10 tips for runners who want to improve their fitness

Training, pace, tracking
10 tips for runners who want to improve their fitness

Faster, higher, further: With the right training method, considerable success can be achieved when running. In this overview you will find out what new stimuli the body needs for this.

Long and hard in marathons, short and explosive in sprints: running has many facets. Between these extremes lies a whole range of running styles. Learn how to increase your stamina and speed here. And why jogging keeps you fit and efficient.

1. Why does jogging improve your fitness?

Running is an ideal sport to improve cardiac and circulatory functions. From the first second, runners stimulate your immune system.

“Running is a mini-vaccine,” says Prof. Ingo Froboese of the German Sport University in Cologne (DSHS). Running optimizes the quality and quantity of the immune system.

“We make a diesel engine with our heart: running gives the heart more torque. The heart muscle is better supplied with blood, it becomes stronger”, explains Froboese.

“At the same time, trained runners lower their heart rate. Diesel engines live longer, the same applies to a trained heart”, explains Froboese.

2. How does running training improve our performance?

Froboese, who is also director of the Institute for Movement Therapy, Prevention and Movement Oriented Rehabilitation, names five other important effects of training:

  • More oxygen: By running we obtain a greater lung volume and we can better use the body’s oxygen.
  • Less weight: Endurance-trained people have about twice as many mitochondria (“mini power plants”) in their cells as untrained people. If you want to lose weight, you must run.
  • Better blood circulation: Running training optimizes blood circulation in the body and increases the elasticity of blood vessels.
  • Best Repair: Running also triggers hormonal processes in the body, more growth hormones are produced.
  • psychic balance: Running is a wonderful outlet for stress.

Strength training: Building muscle also improves running performance.

Strength training: Building muscle also improves running performance.
Photo: Franziska Gabbert/dpa-tmn

3. How often should you go for a run?

Ingo Froboese advises going for a run of at least 30 and up to 60 minutes three to four times a week and also training your muscles twice a week in the gym.

Our muscles are our shock absorbers, they give us stability. This is important for running. It is not about building muscle mass, but about strengthening the muscular corset.

The expert advises runners to train the following muscle groups:

  • calf muscles
  • front thigh
  • rear thigh
  • buttocks
  • pelvic floor
  • belly
  • the back
  • Back

The most effective, according to Froboese, are the exercises from higher to higher intensity to optimize the performance of the muscles. That means: Pick the weights in the gym so only eight to ten repetitions are possible.

4. How do runners find the right speed?

Control is everything when it comes to finding the perfect race pace. Therefore, Froboese advises:

  • Count the breaths at a given step rate.
  • Train your heart rate with a heart rate monitor.

breath control: “Inhale for four steps and exhale for four steps.” So the runner has the right pace for basic endurance.

The common formula for this is: Run without panting. If they run in pairs, they should be able to talk easily without having to gasp for air.

Running without panting: how runners find the right pace.

Running without panting: how runners find the right pace.
Photo: Marks Bodo/dpa-tmn

The general rule of thumb for fast jogging: “Inhale once for three steps, exhale once for three steps, that’s fast jogging,” explains Froboese.

Pulse monitoring: With a suitable watch, runners can see if they are in the correct heart rate range when jogging and training efficiently. Professionals definitely need a heart rate monitor.

In the performance area, heart rate monitoring is necessary. It can help beginners calibrate themselves, that is, determine their own maximum heart rate and thus find their own perfect running speed.

Golden Rule: 180 minus your age should be the upper limit of your heart rate when running,” says Froboese. In this area, the body is still sufficiently supplied with oxygen.

“Anyone who wants to know exactly should afford a professional performance diagnostic.” The individual heart rate is also precisely determined during endurance training on the treadmill.

By the way: Depending on the scope and method, performance diagnostics can cost several hundred euros. According to the German Society for Sports Medicine and Prevention (DGSP), some health insurance companies now also contribute to the costs. It’s worth asking.

