How to Run Faster and Longer

Harder, better, faster, stronger is more than just a Daft Punk song. It’s what so many people want to achieve with their own conditioning, fitness, and strength. This might explain why the term “how to run faster” is searched for approximately 33,000 times on Google per month (with nearly three billion search results).

People are always looking for that extra edge, and running faster is an edge in almost any sport you can name.

Tips on How to Run Faster and Longer

What most people will find, though, is that there is no magic pill or secret formula to running faster. Anyone wondering how to run faster and longer won’t be surprised at the answer: hard work sustained over time. More specifically, athletes need to sustain hard work in a few key areas:

Focus on Technique

One of the things that sprinters work on over and over again is their start off the line. Long distance runners will focus heavily on form, too. Why? Because technique—efficiency of motion, essentially—can shave seconds off our times, allowing us to be as fast we possibly can be. If you want to run faster and longer, it’s important to not only get out there and practice, but to practice the right way. This starts with proper running technique.

Add Elevation and Altitude

Improving output and conditioning means introducing new challenges to your workouts. Working hill or altitude training can teach your body to do more with less oxygen—to perform under increased gravitational strain. Head to your local hiking trails, or choose the mountains for your next trips so you can get some alpine runs in. This will improve both your respiratory strength, lending to better short-term and long-term endurance.

Improve Your Core Strength

Your core is the epicenter of all movements. Gains in speed and endurance will not come without a solid core. Make sure you dedicate time to both static (planks and wall sits, for example) and dynamic (medicine ball workouts, for example) abdominal workouts. This will help you not only run faster and longer, but to perform better overall.

Recruit Your Fast-twitch Muscles

Fast-twitch muscles are the muscles you use for short bursts of high intensity movement, such as sprints, jumps, and even throwing a punch. Developing your fast-twitch muscles will train your body to recruit more of these muscles and improve your running, especially in the speed and quickness department. Sprints, lateral motion drills, and agility exercises, along with plyometric circuit work can make for a very effective fast-twitch exercise program.

Tools that Help Runners Push the Limits

There are a number of tools that can help runners push the limits. For starters, many high-performance athletes will use a heart rate monitor. By understanding their different heart rate zones, they can keep their bodies in hard and maximum zones to tap into their anaerobic system.

Other athletes will employ special training masks that simulate running at altitude. Athletes can wear these masks during their normal workouts to improve respiratory strength, another key aspect of one’s speed and conditioning (see hill and altitude training above).

Finally, treadmills allow runners to control speed and elevation for optimized workouts. Special treadmills, such as the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ line of produces, enable athletes to train beyond their maximum capacity—“overspeed training,” as it is commonly known. Using unweighting technology to reduce injury risk, an athlete can train approximately 8% to 13% faster than his or her maximum speed.

Read more about using the Anti-Gravity Treadmill to improve running.

When a Parent Suffers a Stroke

There are certain phone calls we never want to get, especially as our parents age. Finding out that a parent has had a stroke is among the worst. Immediately the questions begin swirling. What kind of stroke and how severe was it? How much cognitive and motor function was lost?

What will the stroke recovery process look like?

All valid and important questions to ask after such a phone call, one that, unfortunately, is far too common. According to the Internet Stroke Center, stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.

What to Do When a Family Member Has a Stroke

The stroke recovery process will begin in the hospital. Immediate and constant monitoring is usually necessary to help stabilize a stroke patient, assess the damage, and then develop a long-term plan for rehabilitation. This will involve a team of physicians, including neurologists, physical therapists, and other specialists. The time needed for convalescing will vary depending on the severity of the stroke.

As family members of a stroke victim, there are a few things we can do lend a hand throughout the stroke recovery process:

Be There for Them

At this time, it’s important to support the stroke victim. The easiest way to do so is to be by their side. Not only can you help them through this difficult time; but you can stay abreast of the latest information from the medical team, including outlook, treatment, and next steps.

Inform the Family

Reach out to family members to inform them of the event and to enlist their support. Visits. Food. A shoulder to cry on, a person to talk to. The stroke recovery process will “take a village,” and no single family member should be expected to shoulder the load alone.

Educate Yourself

Being able to identify stroke and understanding the treatment and recovery process will help you not only support your loved one, but cope with the trauma yourself. Here are some solid resources for stroke awareness and education:

Be an Advocate
Stroke education goes hand in hand with being an advocate for your parent after they suffer a stroke. In hospitals, the saying goes “squeaky wheel gets the oil first.” It’s up to you and your family to ask timely and relevant questions and communicate on behalf of the stroke victim. Stroke recovery is a long, multifaceted process—the opportunities for patient advocacy are plenty. Here are some considerations you’ll likely have to make:

  • Procedures or surgeries needed
  • Medication schedule
  • Fall risk and stroke repeat risk
  • Next step after the hospital
  • Home modifications
  • Post-discharge caregiving needs
  • Insurance considerations
  • Power of attorney
  • Living will and testament

What to Expect During Stroke Rehabilitation

Typically, stroke patients will transition from their inpatient care facility to either inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation. This is when the stroke patient begins the arduous work of relearning motor and speech skills, redeveloping cognitive function, and learning to live with any permanent damage caused by the stroke.

Stroke rehabilitation typically breaks down into three general areas:

  • Speech therapy 
  • Occupational therapy 
  • Physical therapy

During rehabilitation, therapists will make periodic assessments to help make recommendations for insurance companies, discharge, and post-therapy options. Therapists will also perform assessments on a patient’s ability to operate vehicles and return to work.

Because stroke events can severely affect balance and coordination, the rehabilitation process often includes specialized tools. The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ for example, is sometimes deployed during stroke rehabilitation to enable patients to exercise while limiting fall risk. Physical therapists can also use video monitoring to deliver fine-tuned therapy sessions.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

A wise doctor once said, “there are no minor strokes.” Every stroke is different, and every stroke patient will follow a different path to rehabilitation and recovery. It will never be easy—not for the patient, nor the patient’s family.

From the family’s perspective, there will be a lot of coping and psychological impact. Seeing a parent who was active for so many years lose function is tough. And there is a tendency for family members to shoulder more burden than is healthy or sustainable.

It is important that no one family member bear the burden alone. It’s also important to talk with other family members, seek support and additional information where necessary. Taking care of ourselves, leaning on the people close to use, and being good advocates are the best ways we can best support our parents through this difficult life event.

New Advancements in Evidence-Based Physical Therapy

In our last post, we explored the various benefits of evidence-based physical therapy. In recent years, physical therapy has seen great advancements in approaches to evidence-based care. Optimizing therapy for better outcomes requires new innovations, new tools, and new sources of objective data. Continue reading “New Advancements in Evidence-Based Physical Therapy”