We are a little over a month into a year that, thus far, hasn’t been too bad for runners. Temperatures have been relative mild and snowfall has been minimal.
As you embark on your training for this calendar year, I would like to offer seven tips for ’17 that should make your running more productive and enjoyable
1. WRITE IT DOWN- I believe it is essential to keep an accurate log of your workouts. I've done so for over forty years. Write your workouts in a log/date book, on your computer, or on a calendar. Write a Russian novel, or keep it brief. However you choose to do it, writing it down allows you to study what works and what doesn't work for you, why you ran great or poorly, and any changes in workouts that may have caused you injury.
2. SPEED-We all love to get out there to take in the scenery, listen to music, or enjoy a workout with friends. But, once a week, on weeks when you're not racing, go to your local track or stay on the road, and run something fast. Intervals or tempo runs are fine, but if you want to race faster, speed work is a must.
3. GO LONG-Whether you are planning to run a 5K or a marathon, a weekly long run is essential. If you're running a 5K, your long run may be 6-8 miles; whereas for a marathon it could be 20 miles. (but not every week) Now here's the key. LSD, long, slow distance, is meaningless. Make your long runs count. If you are aiming to run a race at an 8:00 pace, run your long runs at an 8:30-8:45 pace. Long, slow distance makes long, slow runners.
4. PUMP IT UP-Running is great exercise from the waist down. Too many runners, however, neglect their upper bodies. Two or three times a week, design a 20-30 minute upper body lifting regimen that features low weight and high repetitions. Build strength, not bulk, so when your legs tire, your upper body can carry the day.
5. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY-Take a rest day if you feel a specific pain rather than soreness. Resting when the pain or illness occurs will keep you from missing much more time if the condition worsens.
6. SAVE YOUR MONEY-Stop racing so much!! Your body needs time to heal. If your goal is to run more races than anyone else, by all means, race every weekend. But if you like EARNING your hardware, by winning age group awards or more, then target and select your races and make them count. Quality, not quantity goes the distance.
7. ENJOY-Run a beer race, crawl under the barbed wire, dress in a tutu, do a zombie run. Keep it fun. Does this contradict the aforementioned Rule #6? Not at all. Select your races, but keep your running fun. Go to big races, but support small races. Both in training and racing, keep it fun, and you will enjoy this sport for a long, long time.
Have a happy and healthy 2017.