5. How can runners improve regularly?

If you want to improve, you have to vary the training and increase the intensity.

What doesn’t work: “I regularly see runners going the same distance in their feel-good mode, always at the same pace, always at the same time,” says Froboese. That has nothing to do with training.

The “intensity black hole” is good for the soul, but otherwise the runners don’t benefit from it. To increase regularly, the body must receive different stimuli.

Challenge: Variety in running training increases performance.

Challenge: Variety in running training increases performance.
Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/dpa/dpa-tmn

  • Interval runs: Incorporate changes of rhythm in training.
  • Variation: walk the usual route in reverse
  • gradients: incorporate a hill or stairs into the workout
  • soil quality: running on asphalt, in the forest, on the sports field

6. When is the time to intensify training?

In principle, it’s very simple: “If I can cover a distance in a faster time, then I have to adjust my training,” says Froboese.

Advice: To verify this, it is worthwhile to run a measured distance or a certain distance on the track regularly and time it.

7. How many calories do you burn while jogging?

Calorie consumption while running varies greatly from person to person. It depends on many factors. Examples:

  • running speed
  • route profile
  • racing style

However, there are online tools that can be used to calculate calorie intake based on body weight, height, age, and gender. Examples:

Determine the approximate value: A common rule of thumb states that runners burn their body weight in calories per mile when jogging. An 80-kilogram runner burns 800 calories running 10 km.

8. What should runners eat before, during and after their training?

From a sports science standpoint, Ingo Froboese recommends the following nutritional tactics for running training:

Before training: A large glass of water directly before, two hours before at most a small portion of carbohydrates in the form of half a banana, otherwise the stomach should be relatively empty.

While training: Don’t eat or drink while you run for less than 90 minutes. If it is very hot, runners should drink something after 60 minutes.

After training: Quickly replenish fluid balance. Then eat a combination of carbohydrates and protein.

Recharge: Always drink enough after a long run.

Recharge: Always drink enough after a long run.
Photo: Tobias Hase/dpa-tmn

Drinking tip: Get on the scale before and after your run. The difference in grams is the amount of fluid in milliliters that you should drink. So if you have lost 600 grams, you should drink 600 milliliters.

Advice: To replenish your energy stores, you should eat carbohydrates, such as pasta, bread, or beans. The most important building material of the body: proteins. They are found, for example, in eggs, nuts, meat or whole grains. “Potatoes and eggs or pasta with olive oil and Parmesan, that works great,” says Ingo Froboese.

9. Are dietary supplements useful?

Whether it’s vitamins, minerals or other supplements, “men generally don’t need any dietary supplements,” says Froboese.

Froboese advises women who run several times a week to check their iron levels regularly with a blood test. Iron tablets should only be taken if recommended by a doctor.

The Assmann Foundation for Prevention also states that dietary supplements should be taken “only after an overt deficiency has been identified and in consultation with a physician.”

You can usually give your body the nutrients it needs through a balanced diet. You can use the standards of the German Nutrition Society (DGE) as a guide.

  • varied foods and mostly of plant origin
  • three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit a day
  • of bread, pasta, rice and flour, the integral variants
  • daily milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese
  • Fish once or twice a week
  • no more than 300 to 600 grams of meat per week
  • little sugar and salt
  • health-promoting fats like canola oil

10. Challenging Alternative: Trail Running

If you like variety and want to increase your training, you can try trail running as an alternative. In off-road cross country racing, the motto applies at the beginning: it is better to plan smaller races.

Cross-country running is a huge challenge for the body, especially when it comes to mountains. Training in the mountains can be a real performance booster, especially if you normally only ride in the flat country.

On the trails, you not only train your stamina and coordination, you also train your concentration, as you have to constantly be on the lookout for tripping hazards. Your body has to react quickly to new stimuli, such as obstacles, different surfaces, and road markings.

You can find trail suggestions, for example, at:

Tourist offices in cities and regions also provide information on routes suitable for trail running.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:211209-99-316026/35


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