We always focus on achieving the physiological goals of training to improve a runner’s fitness and race times. This year consider other ways to help achieve better outcomes and your most enjoyable year of running yet.
Below are very achievable goals which can lead towards long term progress. You just gotta commit to trying something new this year. Be different in 2018!
Try Running New Races
Get outside your comfort zone and try new races, either simply to liven up your routine or to help become a stronger runner in the races you love. For instance, if you’re always on the roads learn about the benefits of trail running. Or, if you’re always doing half and full marathons hit the indoor track this winter and train to run a fast mile. That new speed/economy can help your future marathons more than you think.
Try A New Warm-Up Routine
Remember, the quality of your workout and race depends on the quality of your warm-up. And the body, especially as you age 😉 takes longer and longer to warm-up. Most seem either afraid, unwilling to prioritize or uninformed about the importance of quality running before their race. If you’ve always managed the same routine or overlooked this part of your training/racing then it’s time to try a new approach.
In general, the following components are necessary for an effective warm-up: elevating muscle temp, stretching, quality running and mental preparation. If you’re running shorter than a marathon make sure to spend time doing strides or more prolonged Threshold or Interval-intensity running. It’s important your body is prepared for the task ahead. Spending 2-3 minutes of Threshold running before a race can ensure your fuel sources are readily available and your physiological systems are prepared for high-intensity work.
Try Running Negative Splits
Most runners go out too fast and slow down progressively throughout a race. As we said, be different this year, and try the opposite. You’ll be amazed at what passing people the entire second half of a race can do to your confidence. Although running an even intensity is least costly on the body, starting slower and finishing stronger in the second half can be more rewarding.
This type of goal can also take pressure off any anxiety you have around setting a certain time goal. For instance, break your race up into three parts mentally and only focus on one part at a time. For the first part, set a speed limit that’s a bit slower than you would normally start. For the second part, settle into a steady/typical pace. For the last part, don’t set a pace goal just see how fast you can finish, or mentally just focus on how many people you can pass. Have fun with it.
Try Running Less And Adding More Cross Training
Oftentimes runners think more is better or the answer to improving is running more mileage. That’s not always the case, especially recreational runners who work full-time and may not recover quickly enough from the added stress. Further, most runners seem to choose the mileage they think they need to manage in order to improve versus the mileage they can effectively manage when factoring in outside stress (occupation, family, travel, etc.)
Consider running less and adding in more non-impact cross training to help supplement your plan. This type of activity can provide aerobic benefit with less risk of injury. It can also aid the recovery process between your Quality workouts leading to greater benefits when running. In our experience, we’ve seen many runners improve their marathon times when dropping down to 4-runs per week while training for triathlons. Keep in mind, they were training for triathlons so they’re doing A LOT of cross training to supplement the running.
Try Stretching More
With our busy lives we’re pressed for time so often stretching, strength and cross training are the first to get scrapped when training for a race. By active stretching everyday, even for just 10-15 minutes at a time, you can increase your rate of recovery, reduce tension and increase range of motion. Without this type of maintenance routine you may be training at 85% of your optimal potential and not even know it. Commit to stretching everyday and you’ll see a huge difference long term.