1. Consistency is King! - This is my #1 tip in running. You cannot expect to get good at running without consistently practicing it. Practice makes perfect. I can help you modify your training program if needed to fit your schedule and with your other obligations, but stick to your program. This leads to quicker gains in fitness and wards off injury.
2. Warm Up & Cool Down 100% of the Time - See your program for specific examples of warm ups and cool down. Warm up - Has it ever taken you several minutes or miles to feel "into a run?" Your muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and mind need time to warm up to properly adapt to your workout. ALWAYS perform a dynamic warm up before exercise. Cool down - Are you crunched for time and don't think you have 10 extra minutes for a cool down? Take the last 1/2 mile of your workout to walk, do leg swings, arm circles whatever to bring your heart rate & breathing back to normal. This allows for a redistribution of blood flow, enhancing lactic acid removal from the muscles and a reduction of body heat through convection & evaporation. Static stretching, or holding poses for 30 seconds or more is not recommended, but if you feel you must perform those movements, they should never be before your workout.
3. Have a Daily Mobility Practice - Do you feel totally pain-free on a daily basis? How about when you run or immediately after you run? If you have nagging injuries from running or other sports or accidents, have a plan in place to address some of those issues. And, the answer isn't to put a bandaid on the problems by consistently taking pain medications but rather to truly address and solve those issues that are ailing you. Otherwise, you will end up injuring other body parts when you compensate for the weaknesses causing your nagging injuries. Mixing in some pilates, yoga, ballet, playing with your kids, or walking the dog can all be great ways to improve your mobility. Use a foam roller and lacrosse balls to roll out hot spots and tense areas.
4. Make Strength Work a Priority - Strength work is extremely important for runners. Simply running and expecting to stay healthy and progress in your training is not advised. As you progress in training, your aerobic capabilities will outpace your bodies' capacity to handle the increased training. Implementing strength work into your routine will help minimize the gap between the two and reduce injury probability. Start with a focus on core and work from there - plank variations, lunges, inchworms, bridges, clam shells, calf raises, etc. Always perform strength work after your scheduled workout.
5. Run Easy - Polarizing your training is key to staying consistent. Easy days stay easy, hard days stay hard. How do you know what an easy day looks like? What should your pacing look like? The three C's will guide you for this concept - easy runs should be Controlled, Comfortable and Conversational. This allows you to boost fitness without overdoing it!
6. Run Long - Too many runners think they have to run faster to race faster. But most of the problem is not being able to maintain a fast pace - and that's a problem of endurance. The long run is one of the best ways to develop that endurance. Aim to run 2-5 miles longer than your next longest run of the week depending on your ability and goals. Endurance maintenance requires a long run of about 20-30% of your weekly mileage to boost endurance over time. Over the course of the training program, you will run faster as you improve your endurance.
7. Run Fast - Just as there is a time for slower/easier days, there is also a need in your training program to run fast (but under control). Adding fast days to your weekly plan can spark specific physiological changes and benefits. Examples of speed work include strides and fartleks. See your training program for more details on the recommended frequency and length of speed work for your level.
8. Be Accountable - Ask yourself: what support do I need to have in place to be consistent and ultimately achieve my goals? Is my significant other and children on board with my training plan and schedule? Be sure to use whatever tools you feel will help you stay consistent such as social media, daily tracking tools, a running watch, a running journal, checking in with me weekly to discuss progress, etc. Setting yourself up for success from the beginning will ensure you don't fall off the training wagon quickly. Marathon training is not the time to feel like you need to play catch up.
9. Be Realistic - Train Smart. Begin training from where you are currently from a running fitness standpoint and not from where you hope to be four months from now or have been in the past. Starting off too fast or aggressively is the quickest and surest way to injury and a lack of consistency.
10. The Other 23 Hours - When you are not training, be sure to (1) drink more fluids, with the majority containing electrolytes, (2) fuel your body with proper nutrition 100% of the time, (3) get enough rest every night, (4) use compression when needed, (5) get properly fitted for a pair of running shoes, and (6) stand more and sit less.