Making the Change 
to be a Better Runner
(part 1)
I want to improve my running. . .what are the steps?

Whether you have been a life long runner, an occasional runner or a brand new "let's jump in the race and run it" type of runner. . .you have now gotten your feet wet and you want more out of running.  You may want a better time, a more effective workout OR you just want to finish a run without being out of breath, it is all the same when it comes to making the "change" that you need.

Before we get into the steps, let me tell you that making the change to become a better runner will not be easy.  It is going to take you outside your comfort zone challenging not only your body but your mind.  As soon as the training seems like it's a little too much for you, that is when you have to decide if the changes you are making are right for you?

There are 8 steps that you can use to change your running for the better!  You just need to follow each step, believe in yourself and stay focused.  Over the past 25 years of being a runner, I have gone through a LOT of changes with my running and I always believe there are new and brighter ways to improve my  running, so my mind as become accustomed to making the change and getting the results that I want.

Step 1:  Take note on what you would like to improve.  When it comes to running there are a number of things that you may list.  For example. . .improving running posture, losing weight to run more effectively, increasing speed per mile or adding more milage to a workout.  No matter what you want, it has to be realistic and you need to lay out an effective plan.
Step 2: Take a snapshot of what type of runner you are now? Did you just run your first 5K run with no training and you are now hooked to running? Are you a consistent 10K runner and you want to become competitive or jump to a 1/2 marathon/marathon? You have run several 1/2 marathons/marathons but now you want to qualify for the Boston marathon and put some serious time into training? You have to ask yourself simple, realistic question in order to move to the next level.

Step 3:  Do something everyday to reach your goal as a runner.  Even though your love for running has increased, I actually do not suggest running EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Instead, you can incorporate strength exercises geared towards runners that you can do on the days you do not run.  There are also other sports that you can do to keep your body moving like tennis, swimming or cycling to help build a stronger base of endurance.  

Step 4:  Make the change EASY and GRADUAL.  I have met and talked to SO many runners who start running for good intentions but quickly stop running due to an early injury.  When increasing the intensity of a workout, whether it be milage or speed,  it has to be thought out.  Steps have to be taken to get your body ready for a new way of training.  You have to precondition the body before you go all out and start running more miles!

The hardest thing about change is the wait.  Trust me, I know.  After being sick for 4 weeks, I have to start from scratch and the wait is driving me NUTS but as an older runner and athlete . . . taking it slow is my best bet so I do NOT get injured!  Most of us want to see change right away but as soon as we get hurt, we don't understand why? 

It is always good to challenge yourself but you the goal is not to get injured and then you can't run at all! So take each workout one day at a time and train smart.  Stay tuned for PART 2 of Making the Change to a Better Runner!

Change is good and I will be Better!
(part 2)

Step 5:  Practice one new habit at a time:  Now that you have made the change easy and gradual, let's make sure you only work on one good habit at a time.  Why? If you have, let's say, 5 new habits you have to work on, it all seems cool and exciting at first but if you forget to do 1 or 2 of those new habits, you become frustrated with yourself and soon give up wondering "what's the point?".  Keep it simple and incorporate one good habit at time.

Step 6:  Do NOT wonder or worry if you need to do this or do that?  Again, KEEP IT SIMPLE.  Think about what you need to accomplish today and how you will do that.  Do not worry or wonder what you will be doing next week.  As the days move on, things change and so do circumstances.  Think and focus on the NOW.

Step 7:  Find good support from family and friends.  Making those who care about your aware of the changes that you are making and how you will need their help is crucial.  Just because you decide you want to be an avid runner, you do not have to find a whole new set of buddies to hang out with.  Try and incorporate your friends and family in your training program.  Whether they ride a bike along side of you  or actually run, this will keep you UP, motivated and accountable for some great changes coming your way!

Step 8:  Find a coach, trainer or running group to make you accountable:  Even though you are so ready to start a new workout regime, everything is great at first and you are sticking to your plan but as soon as things get rough and the tempo starts to change, you need someone to get you back on track and keeping you in the mindset to move forward and not backwards.  Nothing wrong with investing in yourself through others that can help!

Just as I stated above, make sure you take each step at a time.  Even this list will be a transition for some of you.  Change is good!  It is only bad if you allow it to be.  Stay focused, believe that you can do it and do NOT give up!

Stay healthy and happy runnings!

Posted on May 17, 2011 .