In the old school of thought, the way to improve your run was to run more. But as more research results have emerged, a new school of thought developed that proved there are ways to improve your run without running more. Let’s look at some of the ways.
If you have ever walked in a pool, then you know how hard it is against the resistance of water. Now try running in it. Pool running has been used for years as a rehabilitation method after an injury, but only recently is it being used to train. But because it is low impact, it is easier on the lower body joints. And its resistance is much greater than air, so it also builds endurance.
While running in the pool don’t forget to swim some laps. This works different muscles in both the upper and lower body along with building breathing endurance.
Here is another low-impact exercise, but used for a different reason. Biking with resistance not only builds up the leg muscles and breathing capacity, but it also increases the range of motion in your hip joints. This can lead to taking longer strides when running if you happen to be a short strider.
Running on a treadmill is another way to build endurance and increase your VO2 max. With the ability to increase the incline, you can make the run harder. Then when running outside, it will seem easier since you are running on a surface of less incline.
Other non-running forms of exercise:
If you are in a winter climate, one of the best ways to train to run better without running more is to cross-country ski. Cross-country skiing uses almost every large muscle group, both upper and lower body, so not only does it build strength, it builds endurance.
Your running friends may laugh at you with this one, but don’t overlook just walking. If used as a warm-up and cooldown exercise, it can be beneficial in the recovery after a run or preparing the body for an upcoming run. Also running can be a good form of rehabilitation if recovering from a running injury.
In general, use these non-running activities, or other cross-training opportunities, as enhancements to running. By varying the exercise, along with the volume, intensity and frequency, all are beneficial in their own way at improving your running without running more.