5 Ways to Improve Your Run Without Actually Going For a Run (2023)

Keira D’Amato will represent Team USA in August when she competes in the 2023 World Championship Marathon in Budapest, but while she’s at the top of her game right now, a series of injuries had forced her to take a hiatus from running altogether. Fortunately, successful surgery and discovering other sports helped her to make a welcome return and so she is now speedily chasing gold once again.

The world-class runner sat down with M&F Hers to explain the activities and training that have improved her performance, and it turns out that you can become a faster runner without actually going for one.

D’Amato is a four-time All-American and an 11-time Patriot league champion, blazing a trail while at American University where she competed in cross-country and track. However, after leaving college, she was forced to step aside due to a debilitating injury. Fortunately, she returned to the sport in 2009 and has been back on top ever since. In 2020, D’Amato proved that she was still an unstoppable force at age 36, by claiming the “world best” time in the women’s 10-mile distance (51 minutes and 23 seconds).

A year later, she won the Houston Marathon in another record-blasting time of 2 hours, 19 minutes and 12 seconds. With many more races yet to run in her remarkable career, D’Amato will never forget the injuries that almost brought her to a halt. “I had something called a ‘tarsal coalition,’” she says. “It was causing repetitive stress fractures in my foot. The only remedy for this was surgery, but unfortunately my insurance, in 2008, said it was a pre-existing condition and refused to cover it. That’s when I quit the sport and I really thought that I was gone for good. I started working at Freddie Mac, and they had great health insurance! I got the surgery in 2009.”

While D’Amato had to quit running, she never gave up on sports. When she finally returned in 2016, staying active proved to be highly beneficial. Here’s what helped to shape the rounded runner that she has become today.

(Video) Top 6 Tips On How To Run Without Getting Tired!

Participate in Other Sports

D’Amato may not have been going on runs, but during her time away, she got heavily into other sports such as soccer, and used her legs none the less. “I think some of the best runners now, started as athletes playing various sports,” she says. “Running is extremely repetitive, using the same muscles over and over again. It’s important to activate other muscles and make sure that some don’t get too dominant or too weak. By playing different sports, you develop and strengthen muscles that help you to stay healthy and strong for running. Soccer also taught me more about competition and I sprinted a ton, developing those fast twitch muscles, running for 90 minutes and building endurance. Soccer is such an awesome sport for overall fitness. It’s funny though, when I look back at my time playing soccer, I realize that I was destined to be a runner! If we were losing a game, I’d think, ‘sure, we are losing this game, but if it was a race around the field, I’d definitely win that!’”

Supplement Cleanly for Success

“I am very in tune with my body’s needs,” says the 38-year-old. “I do a blood panel analysis with InsideTracker every two to three months. Mainly, I try to get what my body needs through nutrition, but working out as much as I do, it’s nearly impossible. I take vitamin D every day and this blows my mind because I am outside so much, but my vitamin D levels are still low. I also take collagen in my coffee every morning plus iron, omega oil, and cosamin supplements. But I am super careful to make sure that I consume only supplements that are approved for clean sport.”

Get Your Head Straight

Your mental performance is just as important as your physical ability, but finding synergy takes time. D’Amato says that by running and then having a break in her career before returning, she’s learned a great deal about having the right mentality. Here’s the athlete’s take home tips, in her own words:

  • Accept Failure: Learn from it and move on. Being OK with failure allows you to risk big and go for it. A big element to my success!
  • Courage to Start: Anything awesome starts with the courage to set the goal, the courage to get dressed and get going, and the courage to do it again and again!
  • Focus on Progress: I want to be better than I was last week, and that’s not necessarily my “best ever” all of the time. I focus on little improvements and if you add those little improvements together, it creates something really special!
  • Patience:This is the secret sauce! Nothing happens overnight. Anything can happen if you are patient and build up slowly. It’s funny though, because I hate giving this advice… because it’s just not sexy. We want it all now, but it really is key: be patient!
  • Have Fun: I mean, what’s the alternative here? Not have fun? Pass! Have fun and enjoy the ride. Listen to something. Grab some headphones and put on a podcast, audiobook, or music. Distract your mind from the ‘suck’. Mix it up. Change your run route, change your pace, change who you run with, change the cardio. Try switching out a run for rowing or swimming. Just keep it fun!

