I can proudly boast that I have been able to consistently PR (beat my personal record) at every race I’ve participated in for an entire year! Well, the only exception to this was the Miami Marathon… but I blame the fact I was in coral “J” and had to run sideways around people more frequently than I ran forward towards the finish, lol (I believe there were 28K participants!)
Here’s what I feel has helped me achieve my goals little by little:
1. Train hard during your off season: Florida’s off season is the summer. Scorching heat and oppressive humidity make smarter people stay indoors or run on treadmills. Us crazy people, however, just wake up earlier and run outside anyway. And you know what? I think it gives us crazies an edge. If you can run 9 miles in 85 degree heat, then doing 13.1 in 50 degrees and a cool breeze will feel like a vacation, not a half marathon. Trust me. That’s exactly what was going through my head a few weeks ago.
2. Rest: So, you think that the more mileage you get in during the week, the better off you’ll be? WRONG. Give your body the chance to rest between runs. Running is harsh on your joints and can become a chore really quickly if you don’t start allowing yourself to “forget” how much it kinda sucks sometimes by giving yourself a day’s break in between.
3. Cross Train: Now, just ’cause you’re “resting” from running, doesn’t mean you are resting from cardio completely. Take up another sport like cycling or swimming to keep you busy in between runs. Weight training and fun classes at the gym also count!
4. Injury Prevention: My greatest fear is not being able to run. But even I skip these and later really REALLY regret it. Injury prevention/ strengthening exercises are imperative if you want to keep running long-term. There are some common ones you can find on the web but, honestly, each person’s injury prevention routine should be tailored to his or her frequent aches and pains. I usually have pulling in my piriformis and inner knees so I’ve learned to do things to strengthen the surrounding areas to prevent things from getting worse. DO THEM!!!
5. Eat Well: Believing that eating lots of carbs will give you more energy or that eating a very low-fat diet will make you a leaner, better runner is just a naive and misinformed way to go about feeding yourself. I’ve found that I need to be very attentive to my protein, carb and fiber balance for a good two weeks before a race… and good fats are your friend not your foe. You DO NOT want to have a “fiber attack” while running and you DEFINITELY do not want to suffer a day’s worth of serious G.I. issues after your race because your body has basically consumed itself due to being poorly nourished. Balance is key. Eat what you like, eat what you NEED and eat CLEAN and BALANCED.