5 Things You Can Do To Be A Better Runner Right Now

If you’re a runner, you are probably trying to consistently improve. You know certain things, like building up mileage or nailing a PR, take time. However, there are things you can start doing today that will immediately impact your running. Let’s take a look at what those things are :)

Start doing these 5 things today to become a better runner!

Hip Openers

Most runners have tight hip flexors…it’s a common complaint. But tight hips can lead to a myriad of problems and biomechanical issues like lower back pain. When your hip flexors are tight, it can cause anterior pelvic tilt (your lower back arches, belly sticks), which is what can lead to back pain.

Hip flexors are usually tight because most of us sit all day in an office chair, which leads to tightening and shortening of the hip flexors, and lengthening and weakening of the glutes. Stretch your hips and do glute activating exercises people! ;)

A few of my favorite hip openers are: the usual one, where you lunge forward, put a knee on the floor and lean forward, pigeon pose (or modified pigeon pose), and butterfly. If you only have time for a few stretches after a run, make it a series of hip openers.


Going along with the above, start doing yoga! At first you might feel a bit awkward and unnatural, but it is a great way to increase strength, flexibility and balance…which are all so important in running. Once you start practicing regularly, you’ll notice that yoga will improve your range of motion. I used to not even be able to get into pigeon pose, and now I can do it with my forehead on the floor. And I was only doing yoga like 2-3 times a week!

We all have muscle imbalances, and running can exacerbate that. Yoga will help point out those imbalances to you so you can work on them. For example, I know that my left foot can’t balance in tree pose – I’m falling all over the place. My right foot has no problem and I can stand there forever. This is an imbalance I’m trying to work on, especially if running is a series of single foot strikes! Here are 3 yoga poses you can start doing today.

Core Work

This is the number one thing I need to work on. I told you guys last week about doing the Tone It Up Bikini Abs routine and not even being able to finish it. Yikes. A strong core is what maintains your posture and keeps you running strong. A lack of core strength can cause improper running mechanics, which can lead to injuries. When a certain muscle group is weak, it means another muscle group is compensating for that weakness and overworking. Apparently, 90% of runners have weak abs!

Don’t be a statistic (speaking to myself as well here) – work on your core! We know planks are an excellent core exercise. If you don’t want to do a video, at least throw in 3-4 exercises after your runs. Here are 4 key core exercises you can start doing.

Single Leg Training

Squats, squats, squats. And maybe deadlifts. That’s usually what people think of when they hear “leg day.” But runners also need to throw in some different exercise that directly correlates with running – aka single leg exercises.

Single leg exercises not only work your legs, but also your core, since it is a balancing act. According to Active:

Single-leg balance training teaches you to isolate and strengthen specific balance muscles while improving your reaction time. Only when muscles are balanced can the body run fast and efficient for long periods of time.

Something I have yet to master is the single leg squat…I can probably squat down like 5 inches. But one of my favorite exercises is the single leg deadlift/reach, or add in dumbbells to make it more challenging. OR do a single leg deadlift into a row to throw in some upper body action too.

Only have time for one exercise? Do a single leg balance, as Jenny Hadfield suggests. I start with 30 seconds and once that is easier I move on up. I’ve also done single leg balances on a bosu ball, which is obviouslt more challenging. Once either of those feels too easy, try doing them with your eyes closed. 


I remember doing strides at the end of runs during high school cross country, and I still do them to this day. Strides are accelerations for about 20-30 seconds. 

Strides help you work on your running form and mechanics. You can really focus on your form when you’re only running for a short period of time. Focus on quick foot turnover and pumping your arms. Strides help you learn how to quickly move your feet, which is key at the end of a race. They also help stretch out your legs after a run, and add some speed to your training runs without taxing your body like a track workout. 

When doing strides, start off at your normal pace, speed up to about 90% max, then gradually slow down. Don’t abruptly start or stop. I usually do an amount equal to what I ran. For example, 3 strides after a 3 miler, 6 strides after a 6 miler. Start with 3 after your runs and gradually increase.

Like I mentioned, focus on quick foot turnover, and also on keeping everything relaxed. Really focus on how your muscles feel. Are your arms and shoulders tense? Is your face tense? Are your fists balled up? Relaaaxxxxxxx everything and work on remembering that during the home stretch of your next race.

Sure a lot of things take time when it comes to running. If you’re a marathoner, you know what you do now will improve you running perhaps months or years down the road. Building up base mileage takes time. A lot of other things take time for you to see the effects. But I believe if you start adding these 5 things into your running routine, you’ll immediately feel the changes in your running and strength.

Which of these do you do regularly/is your number 1 running priority?

