Becoming a lifelong runner, and loving it, is a relatively simple process. But there a few compulsory components. It’s easy to overlook some of them, even if you have been running for years.
Many of us are not into the numbers game. You might not even like to wear a watch when you run. But you can only manage what you measure. You will not progress as fast as possible to your running potential without taking note of what you do in some way. Training requires an objective record of your progress.
Get yourself at least a watch and a notebook.
How well you can run is about the quality of every step that you take. Proper running form is required to provide consistency. It will reduce the risk of injury and increase your speed and endurance. It will radically improve your performance and enjoyment. It doesn’t come naturally to a western domesticated body. It has to be learned.
Get a technique lesson.
Running well requires flexibility and mobility across your whole body. Repetitive running movements will reduce your flexibility if not properly balanced with warm-ups and stretching. Combine that with the modern western tendency to hunch ourselves up in sitting contraptions and you have a recipe for problems.
Get yourself a good warm-up routine and effective stretching habits before you take on any significant running. The other distressingly popular option is to learn them from the unnecessary physical challenges you will experience while this is overlooked. I suggest getting yourself a copy of the Ten Minute Mobility Guide as a good place to start.
Race car drivers don’t fill up their cars with ageing diesel from a rusty barrel and expect to win. It’s tempting to think that a conscious diet is only for serious competitors. Worse still, you might try to convince yourself that you don’t have to think about what you eat because you run. I stress life long running - you are much more likely to fail in the long run if you eat a load of crap.
Just Eat Real Food. That means eating things that are as close as possible to the condition they were in when they grew in or on the ground.
A routine is only useful if it includes all the variations necessary to improve your running. That means running slow, running fast, running tired, running long, cross training, and training your mind. It also means getting adequate rest at the right times. All that has to be done consistently in the right sequences. And you will want it to match up with your aspirations and the events you want to take part in. That’s why you need a training plan that covers the weeks and months ahead.
Get a running professional to work up a plan for you. Unless you are remarkably self-disciplined you will also need them to help you stick to it and vary it as required.
Train for terrain
Unless you want to stick to the roads you are going to need to get familiar with reading the landscape and trails. You will also need to know how to stay safe when out in the wild on your own. Lifelong running can be cut short by a simple injury far from home.
Do a trail running workshop. Ask an experienced off-road coach to work with you on the specific techniques. Take the chance at off road events to watch what more experienced runners do. Make friends and ask questions.
This seems like a lot to get right. But every piece will enhance your enjoyment of your running and your life in general. Make sure it does, and that you have the patience not to push yourself too hard and fast while you reap the benefits. One of the best ways to keep running is to keep interested in it. That means using it as a tool to invigorate your everyday life.
Add in a touch of adventure now and then. Try events outside of your norm or area. Challenge yourself and your friends. Your running can take you places you never thought you would reach!