Get Better at Running – Without Running

March 24th 2020

I'm not built like a runner. I have a strong base, but I'm on the beefy side. My torso is large and bulky. I'm a little overweight. I'm basically the opposite of a gazelle.

But I have non-physical qualities that make me well suited for running. I'm stubborn. When I start something I have to finish it. I value efficiency. I like measured progress. Running is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. 

Running is about a lot more than just running. By the time you lace up your shoes, you're 90% of the way there.

-Andrew from SportMe

Thoughts, stories, or feedback? Hit reply and let us know.

Dive in...

Get Better Without Logging A Mile

There’s no question that to improve your running, it’s all about repetition. But there are also other ways to grow as a runner without actually hitting the pavement.

Here are a few of the small things you can do to become a better runner, no additional mileage required.

(But if you do want to measure your mileage, head on over to our app.)

How Can You Become a Better Runner Without Running?

The best running strategy helps you build muscle and train your lungs and some of this can happen in the comfort of your own home. Some people might run every day, but it's possible to add variety to your routine when you can’t actually go out and run. 


A squat exercise is a timeless technique that people enjoy; it works out the thigh muscles and calves, which are both imperative to running a long race. Weights can also be used to make the squats more effective at building lean muscle mass.

If you can, perform the squats with weights in a training room. This is a convenient spot for athletes to practice their form.

It's vital to take the time to follow a routine and perform these squats with precision; that way, it targets the right muscle groups. You’ll build endurance without running in no time. 

With daily practice, athletes can obtain the results that they want to see and feel.

Bicep Curls:

A fun exercise to do is the Bicep Curl. Try to include a lot of reps for each set of practices. Start with light weights and move up towards the heavier ones over time. Pay attention to potential muscle fatigue that takes place while doing the reps--after all, that is an indication of whether the bicep curls are working or not. If there is no muscle fatigue, then add more weights to the regimen.

These bicep curls are an excellent way to pack on lean muscle mass, and runners will appreciate a bulkier physique and stronger muscles over time.

Jump Rope:

Fit man jumping rope to train his body for running

Source: Joint Base Langley-Eustis

Jumping rope is simple and fun to do; all you have to do is take the rope out of the storage to practice. Jumping rope is a classic way to get your heart pumping and work out lots of different parts of the body.

Use the exercise as a warm-up method before moving on to other practices, or focus on a lengthy jump rope session that targets the whole body. Runners can work out various muscle groups thanks to this simple activity.

The idea is to last longer and build up more endurance over time. This is an appealing method for runners who want a quick and simple work out regimen at home.


Push-ups are a relatively simple and straightforward warm-up for most people. Let your arms lift and settle around your body when you do push-ups. Utilize a yoga mat at home to do these push-ups every single day, and try to increase the number of push-ups done per exercise routine.

Keep your elbows aligned, and don't leave the yoga mat while doing push-ups. Push-ups strengthen your lean muscle mass over time, and the routine is also perfect for making your body more adept when exercising. That’s why many runners include some push-ups exercises in their routines at home.

Looking for a way to increase your running game? Head over to our app! 

Plie Squat:

Gymnasts often use this warm-up form, but runners can benefit from this exercise as well. This exercise increases leg strength, which is essential to runners, and the routine is easy to do at home. Just remember to use proper form.

With that in mind, beginners will want to practice their form with a coach before completing the plie squat motion on their own. Get the form right to build up more stamina and endurance.

Use the routine as a break between exercises that include weights. This serves as a nice transition for most people working out at home.


This new and popular routine is appealing to a lot of runners these days. The idea is that people lie on the ground and get up quickly. While it may sound simple, it can actually be quite complicated and exhausting.

Burpees are fast and exciting for anyone who does them correctly. This exercise routine is helpful to runners who want to build up their stamina to tackle a marathon later down the line. Burpees are for anyone looking to do a quick exercise at home without actually running.

 Front Kicks:

The kicking motion of a front kick takes a lot of balance and energy to do correctly. While front kicks are typically associated with karate class, runners can actually improve their leg strength over time by practicing the motion.

Front kicks tone the body and train athletes to use their balance effectively. Athletes train long and hard to perfect their motion on the mat. It can be done at home instead of traveling to a gym for the exercise routine.

Jumping Jacks:

Marine getting better at running by doing jumping jacks


These quick exercises are gold for runners, and have shown positive results for other athletes. They warm up the body and prepare athletes for various activities throughout the day.

Jumping jacks are great exercises for all ages; they’re challenging, and help the runners work out their leg muscles. Add extra reps to the jumping jack routine to get your cardio in without running, and to improve overall cardiovascular health and endurance.

Workout of the Week: The Foam Roll

What is it? Ok, so it's not exactly a workout, but it's important! Even if your running biomechanics and form are perfect, you're inevitably going to find some areas that get tight or unhappy. If you don't already own a foam roller, get one. Using a foam roller on a regular basis is a great way to improve range of motion and expedite recovery. In short, using a foam roller for just a few minutes after every run will help you become a better runner without logging a mile.

How to execute it:

  1. Spend 20-30 seconds doing some quality self-massage of all the major muscle groups (calves, iliotibial bands, quadriceps, hamstrings, abductors, gluteus maximus, etc). If you find a particular area to be sensitive, it could use some foam rolling.
  2. Lower the sore spot onto the foam roller so that the roller is between the ground and the muscle. Lower it until you reach a point of discomfort, but not pain, and hold it there.
  3. Wait 20-30 seconds.
  4. The pressure alone is helpful, but rolling slowly back and forth is even better.
  5. Don't forget to breathe!

Why should you do it? Foam rolling helps runners increase range of motion and decrease recovery time after a hard workout. Though it can be uncomfortable, it is an important part of running maintenance.

Need help? Hit reply and we'll give you some personalized guidance.

Pro Tip: Treat Yourself after Improving Your Running (Without Running)

The overwhelming majority of discomfort and pain our runners report is tied to soft tissue. Soft tissue includes muscle, tendon, ligament, and fascia. Soft tissue tightens and contracts when you run. Running also creates microtears in muscle fiber.

Routines that include burpees, plie squats, and front kicks can also leave you fatigued. 

Left untreated, damaged soft tissue can lead to poor performance, aggravation, and injuries. A quality sports massage is all about making soft tissue healthy. If your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia are healthy, you'll likely be running happy.

Additionally, a quality sports massage can help improve your range of motion. Improved range of motion means improved running economy and efficiency. So, treat yourself and get a quality sports massage after running or exercises that improve your running (without running!). 

Did You Learn How to Get Better at Running Without Running? 

In conclusion, these exercise routines are fun and popular for most people. They help you get faster without having to actually run. Jumping jacks and front kicks should be warm-ups to jumpstart any activity throughout the day.

Take a page from pro athletes who tackle the marathon; they recommend these essential strategies for staying fit in the comfort of their own home. These workouts listed above are inspirational and can improve your strength, endurance, and flexibility during a big race.

 SportMe Highlight: Run Types

When you get your training plan on SportMe, you'll see all sorts of run types designed to improve different aspects of your running. These include Long Runs, Fartlek, Track, Tempo, and Target Pace, to name a few. Change things up a bit and try switching up your run types for a challenge.

Questions? Feedback? Check out SportMe here.