8 ways to become a better runner
Whether you are just trying to make the jump from the couch to running, or from a 10k race to a marathon, improvement is surely a key motivator to stay running, and most people stay running because they want to see themselves become better runners.
At Stayrunning, we want to make sure that all runners, from newcomers to seasoned veterans, stay running and this starts with a providing runners with the intiative to improve, so that they are motivated to continue running and continue improving. Here is a list of 8 reasons to become a better runner, so that you can feel motivated to stay running.
#1. Consistency, consistency, consistency: Consistency is the key to mastering anything, and running is no exception. Running is a sport that relies heavily on constant maintenance of fitness; it's often said that for every week not run, it takes twice the amount of time to regain fitness, and this means that in order to become a better runner, you have to be running almost every day. It might be hard to string together consecutive days of running at first, but once you manage to get a consistent routine of running down, it'll become so ingrained in your daily schedule that it'll feel weirder to not run.
#2. Getting a running watch: If you see a runner on the sidewalk, there's a pretty good chance that they have a running watch on, and that they are checking it constantly during their run. Running watches are essential for runners and for becoming a better runner, as they can accurately track your speed and allow you to see how you are progressing. If you check your watch during your run and notice that you're running slower than expected, you'll be motivated to run faster and this subtle motivation can help you take big strides towards becoming a better runner. In terms of getting a running watch, Garmin and Fitbit are the big players in the running watch market right now, but to be honest, it doesn't matter what brand of running watch you have as long as the watch can record runs, and track key metrics such as distance run and running pace.
#3. HIIT harder paces: The only way to get better is to challenge yourself, and one of the best days to challenge yourself as a runner is to do HIIT (high intensity interval training). High intensity interval training is a form of training that involves alternating intervals of hard efforts with easy, jogging efforts, and there is research to support that HIIT helps improve cardiovascular fitness. HIIT is very versatile, you can structure your own intervals, and you can do it on the track or the trails or wherever you decide to run.
#4. Get good running shoes: Getting a solid pair of running shoes that feel comfortable to you is essential to becoming a better runner, as good-fitting running shoes can prevent a variety of injuries that can sideline your progress, and allow you to train harder and faster. You can usually find a pair of running shoes that fit you at your local running store, where the store employees will help you find a shoe that matches your stride and your foot size.
#5. Catch some Z's: The act of running is only half the battle when it comes to becoming more fit; running breaks down the muscles and primes them for growth, but you need a good night's sleep in order for the hormones to kick in and jumpstart the muscle growth. It can also be hard to push yourself to be the best runner that you can be when you are sleep deprived, so make sure to catch some Z's and get some quality sleep.
#6. Be social: One of the best parts of being a runner is interacting with the running community, and being social (whether it be through in-person outreach or social media presence) can help you become a better runner by connecting you with people that you can potentially train with and rely on for a sense of support. Joining a local running club is the perfect way to meet other runners in person, and some running apps (such as Strava) have options to add and follow other runners.
#7. Take rest days: Sometimes, when you're crushing your runs and feeling good all around, you'll feel tempted to skip the rest days and push through like a champ. While consistent running and running as much as can is important, taking rest days and allowing for your body to recovery is just as important. Taking rest days can help with injury prevention, and allowing your mind to reset over the rest day is a good way to combat burnout.
#8. Embrace the pain: POV: you're running up a steep hill, your legs are churning , your lungs are burning, and your entire body is screaming with pain. In this situation, you are faced with a choice: give up temporarily and stop, or push through the pain and get to the top of the hill. It can be hard to make the correct decision, especially when stopping and giving up seems so tempting, but pushing through the pain and getting to the top of the hill will make you feel accomplished and it will automatically make you a better runner in that you were able to overcome a mental and physical barrier to get to where you wanted to. As a runner, you'll face many of these "hills", and the only way to get better is to put your head down and learn to embrace the pain, instead of giving into it.