So, you’ve got your feet wet, and you decided that you love running, or maybe you’re being held against your will to continue. For whatever reason, you’ve become a runner, and now there’s an entire population of people just like you who who will talk about broken toenails and fitness trackers.
Naturally, you’re human (at least I’m pretty sure you are), so you’re probably going to start comparing yourself to others. How far did they go? What’s their pace? What’s the elevation map of their run like? Can I run with them? Am I too slow? Am I too fast? (I haven’t encountered the latter yet)
Okay, so maybe it’s time to step up your game. It’s no longer a matter of “Look, I tried!” Now you want to be better. And that’s awesome! But how does that happen?
If you think I know the answer, you’re a cutie.
I’ve been hunting for advice from runners around me. How do I get faster/stronger/better? Well, here’s a whole basket of advice I’ve heard from other runners, and from research online:
How to be a better runner 101:
The 10% Rule
Try adding distance by 10% each week. Work up to it. If you’re doing 5 miles this week, try doing 5.5 miles next week, and so on and so forth.
Pace yourself, don’t go all out every day.
Mix up your Workout
Try to shoot for three runs a week minimum.
One day, work on a slow distance run
The next workout, do fragments of fast running, and walking/slow jogs.
Finally, do a tempo run (also known as a pace run). This is a medium distance, medium pace run.
Mixing it up can improve speed and durability. Be well rounded!
Consider Recovery Runs
Short slow runs on “off days” can make your body feel better. It gives you a chance to heal, and work off any tense feelings in your muscles. They’re not absolutely necessary, but every little bit counts.
This works for runners regardless of their current pace/pr distance.
Do five minutes of running, one minute of walking, and repeat. Determine your own speed through trial and error. Repeat till your heart’s content!
The Buddy System!
This is a great way to motivate yourself, because you’re using peer pressure in a positive manner. Of course you shouldn’t overexert yourself, but having friends around is a great way to push yourself, and have fun along the way.
This also makes running safer!
Find Training Programs
There is a myriad of training programs online. I haven’t verified any myself, but I’ve heard via word of mouth that Hal Higdon’s programs are quite good. You can even train for marathons!
Use a Fitness Tracker
There are hundreds, if not thousands of apps and notebooks out there made purely for running. Just seeing your progress can inspire you to reach further! Not to mention that you’ll feel awesome watching yourself improve over time.
I hesitate to say this, because obsessing over distance and “steps” can drain the fun from running and exercising, but in moderation, it’s nice to have my Garmin to track my pace and distance. This builds off of the ability to see where you’re at and where you can go. Of course you won’t get faster by wearing a watch. You’ll have to push yourself, but now, you can figure out how hard to push.
Never give up. You’re not getting any faster on the couch. It’s going to take some time, quite a bit of effort, and a whole lot of sweat to get better. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, but once you get there, it’s going to be awesome!
Keep it up, runner!