Whether the aim is to run 2km, enter your first half marathon, or you just want to keep an active lifestyle, here are seven ways to get across your finish line.
The emphasis is on the word “your.” Everyone defines success differently. To you it could be running a 5km without stopping, to someone else it could be to run three times a week for the whole of 2021. Whatever your running success, we’ve put together some tips to help you achieve it.
1. Be Consistent
Consistency is more important than perfection. Running regularly will improve your endurance, which means you will be able to run for longer periods of time. Being consistent will also teach your body to adapt to the physical stresses of running, which means less injuries. It also creates a ‘habit’ out of running, which means it is easier to stick to. No running program will ever go perfectly, you’ll miss days due to injury or illness or the weather or any number of reasons, and it won’t matter. If you follow around 80% of the program with the view of never giving up, your program will be successful! If you can, prioritise your long run as its always going to be the main foundation of your success.
2. Rope in a friend
Running with a friend or a group of people is a great motivator. Not only is it more fun, but you get to meet new like-minded people. And knowing you have to meet up with someone holds you accountable and can actually make you push yourself more. (There’s nothing quite like a healthy competition!) If you are in the Ku-ring-gai area, The Slow Coach runs a bi-weekly group session for anyone wanting to try running with a group of like-minded athletes who prioritise fitness, friendship and effort over pace. Click here for the details.
3. Follow a program
Following a structured running program keeps you focused and motivated. And it’s a sure-fire way to see results faster than if you were winging it on my own. A proper training program ramps up slowly and intentionally (in terms of distance and time on your feet) and schedules in rest and recovery days – both are vital to avoiding injury and improved performance.
4. Set a goal
A goal keeps your eyes on the prize and keeps you motivated. It’s important to make it a realistic goal though. Don’t set your heart on running a marathon in a month, when the longest you have run is 2km. Break your big goals into smaller, short-term goals to keep you on track. These smaller goals are the road map to your running success. And be sure to reward yourself after achieving each goal. Whether it’s a new piece of running gear, or a coffee date with a friend, you’ve earned it!
5. Don’t just run
Mix it up a little. Include strength workouts and cross-training (swimming or cycling) into your program. Not only does this keep things interesting, but activating and strengthening the muscles will help your running and will keep you from getting injured. And don’t forget the all-important rest days!
6. Get the right shoes for you
This should probably have been the first tip. Everybody and every body is unique – from running style and form, to distance and terrain, to foot type, to body shape and size, to simple personal preference. Fortunately, there are a myriad running shoes on the market offering variations and models to suit all of the above. Unfortunately, you might need to go through a few before you find the right ones for you. Speak to a running shoe specialist who can advise you. The folks at Shoe Guru in St Ives, Sydney are highly recommended. But do a search for a running shoe specialist in your area and go and chat to them before investing in a pair of shoes.
7. Be flexible with your goals and program
Have work or family commitments that mean you are unable to run? A niggling knee or just really exhausted one day? Take the day off. Listen to your body. But don’t let one day off from running derail your plan. Rather adjust your plan and keep forging forward. Didn’t make your goal this time? Change the goal posts, adjust your plan, and smash it next time. Be kind to yourself, be flexible with your training but steadfast in your determination.
8. Find what works for YOU
As mentioned previously, everybody is unique. What works for you might not work for the person next to you. Are you a morning or an evening person? Schedule your run accordingly. Do you prefer run / walking, or do you refuse to incorporate walk breaks? Find a program that suits your preference and style. You get the idea. This is where a coach comes in handy. You can chat to them about your likes, dislikes, preferences and goals and they can advise and adjust your training accordingly.
The Slow Coach’s Ground Running membership program is an affordable membership program that has been specifically designed with slow runners in mind. And for the first 10 to sign up, you can book a free one on one consultation with Andrea, an accredited recreational running coach. She’ll make sure that the advice you’re following is right for you, she’ll give you personalized tips on the best way forward and she’ll get you to your finish line in the long run!