Runners are some of the most disciplined athletes I know. For some, it doesn’t matter if it’s too hot or too icy to run, if it’s on the schedule-- they just get out there and run!
I’ve been in the field of coaching runners for over 12 years now...but I’ve been analyzing these special creatures for over 20 years. Nowadays, you’ll find endless programs and coaching methods online...it’s quite overwhelming. Yet, there are certain behaviors that every successful runner share in common, and by adapting them into your own regimen, you too can build a solid foundation to take your running (and nutrition) to the next level.
1.) Taking Back Control
Most injuries happen because we simply don’t listen to our own bodies. For some people, there is a borderline obsession with the sport and that can get you in trouble. Successful runners know when to push it and also when to pull back. They know when they need to take 1 week off versus just 1 day...and that’s often the difference between a major injury versus a minor tweek.
Become your own expert. Take notice on how YOUR body works. There are endless “running experts” and running programs, but at the end of the day, you know your body best and you have the power to pull back and take it easy, instead of tackling a 12 mile run on a bum knee.
It’s ok to walk when you need to. Think with your brain and not your ego.
If you’re following a training schedule, don’t be afraid to modify if needed. This is especially important if training with a group. After all ---do you expect everyone to be feeling perfect for every run? Most people won’t mention anything, and the ones that do...will run anyway. Be smart, listen to your body and take the precautions if needed. If you get injured and need to take time off or maybe even skip a race.. that’s ok. There are others. Remember that every struggle and heartache carries a seed of an equal or greater benefit. Stay Strong.
You owe it to yourself to learn about the sport and most importantly how it affects you individually. Everybody reacts differently to food, running and even doing strength workouts.
2.) Knowing the costs
This one is more about nutrition. If you do a long run that burns 1000 calories (about 10 miles), don’t justify that for a reason to uptake your calories by 3000 for the next couple days.
I don’t believe in a perfect diet, but I do believe in supplying the body with nutrient dense foods 80% of the time. This way your GI tract can have the nutrients necessary for digestion and to keep things moving along ---including your junk foods. If you don’t supply the body with the appropriate nutrients, it actually strips away important vitamins, minerals, and enzymes from the body in order to help with digestion. This often leads people to feeling lethargic and low energy.
On days off, bring down your food intake, especially your starches. On your intense training days, increase your calorie intake appropriately. If losing some fat is your goal, I recommend adding strength training to build lean muscle. In addition, drop your caloric needs from your diet by no more than 250 calories daily. You can also drop another 250 calories from your exercise daily for a total deficit of 500 calories. This means that if your body needs 2000 calories daily and you did a 10 mile run (about 1000 calories) then you’re good to eat 2500 calories---3000 minus 250 deficit from diet and 250 from the run. Make 80% of those calories as nutrient dense as possible...and the only way that is going to happen is by planning! So do it the day before.
Any more than 250 calorie deficit from your diet can often lead to hormonal imbalance which will affect you the following days...both in your performance and eating habits (you’ll get hungrier).
Remember the 3 Golden Rules to Nutrition:
3.) Implementing Habits
Every successful runner has their daily habits. This is not just regarding their running. They also set aside time to:
Do at least a couple minutes of abs/core training and/or foam rolling.
They focus on drinking a certain amount of water daily. You should aim for ½ of your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 200 lbs, you should be drinking 100 ounces.. which is about 12.5 cups of water.
They implement strength training and cross training into their weekly regimen. A 20-30 minute full body workout one to two times per week is all you need to strengthen other muscles in order to help you be a stronger runner.
They are grateful for their ability to run. They don’t take any run for granted. Every run is special and successful runners acknowledge that every time they hit the road.
Believe in yourself. Remember that belief turns into thoughts/feelings which dictate how you speak (to others and more importantly to yourself), which translates to the actions you’ll take in your life. Your actions turn into habits.
Studies show it takes about 21 days to create a new habit. Don’t give up.
Plant the seed of belief and ask yourself “What do I really want” “How can I get there?” Then tell yourself “I’m confident in my abilities and I’m going to make this happen. There may be obstacles in the way, but I’ll handle them as they come. After all every struggle carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
And yes! You can use this approach for much more than just your running ;)
What are your habits? Get started today.
Establish these 3 behavioral changes as your foundation and you’ll be able to tackle any struggle you may be experiencing with your training, races, nutrition, strength training or any other challenge that comes your way.
Keep training smart!
Committed to your health,
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