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4 New Year’s Runolutions to improve your performance in 2014

by Mark Saunders
Tuesday 14th January 2014
Tags  Mark Saunders   |   Physio4Life   |   strength training   |   Pilates   |   cross training   |   strength and conditioning   |   Injury prevention

Mark Saunders, Director and Senior Physiotherapist at Physio4Life discusses why every athlete should look to “Change up” their routines on a regular basis

It’s at this time of year that everyone considers their New Year’s Resolution. Whether you are for or against the idea of a new leaf and a fresh start in 2014, you’ve no doubt taken the time to at least consider whether there’s something you really need to change in order to up your game for the year ahead.

But whether you believe in resolutions or not, every athlete should look to “Change up” their routines on a regular basis. Here’s why:

  • Changing up can improve performance
  • Changing up can turn weaknesses into strengths
  • Changing up increases motivation

Ask any modern professional sportsperson and they will talk to you about mixing up training blocks to make fitness gains and avoid things going stale. Even single discipline athletes such as a long distance runner will aim to take a rounded approach to training. Just look at Mo Farah who now incorporates boxing, core workouts and even weights work in the gym into his routine.

Whether you’re a serious competitor or just someone looking to get their backside in gear for the long year ahead, here are a few ways to change up you may not have thought of. Each of them offers a number of different health and performance benefits, and all of them offer you the opportunity to set yourself new targets when those split times just won’t come down any further.

  1. Hit the gym

    Many moons ago, the sight of a gym would have distance runners fleeing for the hills. But modern sports science has shown that dedicating time to developing strength and conditioning helps athletes to improve race pace, endurance and form. Another added benefit of strength exercises is that it helps prevent injury. Even if you’re not naturally a gym goer, setting rep or weight targets and achieving them can act as an incentive while the weather outside is frightful.
  2. On your bike

    Cycling more makes you better at running ...sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But in actual fact there are significant gains that can be made from spending some time off your pegs and in the saddle. Regular cycling can help a runner improve cadence and get their turnover up – great if you have a sluggish stride and inefficient action. Added to this, riding a bike gives you a chance to keep up work on your cardio without the same strain on joints and ligaments that lead to niggling injuries.
  3. Strike a Pilates pose

    For quite some time Pilates has been a well-kept secret in the world of running. But Pilates classes are becoming increasingly popular among athletes looking to make gains in strength, conditioning, balance and even breathing. The movements involved in Pilates improve posture in a way that can enhance biomechanics – resulting in a more relaxed, efficient and less injury prone running style – and encourage more controlled breathing to maximise oxygen intake during a cardio workout. Pilates classes are best started during the cold winter months when your motivation to pound the icy pavements is rock bottom.
  4. Swim it out

    Needless to say, swimming is a low-impact form of exercise and can be done whatever the weather outside. But swimming is also a great way for runners to improve their cardiorespiratory fitness. Dedicate your life to the pool and you could find yourself gaining too much muscle mass for long distance running, but slipping a half-hour dip in amongst your other training activities will produce genuine improvements in performance.

Remember: just because you consider yourself to be a runner, doesn’t mean you can’t spruce up your training schedule with other activities. In fact, setting new goals might just spice things up enough to keep you running hot when the weather is anything but.


About The Author

Mark Saunders

Mark Saunders is Director and Senior Physiotherapist at Physio4Life. Based in Putney, Physio4Life is London’s leading physiotherapists and sports injury clinic. Mark has worked for the NHS, in professional rugby and the Army before setting up in private practice.

He has worked with a number of professional athletes to help them achieve their goals, including 4x World Ironman Champion Chrissie Wellington, Ryder Cup Golfer Oliver Wilson and Wimbledon Champion Pat Cash.


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