There's a quiet renaissance happening in American distance running. At the IAAF World Cross Country Championships this year, the Americans beat the vaunted Kenyans, a team we haven't bested since 1984. In 2012, Galen Rupp became the first American since 1964 to win a medal at 10,000 meters, and at the outdoor track and field world championships, Americans won medals in the men's and women's 800-meter and 1,500-meter races for the first time . . . ever.
What made the difference? Data-based training and nutrition practices from the top U.S. coaches and researchers. Lately these methods have spread from the front of the pack toward the back. "I use the same concepts with the fast runners as I do with the not-so-fast runners," says Greg McMillan, a Flagstaff-based coach who trains athletes of all levels, both pros and beginners. Here are 11 principles you need to know for more efficient training and faster times.
Don't change your form.
Getting professional instruction on running technique might seem like a good idea – improving your running economy is, after all, one of the surest ways to go faster for longer. Don't do it: Technique training for distance running simply doesn't work and can even be counterproductive. Research going back to the 1960s has shown that forced changes to form reduce running economy. Instead of tinkering with your stride, you simply need to run consistently, naturally developing a form that is most efficient for you.
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