With the turn of the year the inevitable gym rush is upon us once again, but if you're looking for a more inexpensive way of burning off those Christmas roasts, why not simply go for a run?
Regardless of whether you run every day, or whether you just want to get started, here are six pieces of advice for someone who runs, in order to instantly improve their running technique.
1. Buddy Up
An obvious one. Team up with a couple of mates and organise to go running a couple of times a week. This will naturally make running more enjoyable, but also makes it more difficult to renege on your best intentions: it is much easier to decided not to go running when you are by yourself, rather than let down your friends.
2. Start doing "Fartleks"
Stop sniggering down the back. Fartlek is a Swedish word, meaning "speed play". It means the mixing of slower periods of running with fast bursts. So if you're out for a jog, pick a short distance in which to go full pelt: between to telephone poles, for example.
3. Increase your number of strides
It's obvious: the more strides you make, the further you go. When running, count the number of times your right foot touches the floor in a minute, and double it to get a total. The ideal aim is to make around 180 per minute, so if it is lower at the minute, you are wasting energy going vertically rather than forward. This means you should also shorten your stride: long leaps forward waste energy.
4. Watch where you are landing
Aim to land on your midsole, rather than your heel. Landing on the former will reduce the stress placed on your joints, particularly when running on hard ground.
5. Embrace "negative splits"
Negative splits are the term used when the latter half of your run is faster than the first-half. These should be the aim: if you are running to prepare for competition, it means you will be conditioned for the business end of the race. And even if not, this will naturally give your body added endurance.
6. Increase strength
Effective running does not give you an excuse to skip the weights. Any effective running plan should incorporate core and strength work to reduce the risk of injury. This can be done on the cheap: just incorporate squats, lunges, and planks into your running routine.