What do you need to work on? (I predict a lot of comments saying “core” lol)


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  1. Yoga is a huge way to be better as a runner–breathing, mental capacity, stability… so many others! Ankle circles as well!
    But the best thing you can do to become a better runner? Practice proper form rather than speed, whatever you do! And then build up to speed :D
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Le Colonial Chicago (Anniversary Dinner)My Profile

  2. i do single leg squats (w/my leg against the wall) every other day. makes a big difference :)
    Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC recently posted…My No Stats Checking Experiment My Profile

  3. I try to stretch my hips and roll every day. I probably average 4 or 5 times a week, but it’s better than nothing.
    I also agree on single leg work and also strengthening glutes and hips. I preach that because mine are soooooo weak!
    Ange @ Cowgirl Runs recently posted…40 YearsMy Profile

  4. You’ve hit all the high points! My coach also has me doing a lot of work to “fire the glutes”. Runners have weak glutes. The stuff she makes me do really has helped!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Race Day AnticipationMy Profile

  5. Couldn’t agree more. Sharing everywhere.
    Coach Henness recently posted…The One Where Everyone Got LostMy Profile

  6. Each one of my personal training clients who run tend to have tight hips and glutes. Great list of tips!
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Yoga soul snack: taking the risk to BLOSSOMMy Profile

  7. The hip and glute exercises are a necessity and I always feel it when I don’t do them
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…Transition Tips for Beginner TriathletesMy Profile

  8. That is a great list. It’s the exact “to do” list for running that I have for myself. I started doing a yoga video for runners focusing on strength and I noticed a huge difference in my running form almost immediately. And yes – I need to work on core strength…I’m going to check out that link right now(ish), :)

  9. I totally think core work is the most important for me! It helps me so much with my running!
    Aj @ NutriFitMama recently posted…What I Ate Wednesday | A Day Of Food InspirationMy Profile

  10. Yes to all of these! I’ve been incorporating all of them into my training (although I’ve been slacking on the yoga lately). Single leg exercises really help iron out any imbalances and really strengthen the glutes.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Adapting Your Running to a New CityMy Profile

  11. Really great tips! These are awesome for runners and non-runners alike. Will have to check out those core exercises you linked. Thanks for the post!
    Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment recently posted…WIAW #30: Squash MadnessMy Profile

  12. Yes to all of these! For some reason when I read the title the first thing I thought of was “sleep.” Clearly that’s something I’m lacking at the moment…
    Bri recently posted…Calorie counting: Is it really necessary for weight loss?My Profile

  13. Great tips. I have been incorporating a lot of these since I had a hip injury two years ago and had to stop running for six months. I am still not as consistent as I need to be but am working on it!
    Elena recently posted…12 Not To Miss Experiences in MarrakechMy Profile

  14. great tips! I think yoga complements running perfectly! I have been adding strides into my workouts recently too!
    Toni recently posted…Weekly Workout Wrap-Up, K-Fit 6 Challenge Week 1My Profile

  15. Great tips Patty. I had the worst hip flexor injury during the last Fall/Winter and I was down and out for months. Such a bad injury. I need to really make more effort in my stretching, but thank goodness I do Pure Barre classes {about 4 days a week} to help incorporate strength training and stretching.
    Lynda@fitnessmomwinecountry recently posted…Top 10 Timeouts I Wish I Could GiveMy Profile

  16. Yes! Great tips! I need to apply and do some of these moves you mention above! :)
    Rachel recently posted…Finding a Running Route Near YouMy Profile

  17. Love these tips!! I am seriously missing my running days, but hopefully just another few months and I’ll be back at it ;)
    Sarah @ Sweet Miles recently posted…Pregnancy: Week 19My Profile

  18. Agreed! Yoga is so helpful in maintaining flexibility and strength, improving coordination, balance, and concentration, as well as helping to reduce the chance of injury. I have been adding more hip openers into my stretching routine and definitely notice a difference.

  19. Great post! I’m definitely in need of single leg exercises. I do them sporadically, and need to make them more of a routine!
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…Friday Five: 5 ways to speed up post marathon recoveryMy Profile

  20. Yes!! love the hip openers – I have such bad hips, I can’t go more than 4 miles without them bothering me if I don’t practice yoga and doing hip openers.
    Sam @ PancakeWarriors recently posted…How to Stop Binge EatingMy Profile

  21. Love this post! Been wanting to do more yoga. I think it’s a great way to stay limber and prevent injury.
    Daisy @ Fit Wanderlust Runner recently posted…Things I Am Loving LatelyMy Profile

  22. Yoga has definitely helped with my hips and stretching out the running tightness. I definitely feel more flexible and better range of motion.
    Jennifer recently posted…Friday Five – Things I’m Looking Forward to in JuneMy Profile


  1. […] small things really do make a difference! Patty at Reach Your Peak lists 5 Things You Can Do to Be a Better Runner Right Now, and these things offer big improvements for little effort. I especially like her tip on single-leg […]

  2. […] 5 Things you can do to be a better runner! I need all 5 and more Yoga in my Life! […]

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