You want to push your limits when your feet are pounding the pavement. Whether you’re hoping to add more distance, cut down time or burn more calories, you want to finish your run feeling victorious. A small change could make all the difference. Runners that want to get that extra edge should follow these three simple tips to improve their workout:

  1. Check Your Shoes! 

Your feet are killing you after your workouts. On bad days, it happens midway through the run.  

The primary reason behind your pain could be your footwear. It could be that the shoes you chose at the store don’t offer the right arch-support, or they could be so worn down that they don’t have enough shock-absorption. These are your ultimate pieces of running equipment, and they’re letting you down. 

If you want to avoid foot pain after a workout — or other running injuries like shin splints and runner’s knee — you should get custom orthotics to improve the support, cushioning and shock-absorption in your shoes. They can be made to perfectly match with your feet, versus the general approach of store-bought inserts. 

If your shoes are run-down or several years old, you should replace them. Orthotics can only do so much.

  1. Be Strategic About Your Meals!

Healthy meals are essential for energy. If you go into an intense workout on an empty stomach, you’re not going to get very far before you get winded. Plan a light meal two to three hours before the workout to get the energy you need, without sabotaging the workout with discomfort or nausea.

The best pre-workout meals will be high in carbohydrates and have a bit of protein. A good choice would be a bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries on top. Or you can make no-bake protein balls out of wholesome ingredients like pitted dates, chia seeds, honey and chopped nuts. 

Don’t skip a meal after your workout, either. Getting the right nutrients into your body will improve muscle growth and recovery time. Ideally, you will want a combination of carbohydrates, fats and protein after your run. Simple ideas include a quick protein shake or a plate of grilled chicken and vegetables. 

  1. Don’t Forget To Cool Down!

After you’ve reached your running goal, you should do a cool down for three to ten minutes before you head to the gym locker-room or head back to your house. A cool down helps your heart rate return to normal, prevents you from feeling faint and eases you into the recovery period. 

End your run with a brisk walk, eventually slowing your pace. Then, carefully stretch out areas that were heavily used, like your feet, your legs and your hip flexors. The moves can reduce soreness during recovery. Stretching can also increase your flexibility and performance over time. 

These three tips could be the missing pieces to your workout. Following them could give you the edge you need to get through that plateau. Now, you can reach that running goal that’s been in your mind’s eye for so long.