Beating your personal best is always a challenge. Whether you are looking to take a few seconds off your 5k running time, or add one or two more miles to your cycling record, it can be very dispiriting when you are agonisingly close to your target.

Sometimes, you may even be left to wonder what more you can possibly do to surpass your record. If improving your diet and exercise regime hasn’t helped, it can be easy to give up and accept you’ve reached your peak performance.

However, this does not have to be the case. Here are a few great tips to help you sail past your last top result!

1. Stretch, stretch, stretch!

Stretching can be seen as a bit of a nuisance. After all, we’re all busy and sometimes struggle to find the time to exercise, never mind do all the necessary warm-ups and warm-downs.

However, it is absolutely paramount that you find the time to stretch both before and after a rigorous workout. Stretching keeps muscles strong, flexible and healthy. When you do not stretch, they can become tight and shorten, meaning they do not fully extend when you need them to during exercise. Not stretching also puts you at risk of damaging them.

Your muscles will need to be working to their peak performance if you want to eclipse your personal best, so those extra few minutes of lunges could make all the difference.

2. Sleep well

For your body to reach its peak performance, it is key that you get enough shut-eye to allow muscles and joints to recover properly.

Even though it may be tempting to stay up late to watch the latest episode of your favourite TV show, those extra few hours of rest could be the difference between meeting and beating your personal best.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends six to nine hours for adults, and it’s important to listen to the advice, as it could be key in boosting your performance.

3. Work to strengthen your core

For both running and cycling, a strong core can have a positive impact on your success, according to research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

The study found that runners who have undergone core strength training sessions perform better than those who haven’t, and are more aware of the optimum posture required for running.

For cyclists, a strong core provides a stable platform for their hips, thighs and knees to operate from, while also helping to reduce back pain and tension. Perhaps do some abdominal crunches or sit-ups every day to strengthen your stomach muscles and it could help to push you past your record time.

4. Make protein-heavy post-workout snacks

Of course, exercise is only half of the battle when it comes to beating your personal best. You will also need a healthy diet tailored to help you meet your goals.

As well as stocking up on protein-rich foods such as turkey and ham for your main meals, it’s vital that you purchase healthy post-exercise snacks to boost your body’s recovery time.

Perhaps follow up your run or cycling session with peanut butter on whole wheat bread, or a protein shake. Such foods will help your muscles to heal and return to strength.