o Stay Consistent
Many of us miss a workout or two due to illness or travel or just life. Consistency is the number one ingredient to success. Take it one day at a time and try to get something in most days. Even if you have move runs around, running in the evening or doing a double workout and taking the next day as rest, that is better than missing a runIt’s all about just getting most of the runs in most of the time. If you don’t have much time, or desire to run, try to go out for just 30 minutes. Thirty minutes of running allows many physiological and psychological adaptations to occur, and running twice as long is not necessarily twice the benefit.
o Run hills to improve running economy and build sports specific strength
If you have a history of injury, try running uphill fast to get the same training adaptation as reps on the track at 5k race pace or just faster. You simply can’t run uphill as fast as you can on the flat terrain, so you have less chance of getting injured. Uphill running also builds sport specific strength and works on proper running form, but watch running downhill. There is a lot of force, many times your body weight, when you run downhill as each step triggers muscle-damaging eccentric contractions in the quadriceps and lower legs. Consider walking downhill or pick gentle surfaces like grass to run on when you do your hill work.
o Limit the duration of the “long run”
Runners come in all shapes, sizes and ability. A faster runner can run 20 miles or longer in 2:30, a slower runner may only log 14 miles. Coaching legend Jack Daniels draws the line at 2:30 hours for any one bout of running. I attended a conference with Jack and he told a story of how he once asked a fellow running coach what was so magical about the number 20 (miles). The coach said, it has a “2” in it to which Coach Jack replied, “so does 12”.
Diminishing returns and the risk of injury creep up on runs lasting longer than 2:30 hours. If you have a slower runner, try back-to-backs to get a similar benefit as one long run. Run 10 miles in the evening and the next morning, run another 10 miles. You will not be recovered from the previous evening’s run so you will be challenging your body to run “tired” with less risk of injury.
o Stay in the moment and Focus on the Task at Hand
Coach Jack Daniels told another story at our conference of an elite runner he once coached who was racing on the track and after a short time he was lagging behind the lead pack and, as he went by his coach, he asked if he could quit. Jack told him, he could quit when he caught the leaders. Now that the athletes had a task at hand and by accomplishing it, he could reach his goal of stopping, he raced hard to catch the lead pack. By the time he caught up, he had less than 1/4 mile left, so he figured he might as well stay in the race and he went on to win. Try to set several mini goals throughout an event, so that you don’t become overwhelmed. In a marathon, I like to focus on getting to the next aid station instead of the entire race. I also like to count down the miles. When I get into the single digits, I know I am closing in on the race.
Happy Running and good luck!