Running takes motivation, and part of that motivation comes from—believe it or not—reading about running. It tends to validate our relationship with the sport and allows one to reflect on how running fits in to our own lives. Along those lines, here are five strategies to keep your running successful.
- Listen to your body. Sure, we’ve all heard this one before—it’s one of the oldest pieces of running advice there is. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. For example, if you listened to your body, you probably wouldn’t finish a marathon. And you probably wouldn’t get up at 5:00 a.m. to get in your daily miles. So the reality is, you have to listen to your mind as well as your body. Your body may be screaming, “Stop running—I don’t want to go 26 miles.” But your mind knows that you are in shape, you’ve trained, and that you’ll likely get through whatever bad patch your body is going through. Lesson: You can’t separate the mind from the body.
- Set goals. Whether you’re a recreational runner or a serious racing machine, goals provide a driving force for your effort. You may simply want to achieve a distance goal, like completing a half marathon, or you may want to set a training goal of running five days a week, or hitting a certain number of weekly miles. And of course, there are time goals in races—few things are more satisfying in running than setting personal bests. Lesson: Setting goals is the surest way to maintain motivation.
- Be consistent. Coach after coach will tell you that in endurance sports, consistency is key. Ryan Ponsonby, who coaches Ready to Run staff members Jen Hall and Drew Soucy is a big believer. “My goal for Jen has been to figure out what I could do to help and to keep her healthy so she could sustain consistent training,” said Ponsonby. In Hall’s case, that meant running the bulk of her mileage on dirt trails instead of asphalt. Lesson: You can’t race well if you can’t train well.
- Look at the big picture. Running can mean different things to you at different times in your life. Former RunTex owner Paul Carrozza points out that running for him has meant different things along the way since he was a young track star at Abilene Christian. There are times when you are striving to achieve greatness, and there are times when you are simply putting in miles to stay fit. And there are times when running is more about the mental stress relief it provides than anything else. Lesson: As you get older, and responsibilities change, you will not always be setting PRs. Sometimes it’s just about getting out there and doing it. Allow running to be the thread that knits your life together in its own way.
- Running is good medicine. The studies proving that exercise is one of the best things that humans can do to promote lifelong health are endless, and there continue to be new findings all the time. There’s no question that choosing an active lifestyle is full of myriad benefits—not just physical, but psychological as well. And it’s been proven that we can reap benefits no matter what age we are when beginning an exercise program. Lesson: Running—and exercise in general—should be a lifelong pursuit.