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6 easy ways to become a better runner

Hate being in the back of the pack? Here’s how to step up your skills and improve your running game in no time. Never dread another jog again!

The only way to get in shape for running is to START running. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes, try to go for a jog every other day. Each week try to either add 8-10 minutes to your time or push the pace and speed things up. To keep your runs interesting, try a different route occasionally: It’s a great way to explore your area. Go with a buddy to stay safe!

Work on those abs
Your core strength is what supports you while you run. When you slump over and feel like you are about to fall to the ground, you are actually making it harder for yourself to breathe, and it is definitely not making you run any faster. To straighten up your back while running (and in everyday life!), start by doing 3 sets of 30 crunches and 2 sets of 20 bicycle crunches every other day. When you go for your runs pay attention to your posture by keeping your back straight and shoulders pulled back.

It’s time to tackle what ya dread: those hills! Start by finding 2 hills in your area, a small one and a big one, and once a week take a jog over to warm up. Try to begin with three sets of four runs up the small hills and two sets of four runs on the big hill. Keep at a constant run, even if it has to be the old man shuffle, and push through. Pump your arms and pick up your feet, and you’ll make it up in no time!

We’ve said it before, but intervals are the best thing to improve your endurance and speed if you’ve hit a running plateau. Try running at a normal pace for two minutes, then sprinting for one minute, then slowing down again for two minutes. Repeat the cycle for a full 12 minutes.

Stretch it out
Nothing is worse than not being able to walk the day after a running workout. Make sure after every run you stretch out your arms and legs to keep from cramping up. Alternate hard and easy days. After a hard day, pay special attention to your calves, shins and thighs to avoid any injury.

Keep it fun!
Remember, this isn’t the 2012 Olympics you are training for, so make sure you are still having a good time. Bring a friend along with you or make a pump-up playlist to keep you motivated. And if you miss a day here and there it’s not the end of the world. Just slip on those sneaks and hit the pavement.

BY ANA D’AMBROGI ON 9/6/2011 4:00:00 PM


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