Running is something we humans have been doing for thousands of years. Our bodies are built for it. But that doesn’t mean you can just hop off your couch and dominate the the New York City Marathon. A marathon takes months of preparation, training and perfecting technique. But even if you just want to improve your run so you can exercise more or run with friends on weekends, having good form and being strong will improve your likelihood of injury-free success.

On top of a growing list of podium finishes at marathons, half-marathons, 50k /100k and 100-mile races, Michael Wardian holds world records for marathons and has completed The Badwater Ultra — 135 miles in Death Valley. It’s safe to say the man knows how to run, so we asked him for a few pointers on increasing strength and improving mobility to become a better runner.

For Strength

Hold the Pace

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I like this workout because it helps me focus on trying to hold a faster pace as my body fatigues and to has to do battle like you do in races. This workout makes you faster and mentally strong. It also teaches patience and balance while holding pace. It can also be tweaked for any athlete because you can just reduce the amount of time and choose your own “steady pace.” — MW

Over the course of 90 mins, start with first 20 minutes at a comfortable pace, then pick the pace up as follows:

Set 1: 5 minutes at 10 seconds faster per mile than steady pace
(easy running for 30 seconds).
Set 2: 4 minutes at 15 seconds faster per mile than steady pace
(easy running for 30 seconds).
Set 3: 3 minutes at 20 seconds faster per mile than steady pace
(easy running for 30 seconds).
Set 4: 2 minutes at 30 seconds faster per mile than steady pace
(easy running for 30 seconds).
Set 5: 1 minutes at 60 seconds faster per mile than steady pace
(easy running for 30 seconds).

Finish out the 90 minutes back at the steady place you started at before workout.

For Mobility

Two Ways to Go About It

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For mobility I like to run trails. I think running trails — especially rocky, technical trails — is a great full-body mobility workout. But you can also do this workout on roads or a city street. Teach your body to adapt and adjust to various environmental stimuli and each time you do it you will become just a bit better at having the ability to change direction and planes dynamically. — MW Photo: Matt Ben Stone

60 minutes of running on trails: 15 minutes of easy running, then pick up the intensity. If you’re on trails, look for the most difficult route and try and maintain the pace for 30 minutes. Pick out trees to dodge and practice moving around rocks, roots, and branches. Finish the run with 15 minutes of steady running.

60 minutes of running on roads: 15 minutes of easy running, then pick up the intensity. Look for curbs, park benches, traffic cones, and dodge the obstacles. Always determine in advance whether to go to the right or left depending on which direction makes the most sense. Try to maintain a pace that’s hard for you, for 30 minutes. Pick out objects, people, places and practice moving around them and through the environment as quickly as possible. Then finish the run with 15 minutes of steady/faster running.

Strength and Stretching

Push-Ups and Yoga Poses

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I like push-ups because they give you strength but also help to keep your body limber and lithe. As runners, I also feel like the more strength we have, the better we can maintain form and power. — MW

Push-ups: A minimum of 50 push-ups every day should keep upper body strong. After each set of 10 push-ups go into the “downward dog” yoga pose and hold that for a minimum of 30 seconds.