Add Strength and Conditioning to Your Weekly Regime

“It’s so important to strengthen other muscles outside of running,” says D’Amato. “Since running is so repetitive, my body is always looking for ways to be more efficient. This can create lots of issues where there is a strength imbalance. Even though my glutes are some of my strongest muscles, they tend to turn off if not reminded to activate. I do a lot of exercises and strength training outside of running to make sure that all my muscles are staying engaged. The Hydrow indoor roweris a great way to wake up those glute muscles and make sure that they are pulling their load. I’ve also found, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve needed to lower my overall mileage each week, but I still want to get that cardio and exercise in, so I’ve been supplementing running with rowing and swimming. Rowing is a workout where you get bang for your buck. Nearly all of your muscles are activated and working when rowing or swimming. I can also do Pilates and strength workouts on the Hydrow.

Don’t Forget to Strengthen Your Feet

“I do a lot of exercises to strengthen my feet and ankles. The stronger and more stable your feet are, the less wiggling will happen in your knees,” says D’Amato, who does a lot of barefoot walking drills “Walking on my toes and heels in differing variations; I do one thing called a monster walk, not sure if that’s the formal name or if I made that up… because I look creepy doing it!” D’Amato, when not scaring the kids, also practices toe yoga (really, it’s a thing!). I’ll do toe yoga while standing in line, or watching dishes, chances are if I am standing and talking to you, I’m doing toe yoga then too!”


How can I improve my running without running? ›

Many need a break from running at some point in the year. Consider adding any of the following as a substitute: biking, rowing, elliptical machine, stair stepper, cross country skiing or swimming. If you push yourself on these non-impact options, all of these exercises can improve your running.

What will make running easier? ›

Ways to make running feel easier
  1. Get a good night's sleep. Everything feels better when you're well rested, and your body will perform better. ...
  2. Take belly breaths. ...
  3. Slow down. ...
  4. Get a little rhythm. ...
  5. Image: adamkaz/Getty Images.

How can I run 2 miles without stopping? ›

Slowing down your pace will help you be able to keep running without stopping because you'll be able to take in enough oxygen through your breathing and have your heart deliver it to your working muscles at a rate that keeps up with your exercise intensity.

Why is it so hard to improve running? ›

Our blood vessels also dilate to improve blood flow. At the same time, our muscles contract more forcefully, and our joints start to work harder. These changes require a lot of energy, which is why running can be such a challenging workout.

How do you breathe when running? ›

The best way to breathe while running is to inhale and exhale using both your nose and mouth combined. Breathing through both the mouth and the nose will keep your breathing steady and engage your diaphragm for maximum oxygen intake. It also allows you to expel carbon dioxide quickly.

How do I stop slowing down when running? ›

7 Ways to Make Sure You Do Not Slow Down in a Race
  1. Practice your pacing in workouts. ...
  2. Prove to yourself that consistency works. ...
  3. Start slower than you think you need to. ...
  4. Change the settings on your GPS watch. ...
  5. *Check your watch 1/2 mile in. ...
  6. Check in at random distances. ...
  7. Listen to your breathing.
Oct 30, 2015

What is runner's face? ›

Runner's face is a term used to describe changes in the facial appearance that some runners may experience over time, including leathery, saggy, aging, lean, and tired-looking skin.

Why do I struggle to breathe when I run? ›

This is called "exercise-induced bronchoconstriction" or EIB—also known as exercise-induced asthma. Trying to exercise can feel almost hopeless when you're struggling to breathe. However, with proper management, prevention and modifications, even people with EIB should be able to exercise their way to better health.

