- Follow a training plan: If you’re training for a race, follow a training plan and build in 2 extra weeks into the schedule to allow for travel, busy weeks, etc. I have always used Hal Higdon’s training schedules because it lets you determine what level you are at (novice, intermediate, advanced) and has plans for 5Ks up to marathons.
- Don’t increase your mileage too fast or you’ll get burnt out, or worse, injured.
- Invest in a good pair of new running shoes.
- Listen to your body but also push yourself. I hurt my knee freshman year of college in a pilates class and ever since have had to be careful. During training, I listen to my body and stop if I feel pain. After long runs (8+ miles) I’ll ice my knee to keep any inflammation down. On good days, I set a goal – like to run up a huge hill without stopping – and push myself to keep going despite fatigued muscles and a pumping heart. Test your limits but also know them.
- Spend time customizing a playlist with your favorite, upbeat songs.
- Strength training is important, especially for your core and legs. It’ll make you stronger and be able to run faster and longer.
- Stretching is critical. One day a week I practice yoga or pilates, and I notice a big difference in letting my muscles recover while strengthening in a new way.
- Take one day off per week from exercising… and approach this day just as seriously as your training days. Although it’s tempting to want to run or exercise every day, especially when you’re in the momentum and excitement of training for a race, you need to let your body rest or you’ll burn out.
Most importantly, be thankful for the opportunity to run and enjoy the outdoors, the scenery around you, your neighborhood, and the fresh air. You won’t always have good running days, and sometimes you’ll have to stop and walk up that big hill. But if you’re grateful for the ability to get outside and push yourself a few days a week, then the results will follow.
|John and I, with our friend Jessica, after a Chick-fil-A 5K race this fall|