Running is one of my personal favorites, being a marathoner trapped inside a triathlete’s body (you should see my legs) but it is the discipline that can contribute the most to injuries if not managed well. So here are some simple tips to make sure your running time is spent better.
Plan/vary Your Route
Over time we can become guilty of running the same loop/route/track week in and week out. Over time, this will not only become mentally repetitive but will wear down on your motivation levels. Be brave and explore, a change of scenery will refresh your running soul. Apps like MapMyRun can also help when in a foreign city or on holiday.
For your longer slow runs, you can also vary the terrain somewhat. Adding in some grass/cross country will train the stabilizer leg muscles that typically get overlooked when simply pounding the cement/tarmac routes.
Bonus tip: If training for a specific race, mirror that course in your key sessions – e.g. include hills or loops to try and replicate what you will be facing race day.
Know What You are Trying to Achieve
Before you lace up the runners, make sure you are clear on what the session is trying to do for your running. Is this a speed session, a tempo run or a recovery run? Be clear on what you are meant to do and how—this will help you eliminate junk miles from your training
Bonus tip: Also pick the right route for that session. If your workout involves running at race pace for 1km repeats, for example, try to find a flat route without traffic lights/obstacles that might require you to break out of your rhythm.
Don’t Forget Form
One of my favorite pieces of advice is to “dance like no one is watching” (mainly because I have the coordination and rhythm of “that” drunk uncle at a wedding). However, as I was running along the coast and found myself puffing out my chest; correcting my stride; and lifting my head tall as I spotted some club mates running towards me—it occurred to me that we should run like EVERYONE is watching! In running, good form is important (in dancing, well, less so).
Bonus tip: If you find yourself slowing for no reason, do a quick head-to-toe self “diagnostic” to get your form back. Is your head looking at the floor? Are you slumped over? Are your feet falling where they should? A quick form check should help you refocus and regain your efficiency.
Monitor Your Progress
Do keep a training log, whether you use TrainingPeaks or an old notebook. This will help you see progress in terms of improved times/distance covered and understand when runs are not going as planned.
Bonus tip: As part of the monitoring – keep a log of which shoes you used and for which run. This will help you keep track of when you should replace shoes with more than 500km in them.
Getting the most out of your running just requires a little more planning (route and session objectives), improved execution (watching form and mixing things up to challenge yourself/muscle groups) and monitoring your progress to know when to push on or pull back!
Enjoy and remember to run like everyone is watching!