Do you want to run faster? Looking for ways to improve your running times? Are you eager to see progress in your training? In this blog I will write about foundational pieces to your training that will help lead you to success.
- Consistent Commitment: Are you committed to training consistently? In high school a lot of my teammates showed up out of shape to fall cross-country. Simply put, they did not run much over the summer. This meant many would quit or suffer injuries because their bodies were not ready for the rigors of practice. The best runners on our team were those who made it a priority to be faithful to run consistently over the entire summer. Granted, there are always a few naturally gifted people who can run pretty fast and pretty far without much running but it is scary to think how much faster they could have been with consistency. I was the top runner on my high school team because I put in the hard work daily all year round to either maintain my physical shape or to improve upon it.
- Power through Pain: Let me put context to this. Powering through pain does not mean running through major injuries. Powering through pain is embracing that running hurts! When we push ourselves there is a major level of discomfort at times because our legs and lungs are being pushed to the max. A lot of my teammates in high school didn’t want to enter the pain cave. A lot of the runners were just doing cross-country to get in better shape for other sports, so there wasn’t a lot of incentive for them to push hard. Yet, if you want to be a better runner you are going to have to allow pain into your life on those hard workout days. The good news is that most of our running miles isn’t meant to be painful. Make your hard days hard and take your easy days easy. Power through those tough intervals and tempo runs. You’ll be glad you did!
- Rest and Recover: Hard workouts and pain is good. Equally important are those rest and recovery days. Your body breaks down and your muscles are used and abused during your hard runs. The improvement happens when you rest and recover. Your body repairs itself and comes back stronger! This is why you can’t skip rest and recovery days. Be careful, sometimes we do things on easy days that end up taxing our bodies more. For example, in high school I always loved a game of ultimate frisbee or soccer on easy days but sometimes my competitive nature caused me to play harder and longer than I should have. There is a lot of running in both of those sports! You may not notice at first that you are over doing it but eventually somewhere your body will crash and it could lead to injury or burnout. Let me also speak to those who are workaholics. You run as hard as you can every practice because the thought of taking it easy seems super lazy and you never want your competition to out work you. Rest and Recovery is for you too! Everyone needs easy days. Rest and Recovery also means to get sleep! I know a lot of us claim to be busy but getting to bed earlier will make a huge difference in how you feel and train.
- Dial in on your nutrition needs: I recently heard of a high school meet that supplied Red Bull energy drinks to runners. There are a lot of runners who drink multiple energy drinks or soda pops in a day. It’s also easy to grab hostess cakes, ding dongs, candy, and other unhealthy snacks because of the convenience. A lot of our foods today are loaded with sugar, processed, and unnatural ingredients. Your body needs natural and wholesome foods. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you just eat nothing but spinach. Yes, spinach is very good for you and I eat it all the time but my body also needs other things like rice, natural grains, lean meats, nuts, fruits, and other types of veggies. Since everyone is different, you need to find the foods that agree with your gut and that provide you the best source of energy and aid in recovery. Yes, food is not only fuel but it also can help heal your body after hard training. For example, I eat blueberries because they help fight inflammation in my muscles after hard workouts. What you put into your body can make a huge difference in how you feel during training and how your body strengthens itself to ward of injury and illness.
Love the Run: When you’ve lost the joy to run then your in trouble. Your motive to run might stem from peer pressure, a desire to stay fit or on top, or a myriad of other reasons but the most important long term reason to run will not be there. I have seen a lot of runners hang up the shoes after high school or college because the “love” for the run wasn’t there. Running is about more than just winning, hitting goals, or making achievements. Running is something you can enjoy and have fun with. Mix up your workouts, do something different like cross-fit or a play a different sport to get some running in. Go out with some friends and have a conversation as you run. Read articles on all the benefits or running or watch some inspirational true stories of other runners sharing their stories. When you love to run; running and making progress in it seems to take are of itself.