This applies to everyone – those new to running, your everyday runner, competitive Type A personalities that balance career, family and hobbies along with their running goals and even accomplished runners.
1. Find Your Rhythm
Successful running is about finding the right balance between training and recovery.
Training for a race can be stressful at times.
Physically, it depletes your body’s energy stores, it stresses your muscles, ligaments, tendons and even your bones.
Race preparation breaks your body down.
Too much training and you will become fatigued, then later experience pain and finally injury if you push too far.
With rest and recovery, your body responds to the stressors of your training and rebuilds stronger than before.
You will often hear me say “always listen to your body.”
Aside from listening to warning signs that you may be on the verge of injury, finding your rhythm is a large part of this statement.
Aim to find the right mix of training and rest where your body achieves a balance.
This is something that can only be accomplished over time as each runner is unique.
You will know you are on the right track when you start having a string of days of positive workouts, one after the next.
Before too long, this string of positive workouts turns into weeks of successful training.
Each week, set up your training from the outset to be positive.
I teach runners to dominate every Monday, as it sets the tone for your week.
If Monday is a rest day on your training schedule following a Sunday long run, dominate it mentally or consider Sunday the start to your training week.
This can at times be challenging due to the unpredictable nature of other life events such as work and family, but if you can establish a training routine where nearly every one of your workouts (and subsequent races) is positive you will be successful as a runner and even provide a balance for life events themselves!
If you find that you are frequently having poor performance in your running or are often battling injury then your training stress is too great and you are not valuing the benefit of recovery.
Realize that rest is not only ok, it is an essential part of any training program.
Try adding more recovery time in and work on finding your training rhythm.
I can tell when a runner has turned the corner in achieving their goals when they value a rest day as much as a speed workout.
2. Be Consistent
Once you find your rhythm in training you can focus on being consistent.
To reach your full potential as a runner you need to have consistent training.
This means that day after day, week after week, month after month and even year after year you are consistently working on improving.
Several months of solid workouts is more beneficial than a few weeks of epic workouts leaving you on the verge of being injured or overtrained.
Being consistent means minimizing the risk of injuries, illness and avoid overtraining that can sideline you.
Always approach your training with a long term approach and think about how a given activity fits in and impacts the big picture.
3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Every runner experiences a bad run from time to time.
You could have long streaks of great workouts, steady progress and out of nowhere comes a day where you feel you can’t run more than a few miles. Your legs are heavy. Each step is a struggle.
You begin to question your training. Days like these often seem to occur just before a big race causing doubt and panic. Don’t be rattled.
Realize that days like these are going to happen.
It happens to new runners, experienced runners and elite runners.
No one is immune.
The cause of the bad day is often unknown, and quite frankly it does not matter.
Bad days are just a bump in the road. They are something you just have to live with and accept as a runner.
Successful runners accept this and when a bad day happens they chalk it up to this knowledge. They shake it off and instead of dwelling on what happened, they look forward to the next workout.
Remember that no one single workout will determine the outcome on race day. It is the sum of all the effort and training that will come through, not the one bad day. Mentally it may feel otherwise, but rise above it.
This leads to the next trait of successful runners.
4. Just Keep Going
This means just keep on going even when things don’t go to plan or when one bad workout out of no where after a string of good ones occurs.
If you tend to be a stubborn person this can work to your advantage.
Regardless of what happens just keep putting one foot in front of the other and trust your training.
By simply showing up, giving your best and not getting discouraged at the first sign of a bad day the finish line will eventually come and your performance will surprise you!
5. Build Your Confidence
This is perhaps the most important trait for success in a runner.
Confidence that you trained the best you could. You trust your training. You are not only physically prepared for your event, but mentally you know you are going to get out and crush it.
While training for your race there will be one or two types of workouts that may become your favorites.
They are workouts that you nail and feel great afterwards.
Occasionally they may even result in the type of run that when you finish it makes you begin to think about what’s possible and to push the envelope of what you previously thought was possible in your running.
As you approach your race day, add in one or two of these workouts where they make sense to boost your confidence.
Don’t be a slave to the training plan. Part of having confidence is knowing when you can modify it for the betterment of your overall goal.
Success breeds success. Positive workouts lead to consistently increasing motivation which will result in a better result on race day!