Have you been running for a while, but are currently in a bit of a running rut? It happens often when we get stuck doing the same routine over and over again. We tend to find what works and we stick to it and before we know it we haven’t set a PR in a few years.
I get understand completely!
To get things going again and moving in the right direction, sometimes it takes a bit of a shake up to see some changes. These changes don’t have to be life-altering, just simple tweaks and your running will go from “pretty good” to really “awesome” in no time!
Below, I’m going to outline 7 tips I believe we all need to hear every once in a while to keep things fresh and in perspective.
The “Do Something” Rule
If you’ve been stuck not knowing what to do or when to begin, my advice is to just start. When you get moving, you’ll figure it out. In running, something is better than nothing. If that means only getting in 20 minutes, it beats a day off. Sometimes, just the simple act of preparing for running can be enough to make some connections in your brain and get you going.
When every single run or workout is hard, you’re leaving no time for your body to rest and recover. Sure, some running days should be hard and so should some strength days, but the majority of our days should be done at a conservative and easy effort level. When we work out at a more relaxed pace, we’re able to do more work because it won’t take as long to recover. When we’re able to recover more quickly, we’re able to do more work sooner. Repeat this and you’ll actually be fitter from going slower and longer rather than shorter and faster.
Become a Planner
If running every day isn’t for you, you should be fairly rigid in when you have to run. What you don’t want to have happen is you make loose plans to run and then life gets in the way and you don’t run. Know you have a run/workout scheduled and plan to get it in. Try not to stack hard days next to each other without some planned rest before and after. As you become more seasoned, you can get away with this, but as a new runner, you’ll want to go in an easy-hard-easy pattern.
Taken a day off when you were supposed to run? You should try and make it up within 3-5 days. While you don’t want to stack back to back to back hard days, you should aim to keep your mileage consistent from week to week (if possible). When we have high weeks and low weeks we’re more susceptible to injuries.
As runners, we have to be flexible with our training. That means that if Tuesday looks better than Wednesday (weather, scheduling, life-wise), we should probably try and do our hard workout that day. It doesn’t mean let’s put off our workouts to Friday and Saturday because we didn’t have time.
Similarly, being “flexible” sounds a lot like doing some active stretches before we run and some static stretching after, right? Yes it sure does. It helps to be flexible and agile because the more athletic we can be the better we can be at keeping the injury bug away.
Build a Base
Distance runners aim to build a big base (run as much as possible without getting hurt) so that when you start doing workouts and faster paced runs, you have the foundation to build upon. Think of building a skyscraper with a weak foundation…what is likely to happen? It will tip over or crumble (you’ll be more susceptible to injury). So we aim to have a good foundation of easy runs and long runs to help support the faster workouts that are to come later in the training cycle.
Our bodies can adapt to a great amount of stress if we let it. We should aim to only increase one of three training variables at a time. When we stress more than one factor, we are more susceptible to injuries. However, we can trick our bodies into thinking we are just playing with one variable, when we can be altering two. The important key is to stay hydrated, get enough sleep and eat healthily.
The 3 variables are intensity, density and volume.
Intensity – how fast our perceived effort is for a given run
Density – how soon you allow yourself to recover between your workouts.
Volume – how much mileage are you running per day? per week? per month?
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Marc is a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach. I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners. Click for more information!
Marc is a middle school teacher and coach but also works with distance runners online. I help distance runners around the globe by providing support, writing customized training plans and designing workouts to help them reach their racing goals. I write for my blog every Wednesday morning and newsletter every Friday morning.
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