e. gripping your hands on the top of the backrest and pushing your chest up from there).
  • Keep in mind, runners tend to have weaker arms and need to start light and work up to tougher moves.
  • Squats and lunges can be made harder by transforming them into a squat jump or lunge jump move.
  • Tricep dips are best done using the seat of the park bench.

End your run strong and be at an all out sprint when you finish.

  • This will rev up your heart rate and keep it up longer than finishing your run at a sluggish pace, thus, you’ll burn more calories during and after you finish your workout.
  • Letting your legs extend to full stride as you run will act as a stretch for your tight muscles, lessening the need for static stetching after you complete your run.

Optimizing the time you spend outdoors running requires you to be in a motivated state, so turn on the music!

  • Make a playlist with upbeat music that makes your blood pump and gets you moving.
  • It’s helpful to construct your playlist with both moderate and high intensity music to coincide with your running strategy.

As your legs and lungs tire, do not sacrifice form for speed.

  • Sacrificing your upright running posture and running stride opens the door for injuries.
  • Training your muscles while maintaining a strong, proper posture also helps maximize performance.
  • Keeping up your form when you get tired makes it more challenging, thus, it is a better workout if you can keep it up.

On days when you forego the strength training and just choose to run, add in some stretches of running where you increase your speed enough to really challenge yourself for 30-50 second intervals.

  • Running with intermittent bursts of speed will exponentially amplify the calories you burn and make your workout much for effective. The days of long, slow runs should come to an end if you want to become your leanest and fittest.
  • Incorporating strength moves and speed into your runs does more than just enhance your caloric expenditure, as this type of training also helps increase the lean mass on your body. This is significant because lean mass burns more fuel than fat mass, thus transforming your body into a calorie burning machine.
  • Even when you are resting, your metabolism will increase as a result of these bodily changes.

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