I hit a big personal milestone this past weekend. I ran the Gate River Run 15k for my 5th year in a row. To me, it’s so surreal. I was never a runner and still struggle to identify myself as a ‘runner.’ But a little over five years ago, I made a New Year’s Resolution to start running and it actually worked. (Just one of my reasons I don’t understand all the hate on making resolutions).
Reflecting on my journey over the past five years, I’ve learned four important lessons about how to become a better runner.
The Four Lessons I’ve Learned About How to Become A Better Runner
1. It gets easier after the first mile
I find this to be true for training for a big race, but also for every single run.
When it comes to training, once you’ve finally conditioned yourself to be able to run one mile, adding on another mile is so much easier. Training to run two miles, three miles, and so on, is way easier than training to crack that very first mile. Not sure why, but don’t give up.
Now for each run, no matter how far you’re capable of going, that first mile you do always seems to be the hardest. I find myself thinking things like ‘maybe I’ll just do short run today.’ But I’ve found if I can just persevere through that first mile of the day, all the others feel a lot easier and I’m always glad I’ve stuck with it.
2. There are good runs and bad runs
No matter how in shape you get, there are days a run just isn’t going to go well. Maybe, it’s too hot. Maybe, you’re wearing the wrong socks. Maybe, you have a blister. Whatever the reason, there are always going to be runs that, honestly, aren’t that fun. But it’s important to keep showing up. Some days you’ll get lucky and you feel like you could run forever. That’s what runners are always chasing.
3. Focus on speed OR on distance, not both
This is something I’ve struggled with. Whenever you tell people you run or have run a race, they always ask about your time or your mile pace. But for me, I’m focused on showing up and putting in the miles. I’ve never really been worried about pace or my speed. I’ve put my focus on distance. Whenever I try to do both, I usually end up with shin splints. This forces me to take a break from running to heal up.
That said, now that I’ve hit some of my distance goals, I do want to focus more on speed. But first, I want to get a half marathon under my belt.
4. Don’t listen to music
Alright, I’ll admit this one is just personal preference, but I think this made a world of difference in my journey in becoming a better runner.
When I first started getting into running, I kept trying to put together the ‘perfect’ running playlist that would keep me motivated. Nothing worked. I was bored. I began to hate my favorite songs. I never realized a three minute song could feel sooo long. My feet hurt. I could feel every drop of sweat on my body. It just wasn’t working.
That’s when I switched to listening to podcasts during my runs. What a game changer! My brain finally had something to engage it, so I didn’t focus so much on the sometimes uncomfortable sensations of running. Plus, it feels like multi-tasking. I can learn while getting exercise. The point is, find what works for you. Maybe, it’s not music.
Extra resources on how to become a better runner
Whether you’re just getting into running or are looking for how to become a better runner, this 25 Golden Rules of Running from Runner’s World is an important read.
Got any secrets you want to share on how to become a better runner? Leave me a comment below!