If you have the opportunity to hang with professional runners or elite athletes, you may be able to pick up a few tidbits—how to pace yourself, which routes have the cleanest bathrooms, what to wear when the weather changes during your run. When I started running I used to ask coaches, trainers, nutritionists and veteran runners to share their strategies. I really wanted to become a good runner! Now I keep pushing myself to go beyond the things I have been able to achieve in my running career. I have mentioned already I want to qualify again for Olympic Games (Tokyo 2020 Here I come!!!). Thinking about what I have learned I want to share with you this list so you get to run longer, feel lighter and stay injury-free.
1 Run every day (but don’t skip the resting days)
Consistency is key to a successful program. A daily run helps improve your body’s ability to burn fat, along with your biomechanics. It also teaches your mind to blast through any challenge, whether it’s physical or mental.
While it’s true than running every day would be ideal, it’s also true that the body needs time to recover. I can’t run more than 5 days per week because my body tends to break if I do it (I guess I am not 20 anymore 😉 ). I have learned to substitute the other training sessions with a different kind of exercise that allows me to recover and to keep increasing my aerobic capacity and strength (swimming, yoga, bike riding or the elliptical in the gym are very good exercises for cross training).
2 Give yourself a reason
I started running because it makes me feel alive. When I was injured a friend of mine had an accident that left her paraplegic and in a wheel chair for the rest of her life, and with no physical sensation from her waist down. Every time I experience discomfort while running or some kind of pain (even the pain of an injury) I remember those who are still fighting their battles, those who can’t feel anything in their legs and that would trade anything not only to be able to walk or run but to have physical sensations whether they are painful or not.
3 Invest in comfort
Training well means getting out of your comfort zone physically and mentally. Being uncomfortable because of what we are wearing it’s not something we should go through. Invest in good running shoes that will allow you to run your best without getting injured. I love Skechers Performance running shoes, they have worked wonderfully for me. Since I started running with them not only I haven’t gotten injured but I have also run my best times with them. I qualified to Olympic Games while wearing Skechers Performance! My favorite model is the GoRun Ride 6
Invest also in a good pair of socks. Nothing kills a run like a blister about to pop.I wear SwiftWick Socks and I love them because since I started wearing them I don’t get blisters and I don’t have black toe nails!
4 Stay positive
Finish runs feeling strong and happy, not worn-out. It’ll keep you coming back for more and help you reduce injury risk. Remember you GET TO run, you don’t HAVE TO run. You run because you like it, not because you don’t have any other choice. Keeping this in mind will allow you to have a positive focus when training or racing gets hard.
5 Find your sweet spot
Write down your workouts, then color-code how they made you feel: yellow for amazing, orange for just OK and red for a bad one. It’s a visual way of seeing how your body responds and will help you pick up patterns. For example, if you’re always orange or red around your period (for women), stress times at work, or when you eat certain things that’s a sign that you should be doing lighter workouts on those days.
6 Be flexible
Use a foam roller three times a week to improve flexibility—it helps reduce injury better than static stretching. If you don’t have one you can use the kitchen roller. This will help you to get rid of the lactic acid and to recover faster.
7 Layer less
Always dress to run like it’s 10 to 15 degrees warmer than it is. As soon as you get out there and get moving, you’ll warm up and be glad you didn’t put on so many layers.
8 Put off partying
Steer clear of happy hour the day or two before a race or big training session (or weeks before!). Alcohol significantly impairs sleep quality and hydration levels, as well as recovery.
9 Train smart
In order to get stronger, your body needs time to rebuild. Mix easy days with tough, and avoid pushing when your body needs a break.
10 Forget the speedsters
Compare yourself with yourself. There will always be someone faster and leaner and who looks more like a runner than you do. Focus on the improvements you want to make for yourself. On my first race as an elite runner I still had a swimmer’s body (I was a world champion in the late 90’s). While I was slim, my arms and legs didn’t look how they look now. I remember being in the elevator at the host hotel with a teammate when several Kenyan runners got in. The first thing I thought was “I am twice their size!”. My friend verbally said the same thing I was thinking (when the Kenyans got out) and I remember how we talked about how Paula Radcliff (who to this day is the fastest female marathon runner with 2 hours and 15 minutes) weight was the same as mine and that didn’t impede her to run that fast. I will never have the same body as a Kenyan because I am Mexican and I have a different body type. I accept it and, to this day, that hasn’t been an obstacle to run well and run against the best in the world.
11 Be a social runner
Running can be an activity as solitary as we want to make it, but we can also make it as social as we want to. Even better, it’s been showed that there is a real benefit to making a connection with others—and no better way to do that than by running together. Tell your friends and family to come and run with you or, even better, make new friendships with other runners out there or that you meet in running groups in social media.
12 Talk to others about your goals
Tell people your goal. Post it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Call your mama. Putting yourself on blast keeps you accountable. It’s easier to stop trying something if no one else knows what you want to do but if you have already told everybody what you want to achieve is harder to stop trying. And don’t worry if you achieve your goal or not, at the end of the day people that care for you will be proud of your efforts not of your result.
Set a goal to complete a longer race (13.1 miles, 26.2 and if you have already run marathons think about running another one… or perhaps a linger distance!). The crossing of the finish will change your life!
Thanks for reading. Remember to follow me on twitter (@terezacher), Instagram (@InsightfulRunner), Facebook (Tere Zacher/Athlete) and in my blog (insightfulrunner.blog) for motivation and training tips throughout the day.