Are you looking to become a better runner? Do you feel like the only way to become a better runner is to simply run as far as you can as fast as you can?
Although running enough miles and doing high quality speed work will help you improve as a runner, there are other things you can do that will help you achieve your new personal bests.
Running as far as you can as fast as you can is actually not conducive to continuous improvement. This type of training will just wear you out and you will begin to hate life. I know this because I’ve been there.
I used to feel like I had to always run hard or else it was a “wasted run.” Clearly, I wasn’t recovering properly, felt tired and anxious all the time, until, finally, I got injured. It was very frustrating because I was depleted and feeling completely worn out.
If I knew then what I know now, things would have been different and maybe I would not have had to take 2 years off from training.
However, what I do know is that 2 years gave me enough time to recover and learn as much as I can about training, thus making me a better coach and athlete than I would have been if I had never experienced a setback.
Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to feel the joy of many personal bests in distances from 800m to the marathon.
So, what did I learn? How can I sum it up in 5 easy to read and understand points?
1. Run slow to get fast. Do approximately 80% of your training at an easy pace where you are still working aerobically. This will give you more time on your feet without the stress of having to go fast. It will also help you achieve an excellent level of fitness while you are enjoying running. You will also gain the ability to run long distances with ease and at a comfortable, steady pace.
2. It’s always better to undertrain than overtrain. Overtraining can have severe negative consequences on your fitness level because it does not allow you to recover properly. Therefore, overtraining can often leave you feeling extremely tired, miserable and anxious. Additionally, it can take the joy out of running and, worst of all, possibly leave you injured.
3. Strength training is important. No, I don’t mean trying to bench press 300 lbs or squat 400 lbs (although there is absolutely nothing wrong with having that goal, it won’t really help you with running if that’s what your focus is). I mean functional weight training that helps improve core stability and muscle balance around the joints to help prevent injury.
4. Stairs, skipping and plyometric workouts are good for you. Stairs simulate hills, as well as help you build strength and power in your legs. Stair climbing also helps strengthen stabilizer muscles in your legs which don’t get used as much during regular runs. Skipping and other plyometric workouts provide the same types of benefits in addition to taxing your cardiovascular system.
5. Timing of the workouts is important. In order to properly prepare for a race, you must know when and why you’re doing each workout leading up to it. In addition, you must know how to taper properly.
The trick is to find out what works and what doesn’t work, in any given training cycle, in order to do better next time. Your body will tell you all this information if you listen to it, both during workouts and on race day.
What are some things that helped you become a better runner?