With the milder temperatures, longer days, more free time summer is the perfect time to work on improving your running. Incorporate at least one of these seven strategies for stronger and more enjoyable runs this season.
1. SUPPLEMENT YOUR RUNNING
Runners are a frequently injured bunch. Some studies show injury rates for runners as high as 60–65% annually. Running consistently is more than half the battle, but to be consistent, you need to prevent injuries by supplementing running with strength and core exercises.
Simple Solution: Perform 10–15 minutes of core work and strength exercises after a moderate level run 2-3 times a week.
2. KEEP A BASE LEVEL OF FITNESS
Runners who tend to get injured the most are the ones who stop and start often, or take frequent weeks or even months off. They are constantly in a cycle of trying to rebuild, which puts them at a greater risk for injury. If there is any magic bullet to running, it’s that running on average 20 miles per/week, consistently, even when not training for something specific to help you keep a strong running base.
Simple Solution: Stay consistent with how many days you run each week, again even when you’re not training for something specific. It’s all too easy to get off track when you start skipping runs on a regular basis.
3. CONSISTENCY REIGNS KING
Consistency, is a runners best friend. Training consistently over months and years is what allows you to weave together a sustainable and enjoyable running career.
Unfortunately, inconsistency can easily crop up in several areas — from mileage and number of runs per week to speed workouts. Sometimes it’s due to an unavoidable overload in other areas of your life, but a lot of the time it’s simply a result of losing focus or motivation, or not following a quality-training plan.
Simple Solution: Stay consistent by focusing on the little things that motivate you to get out on a regular basis, whether it’s a goal race, fundraising and training for a cause, or catching up with a friend or just enjoying the energy that comes from starting your day with a run.
4. VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
First consistency, now variation? Yes, you need them both. Although this may sound contradictory, the key is knowing when to apply each principle. You want to change up the types of runs you do (easy, moderate, hard), the type of workouts (tempos, hills, track) and the running surfaces to optimize running success.
Simple Solution: Make each run have a purpose. When your run is supposed to be easy, don’t be tempted to push hard. And when you have a key workout, give it your all. Avoid staying in cruise control.
5. THE REST OF YOUR LIFE IS HOLDING YOU BACK
The life of an elite runner is set up to provide the greatest possibility for improvement and success. While 99.9% of us can can’t replicate their schedules, we can certainly incorporate some of their habits into our own training. Here are a few key ingredients to success:
- Get enough sleep: This is your body’s prime time for repair and recovery. If you’re training hard, you aren’t going to recover well if you don’t get enough rest.
- Pay attention to your nutrition: The best foods for runners are real, whole foods. Simply focus your energy toward adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet and minimizing sugar and processed foods, and you’ll have more energy to push harder on your runs and play harder in your free time
- Limit life stress: Build a schedule that works with your life. Try to plan your training and races in a way that fits into your lifestyle and encourages you to stay consistent.
- Keep up with body maintenance: Maybe you can’t get a massage every week like the elites do, but you can certainly book one on occasion and keep up with self-maintenance, like foam rolling, at home.
Simple Solution: Don’t try to change too many things at once. Make simple, sustainable changes, like getting to bed 15 minutes earlier each week, drinking more water or adding more vegetables to one meal each day.
6. GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
When temperatures rise or motivation weans post-vacation, having a person to hold you accountable for getting out and running makes all the difference. You are much more apt to roll out of bed when you know a friend is waiting for you outside, or you are more likely to get to the track to run speed intervals after work when you know a team of runners will be there to do it with you (or without you as the case may be).
Simple Solution: Don’t do it alone! Find a team or running buddy to run with at least once a week. If one goes away on vacation, still run separately but at your same time slot to keep up the momentum. Follow each other and give the other encouragement through a running app like Map My Run or Endomondo.
7. HIRE A COACH
Everyone needs an expert’s outsider opinion — even the so called “experts.” Coaches take the guesswork and stress out of running and training. Coaches will design appropriate workouts for you and your goals, they tell you when to run, how hard to run, and even more importantly when to rest! They provide endless motivation and offer mindset strategies that help you believe in your own abilities. Frankly, they help you do the things you know you need to do but won’t do on your own, speed work, strides, form drills, stretching, cross-training, etc.
Simple Solution: Ask around for coaches in your area. Go to local running stores or running groups for recommendations. Or search for certified run coaches online through organizations like www.rrca.org.
LL Health can help you implement all of these strategies and more. Featuring a number of programs for the summer ranging from speed, track and hill workouts, training programs, group and private coaching, nutrition workshops, and PopUp sessions for cross training and more.
Check it out here