(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, personal trainer, or anything else requiring a special certification related to health, fitness, or wellness. These are just my ramblings on my personal experiences and what I’ve learned from Google.)
I think I’m a bad runner.
The more I read about running, the more I realize I have no idea what I’m doing.
I started out with a New Year’s resolution to run a 15K and have kept returning to the same race year after year for 7 straight years now. While I am gradually getting faster each race (I’m not counting the year I had just gotten over the flu.. or the year it was hot), I want to get even faster.
I have a specific goal I’m aiming for for next year, but it’s ambitious- like shaving 10 to 15 minutes off my total time ambitious. While not impossible per se, it will involve me doing something different. To very loosely quote Albert Einstein: You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. So, I’m putting together a guide to things I want to try to add in to my routine over the next 11 months or so.
Start Strength Training
This is something I’ve begun incorporating into my fitness routine over the last few months and I’ve noticed that I’ve shaved about 30 seconds off of my mile time without feeling like it’s any more difficult.
An article in Runner’s World recommends adding in squats, deadlifts, lunges, chest presses, rows, and planks, specifically. While adding in all of these moves can feel a bit overwhelming, I’m a huge fan of Caroline Girvan’s videos on YouTube. Her Beginner Epic Series has been a big help for me! I’ve talked about it before, but I really love the total body dumbbell workout:
Join a Running Group or Sign up for a Running Class
I’ve always been a solo runner.
I don’t really have friends that are interested in running, so I usually find myself listening to audiobooks or podcasts on my runs and have to hold myself accountable when it comes to training and developing a training plan. (AKA, I don’t have anyone that’s waiting for me to meet up for a run and will send me angry texts if I bail.)
But this week, I decided to change it up and signed up for a 6-week running class.
I really have no idea what to expect over these next few weeks, but the first class was such a breath of fresh air being able to talk to people with the same passion for running. Maybe, I’ll find a running partner? Either way, I think I’ll end the course with a renewed excitement about running and hopefully more knowledgeable too.
Change Up the Distance
As I said above, I tend to train for 15Ks, but apparently focusing on just running a faster mile can have all sorts of benefits!
It turns out when you run faster, you actually tend to have better running form and can train yourself to run more efficiently this way. This is something my running coach said this week, but there’s more about that concept in this article here. I had no idea!
Changing up the distance could also include interval work and speed workouts. Normally, I just go for a run at one pace, so this is something I want to start doing, especially as my goal is to get faster.
I’m trying not to overwhelm myself with all sorts of new exercise habits, so I’ll probably be focusing on these three things for now. But I know the idea of cross-training is a big one. Swimming and cycling tend to come up a lot, but I’ll be honest, I don’t even own a bike.
And this is more of a reminder for me: Take rest days.
An active rest day could include a walk or yoga, but there’s nothing wrong with a complete rest day either. Sometimes when running starts to feel difficult, I find that taking a day of rest can make a complete difference for me, both mentally and physically. I just need to remember this.
Are you a runner? Let me know some of your favorite training secrets in the comments below!