Born To Run: 9 Tips to Fulfill Your Destiny
Biased as I may be, I believe everyone has the capacity to run. There’s no doubt the benefits reaped from regular exercise are plentiful. That includes sports, lifting at the gym, and running. I am a fan of all, yet running always seems to get the short end of the stick.
Common phrases I hear are, “It’s too hard”, “There’s no way in hell I can run that long”, “Runners are crazy”, “It’s too repetitive and boring.” Though I could argue that lifting the same dumbbell is repetitive, I am not here to argue one over the other. In fact, lifting is an important part of the regimen of any professional runner. What I AM here for is to give some tips for those who tried running and gave up, or those thinking about giving it a chance. Here’s my case for why you should run if you’re interested.
Running thousands of steps on the same roads day after day can be a bore, but here’s what seasoned and successful runners do when facing a rut. These are some tips to remember when facing discouragement during training.
1. Change Your View
“I love running in new areas and try to ‘get lost’ at least a few times a month” is one thing seasoned runners advise. Part of the reason even I find it hard to run sometimes is that I am tired of the same path, which often translates for many as bore of running rather than the scenery.
One trick is to go out the door with no set schedule, plan or route and just pick an amount of time and run. This strategy has allowed me to discover cool paths, parks, neighborhoods, restaurants, shortcuts and routes that I would never have noticed.
Finding new trails or even old ones I haven’t been on in a while can be a big boost. And trails in general can get me out of a rut much quicker than the road because of the scenery and the reduction of impact on the legs making the journey that much more enjoyable.
Run somewhere new at least once every week.
2. Freshen Up Your Goals
Running goals should be a part of every runner’s training. They provide motivation to keep putting one foot in front of the other. But, running goals can get stale — if you let them. Have you had the same running goals for the last five years?
Take the time to sit down and write out weekly, monthly and yearly goals. Go with goals that will challenge you yet be reachable. Running for the sake of running will kill your motivation faster than you can say “I’ll be back in a flash”. Something as simple as I want to be able to run for X amount of minutes will do the trick.
Scrap your running goals and start fresh. Choose a time to hit or work your way up to a mileage you want to achieve.
3. Find A Partner
Like the infamous gym buddy, a running partner can help keep you accountable. This quick fix isn’t for everyone, just as some prefer to lift alone. Though, there is no arguing that for many, this trick is the solution for sticking to your training. Run with a friend and it will seem like you ran for half the time. Having a running partner can renew your zeal to run and gives you someone to talk shop with.
Having a training partner is one of the greatest benefits of being a runner that athletes relish. Just look at the rise of run clubs in recent years: Brooks Beasts, Bowerman Track Club, Nike Oregon Project, Oregon Track Club Elite, HOKA NAZ Elite, Big Bear Track Club, etc.
Find a friend who shares your passion for running and set a date and time in stone for a weekly run.
4. Focus On A Race
Some might only run for the benefits or as part of their cardio. Others running is all they do. In either case it’s easy to get caught up trying to run all kinds of races or none at all. Again, if you’re running sporadically and jumping into any race that comes up, not only will you not perform your best, but could potentially injure yourself.
Successful racers have found they need to choose an “A Race.” This race will be your most important race and run of the year. Having an ultimate race will motivate you to train seriously. Choose something outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to see if it is within reach.
Choose a race distance you have never focused on, and dedicate and train specifically for this race.
Technology is helping runners run stronger, longer and smarter. GPS devices, such as the ones made by Garmin, are fun and provide great insights into your training. Also, although not for everyone, heart-rate monitors can add a whole new aspect to your training.
The Mio heart rate monitor doesn’t have a chest strap so it doesn’t bother you like models that come with one.
Another wise use of technology is listening to podcasts, audiobooks or music.
Too much technology can be a bad thing. Get too fixated on it and you will forget why you actually run. This is why every now and then you should leave the tech at home and run free.
Music serves as a motivator for many who go out for runs. I personally never run with headphones as I argue that the beats of the music than lead to an irregular cadence. When unplugged you are with your thoughts rather than with the lyrics and are able to focus on your breathing(Key!!!) and cadence leading to efficiency meaning you will feel great and more likely to run.
Leave the house with nothing but your shorts, shoes and shirt.
7. Go Faster
Have you tried a victim run? This type of run consists of picking someone on the trail or road and racing them. I usually only recommend this for your hard long-runs rather than your regularly paced runs. I call this the gamification of running.
The best thing is that they don’t even know it is a race, but it is. You can also just pick objects or cars or bikes.
Running at the same pace mile after mile is a bore for the speed demons out there. Speed is fun. Go to your local trail and find some single tracks or hills to bomb down.
Set aside one day a week to run faster. Make sure it aligns with your training plan.
8. Go Out And Play
Go to any schoolyard during recess and you will see kids doing what comes naturally to them: running. And they are doing it because it is fun. They couldn’t care less about mileage, pace or calories burned.
When running becomes all about ‘work’ in the form of training, it loses some of the appeal it first had. I first started running after I felt the adrenaline running through my veins and the burn in my chest and enjoying it, much like the feeling pro bodybuilders get after a pump. Once competitive races started to feel like a job however, practice seemed to drag on forever.
Try a fartlek run. Fartleks consist of 10–15 second sprints at 80–90% max intensity at the top of every minute for 20–30 minutes. When you’re not sprinting you should be breathing easily through your nose and out through your mouth to keep the activity aerobic.
Bring a frisbee. Seasoned runners cringe when they hear the word “fartlek”. Avoid this feeling by tossing a frisbee among partners during the 20–30 minutes.
9. Give Back
Check out Run For Charity and pick your cause.
I don’t follow all of these tips and you don’t have to either. Pick the ones that are best for you. The important thing is that you stick to it and what was once a painful experience or drag will become a regular habit. Your legs and hips were built in a way such that your body mechanics allow you to travel long distances, so keep at it. After all, you were born to run.
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