To succeed in running you often have to look beyond the actual physical training and find those extra ways that might just give you the edge. Here are some surprising ideas that could go some way to helping you run better.

Focus on a race rival

If racing regularly then it’s possible that you’ll see the same runners race after race, especially when these runners are the ones leaving you in your wake. As you improve then you might start to claw back some of these runners in races so that the gap is in yards rather than laps. By making these runners your rivals in your head can do wonders for your performance levels.

The thinking here is that by having a running rival in mind, you can think about them when you are struggling to get out on your run, pigging out on the sofa, or wondering whether or not to have that extra drink in the pub. Having your rival in mind should spur you on to do the right thing and give you that extra boost of motivation. By keeping you rival in your sights on race day itself will also give you a target to latch onto.

Have a sports massage

It’s amazing how many runners have never had a sports massage. By not having one runners are missing out on a whole host of benefits which both aid recovery and help with injury prevention. Sports massage helps remove waste products and encourages the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients, making it great post-race. It also relaxes muscles and aids flexibility and circulation.

Regular runners, especially those who race frequently, should aim to get a sports massage on a frequent basis.

Regular runners, especially those who race frequently, should aim to get a sports massage on a frequent basis. A massage is particularly useful after a race or a significant long run. However, a deep sports massage the day before a big race should generally be avoided as this has the tendency to to make people feel tired, lethargic or sore and will have a negative effect on your race.

Think positively

If you have prepared well then you can prepare yourself mentally with good positive thinking. Without believing in yourself you probably can forget about putting in a decent performance. By reminding yourself of all the hard training you have put in will make you feel fit and firing.

By running through all those early morning runs, lunchtime runs, sessions at the gym and long runs at weekend, you will feel prepared and ready to tackle your event. Just remind yourself you’ve done this in training and you will do the same in the event, and you fully deserve to do well too.

Go easy on the long run

For the runner, the long run, usually completed at the weekend, is the key to good strength and endurance. But many runners try and push themselves too hard on the long run and often end up not finishing it.

The key to the long run is not to push too hard but instead keep the run comfortable...

The key to the long run is not to push too hard but instead keep the run comfortable, effectively running at a level where you could comfortably hold a conversation with someone if they were alongside you. If you are running alone, then you could always try singing quietly to yourself if you feel like you might be overstretching yourself on the run. This will help keep your pace at a suitable level.

Buy a slow cooker

A kitchen appliance in this list could seem a little leftfield, but bear with us. In order to recover properly from a run, it is recommended that you eat a decent meal contains carbs and some protein within two hours of completing your session. Many people find this difficult because the post-run routine of cool down, stretch, shower takes up much of this window.

In order to ensure you have something nutritious post-run, a slow cooker comes into its own. It allows you to prepare a balanced meal well in advance of your run and then it is ready for you as soon as you have come home and showered. The added bonus is that many slow cooker recipes provide a good balance of the slow release carbohydrates and protein that you require following your run.