Do you love running? Are you the queen of the 5K and maybe even the 10K too? So what’s next – a half or full marathon tickle your fancy? After all, if you can run 5K or 10K successfully, what’s to say you can’t tackle a longer distance with the right training? Running your first ever long-distance race is a pretty incredible feeling. You train, you run and you realise that the adrenaline that comes with completing a longer distance is really something special.
And with so many exciting races on the running calendar this year, there’s a /lot/ for runners to look forward to, whatever their level. ‘Obstacle races are continuing to grow in popularity. They are appealing to a new audience as well as seasoned runners, because of their stop-start nature, and focus on fun and teamwork. Ultras are also really popular, as more marathon runners are realising that going “beyond” may well be possible,’ says running coach George Anderson (runningbygeorge.com).
If you’ve set your mind on going the distance, you have to be as mentally prepared as you are physically. We’ve put together our top solutions to common problems runners face to help you smash your goals.
Problem 1: Boredom
Training can be tough, but the right music will psyche you up for your run, giving you the motivation you need to slip on your trainers and head out the door. ‘Running the same route every time can get a bit tedious. If you get bored when you’re on a long run, plug yourself into an upbeat playlist, run with a friend, or just pick a brand new route each time,’ suggests George.
Problem 2: Lack of motivation
Variety is the spice of life, so if you’re running the same training course or wearing the same gear each session no wonder you’re not excited to run! Regularly varying your routes for a change of scenery and splashing out on new gear will inspire you to get outside. ‘Having your /why/ firmly at the front of your mind when you are training for a particular event can also keep your motivation high. In between races, try running without a watch. “Freedom Runs” are a great way to reconnect with your running and remind you of the reason you fell in love with the sport in the first place,’ says George.
Problem 3: Injury niggles
From shin splints to knee pain, injuries are often part and parcel of a runner’s life, but strengthening your weak spots can work as an effective preventative measure. ‘Injuries are the bane of the runner’s life. Avoid unnecessary niggles by investing in a regular strength and conditioning routine. Single leg squats, spine mobilisers and hip bridges will all help bulletproof your body,’ George says.
Problem 4: Bad weather
While in Britain we’re all used to wind, rain and sun, the unpredictable weather can be a massive hurdle for runners. When the weather isn’t playing ball it can be tempting to skip a training session, but keeping your end goal in mind will help you to maintain focus. ‘A bit of wet and cold shouldn’t mean a cancelled session, but if the weather isn’t up to scratch, take your workout indoors. While treadmills aren’t the best way to train for a race, they can be extremely handy when you can’t get out onto the roads because of miserable weather conditions,’ says George.
Problem 5: Too tired
Training is tiring. Fact. And when your body can’t handle another training session you’re at a higher risk of injury. If you haven’t slept, feel light-headed and weak, it’s your brain’s way of communicating that your body is not ready for a hardcore workout that day. But don’t beat yourself up over it – just remember that allowing your body adequate rest will improve your overall performance in the long run.
Problem 6: No time
With our increasingly busy lifestyles, it’s not always easy to fit in those all-important training sessions. Put exercise high up on your priority list and block out time in your diary at the beginning of the week so that you schedule other events around your training rather than the other way round – and don’t worry if you don’t have time to run every single day. ‘Training for a 10K, half or full marathon immediately conjures up ideas of long hours spent trudging the roads several times a week. This can be enough to put some runners off before they even start, but if you focus on quality rather than quantity, including just three runs a week, you will still get great results. This makes it a much more practical programme, and also reduces the chances of over-training and injuries,’ explains George.
Problem 7: Performance plateau
Can’t seem to go that extra mile or shave off seconds from your current PB? Consistency and commitment is key to powering up your performance. And making sure you continually push yourself hard will help you take your running game to the next level. ‘Training your body through threshold workouts can be really effective,’ says George. ‘Holding your pace at a point where the intensity becomes “comfortably uncomfortable” for increasingly longer periods of time through a programme can have an incredible impact on your fitness. Your body becomes better adapted to dealing with lactic acid, making faster running feel easier,’ he adds.
5 ways to amp up running success
Try George’s expert tricks to better your run
1 Follow a programme
If you have a race coming up, make sure you have a structured programme to follow with specific weekly targets to reach.
2 Be organised
Make an appointment with yourself for your training. Trying to fit it in isn’t likely to be a good long-term strategy, but if it’s there in the diary, it’ll happen.
3 Mix up your training
Running at the same pace all the time will get you /some/ results, but you’ll never reach your full potential. Mix in intervals, hills and threshold runs for the best results.
4 Strength and conditioning
It’s the bit that most runners ignore – until they get injured. Not only does strength training make you a stronger, faster runner, it reduces the number of runs you have to skip because you’re out of action with avoidable injuries.
5 Connect with other runners
Running may be an individual sport, but there’s lots to be gained from connecting with others. Sharing stories, asking for advice and finding motivation are all good reasons for joining a coaching group.
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