How can I run stronger? ›

10 Basics Of Becoming A Stronger Runner
  1. Strength Train. This is the most obvious one, but working with weights can help strengthen your muscles and prevent injuries. ...
  2. Plyometric Exercises. ...
  3. Hip Exercises. ...
  4. Stretch. ...
  5. Workout In The Pool. ...
  6. Run The Stairs (Or Hills) ...
  7. Eat For Strength. ...
  8. Stay Hydrated.
Jun 17, 2016

How do I increase my running power? ›

Improving Power to Run Faster
  1. Incorporate strength training. Running Power has a strong relationship with an individual's muscular strength. ...
  2. Perform running drills and power workouts. ...
  3. Make your training more challenging. ...
  4. Don't forget about stretching! ...
  5. Be aware of power-to-weight ratio benefit.

What muscles make you run faster? ›

We recommend focusing on the key muscle groups involved in running, such as quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Strengthening these key muscle groups will allow you to see immediate results as you run faster than you ever have before!

Is it better to run faster or longer? ›

Running Faster Burns Calories More Efficiently

Since it's more efficient, you'll burn more calories per mile when you're going faster — even if it means you're running for a shorter amount of time.

How can I mentally run faster? ›

These 7 Mental Tricks Can Train Your Brain To Help You Run Faster
  1. Ride the emotional waves. ...
  2. Learn when to mute that voice in your head. ...
  3. Become a reflective runner. ...
  4. Try chunking. ...
  5. Start counting. ...
  6. Use visualization techniques. ...
  7. Talk to yourself.
Oct 7, 2022

How do I run better form? ›

Consider these tips:
  1. Slightly lean forward from your waist while engaging your core.
  2. Lift your chest, soften your shoulders, and draw them away from your ears.
  3. Use short, fast strides to conserve energy.
  4. To reduce your chance of injury, land softly and quietly with minimal impact.
Jan 27, 2020

How many runs until it gets easier? ›

With that said, most new runners can expect running to feel easier after about three months or once they have built up to 30 minutes of continuous running.

Why running is the hardest sport? ›

The races themselves are not as easy as just going out and running. There is always a lot of strategy on starting, positioning and execution of a person's training during their race. Running requires a level of dedication and intelligence unlike any other sport.

Does running get easier the more you run? ›

If you want to know does running get easier, the answer is yes, both physically and mentally. But that doesn't mean that every day will feel easy once you have trained enough. Also, keep in mind that your brain needs training just as your body does, and it will take some time to become mentally stronger, so be patient.

Should you exhale through nose or mouth while running? ›

During high-intensity runs or sprints, it's recommended that you breathe through your mouth since it's more efficient. Inhaling and exhaling through your mouth allows more oxygen to enter your body and fuel your muscles.

Should I breathe through nose or mouth when running? ›

Most runners breathe through a combination of nose and mouth breathing, but research suggests that nose breathing—inhaling through your nose and out through your mouth—can bring more oxygen to your brain and your muscles. Your nostrils also filter allergens and add moisture to that inhaled air.

Is it safe to run with gum? ›

Most people can safely run while chewing gum, though every runner should be aware that chewing gum while running can potentially be a choking hazard.

How can I run faster with low stamina? ›

How to Increase Stamina and Endurance for Running
  1. Stay Consistent. You build endurance by running as regularly as you can. ...
  2. Increase Your Mileage Gradually. ...
  3. Incorporate HIIT Into Your Training. ...
  4. Practice Plyometrics. ...
  5. Manage Your Stress. ...
  6. Run 800-Meter Intervals. ...
  7. Don't Skip Strength Training.
Dec 3, 2021

How can I run 2 miles easily? ›

Examples of speed workouts to train to run your fastest 2 miles include running 400-meter repeats or 800-meter repeats on the track (such as 8-10 x 400 at goal pace) or adding bursts of fast running during your distance runs outside or on the treadmill (called fartlek workouts).

How many miles can you run without stopping? ›

The average male or female will feel like they need to stop running between 15 and 22 miles. The common term for this is 'hitting the wall', and the exact point that you stop can depend on pace, stamina, and endurance.


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