To score a faster running time right from the start, try this simple expert-approved fitness trick

Getty Images

Want to shave seconds off your running start? Avoid temptation beforehand: A new study in The Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology found that when your willpower is depleted right before sprinting, you don't start as fast. (See more ways to improve your running with The Best Running Tips of All Time.)

"We all have a limited energy pool of willpower that empowers all self-control acts," says study author Chris Englert, Ph.D., of the University of Heidelberg's Institute of Sports and Sports Sciences in Germany. One key to sprinting is starting as soon as possible after the signal, and this impulse is regulated by self-control. When you use willpower, this pool depletes, which means fewer reserves to push yourself off the starting line, through one more set of squats, or one more mile.

So how do you keep your daily burn from suffering? Try taking five minutes to calm your mind and breathe: Active relaxation following a willpower-sapping task can help revitalize your self-control strength, Englert says. And try to exercise self-control regularly. Just like a human muscle, willpower can be get stronger with use, and exerting self-control in small doses helps your pool from depleting as quickly with every decision, Englert says.