Are you growing as a runner, moving closer toward your goals?
Almost everyone thinks they are. But to truly reach your potential, there are certain things about your training you should understand.
When you know as much as possible about your past, current, and future running you can dramatically improve your training. Make sure you know the answers to these questions!
Why are you running?
There are a lot of reasons for lacing up your shoes and heading out the door every day. Figure out why exactly you run so you can get the most out of your training. After all, running to get faster is different than running to get cut.
Which goal below do you most identify with?
- general fitness
- lose weight
- get ripped!
- run faster
How many miles have you run per month in the last 3 months? How does that compare with what you averaged last year?
What you did in the last few months helps determine what you can do this month and next month. And what you do next month helps you build on what you can do next year. Picking up on the pattern here?
Running is cumulative, so make sure you’re improving year to year. Not necessarily more and more, but if you’re a new or low-mileage runner, you should be trying to run a little more every year.
What injuries are you susceptible to?
Know what injury (or, gasp, injuries) you’re prone to get and take consistent steps to prevent it.
ITBS? Try the ITB Rehab Routine.
Plantar Fasciitis? Be aggressive with your PF prevention.
In general, you should be implementing a well-rounded training program that includes a lot of variety to help you prevent injuries.
When do you need new running shoes?
Stay on a consistent buying schedule – or keep track of the mileage on your shoes and buy a new pair when they hit 300-500 miles.
Once you find a pair of shoes that works for you, you’ll know exactly when they start to break down. For me, I run in ASICS Speedstars and Adidas Adizero shoes so I know them well. Minimalist shoes will tend to wear down sooner than other types of trainers.
Who is in your running support network?
You need other runners for encouragement, motivation, and to bounce ideas off of. No runner is an island – build your running board of directors to help you reach your goals.
If finding friends or family to support your running sounds daunting (what, your friends don’t care about your negative splits in your tempo workout?), then hang out where other runners are. Sign up for dailymile, join the community at Nerd Fitness, or hang out at No Meat Athlete.
What training phase are you in right now (and when does it end?)
If you don’t know where you are in your training, you won’t know where you end up. I can give you a hint: probably injured or burnt out. Make sure you have phases to your training so you’re working on the right things, at the right times.
What are the top three “little things” that you do to prevent injury?
Core work, minimalism or barefoot running, gym exercises, dynamic stretching, foam rolling – pick your medicine!
I recommend all of them in moderation. Even though my wife calls me a “core whore” I rarely spend more than 10-15 minutes a day on body weight strength exercises. Variety with your “extras” is key.
How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
Whether you run with a group, watch inspirational races on YouTube, or constantly achieve little wins it’s vital that you stay motivated during long training periods or when the weather is tough.
Part of staying motivated is having a good support network (see above) so don’t be shy about reaching out to other runners. We stick together!
When is your next race?
If racing is your goal, make sure you know how you’re getting there! Get a custom plan or write your own – either way, have a roadmap to your next race.
If not, run a benchmark workout to gauge your fitness. A time trial on the track or a hard interval workout can help.
How are you improving on your past training in order to get faster?
First, keep track of your training with an online or hard copy running log. Then you’ll be able to compare what you’re doing now with what you’ve done in the past.
Working with a coach may sound like something only elite or highly competitive runners do, but more and more average runners are taking advantage of the benefits of personalized coaching. And if you ever do work with a coach, you’ll need to keep a training log so he knows what you’ve done and should be doing in the future.
How have you invested in your knowledge of the sport?
If you’re not motivated to run your best, I don’t know how else I can help. Use these questions to improve on your own training and run your best race in the next month or two (if you do, email me and let me know!).
To your running success,