So you decided to become a runner, a top runner at that…Get ready to put in the grueling time and effort required, in order to reach the top of your field. Don’t forget those days you don’t feel like putting your running shoes on, after a long day at work or school…It’s time to develop a different mindset. Your body is a complex bad-ass machine that wants to work.
So how should you train?
Here are 7 Tips to Become a “Top Runner”
SET GOALS AND DONT MAKE EXCUSES
It’s pretty clear that starting anything without a clear goal, will lead to burnout somewhere along the process of achievement. Therefore, having a fixed Goal is mandatory!
Running is not an easy sport, all beginners pretty much hate it during the initial stages of training, and as such, there is a need to set a Goal. The goals you set need to be realistic and attainable. When making goals, set both short-term & long-term. Thinking of short-term goals as steps toward your, NUMBER 1 MOTIVATOR.
When you achieve these goals , it will lead to personal satisfaction and also encourage you to set more Goals for the future.
Accomplishment will Give you confidence and vitality like no drug.
START OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
Not litereally, but starting anything off with the correct training information is absolutely necessary! Before you start your training routine, you need to study the right technique, the right form, and the right pace.
There are many aspiring runners who have started off on the wrong foot and inflicted injuries, by not doing there homework. A little work on technique & form goes a long way and makes runs much easier and enjoyable.
Examples of good techniques are:
- Avoid injury by taking short quick strides (not choppy). Long strides often lead to injury.
- Loosening up your shoulders to increase thrust momentum & bloodflow.
- Landing evenly on the ball of your foot, instead of landing on your heels which will lead to heel pain and overuse injury.
- Controlled breathing techniques, in your nose and out your mouth. Maximizing O2 efficiency.
A crucial pre/post process in the prevention of injury, is warming up the muscles/joints. Warm-ups include Stretching, Light Jogging, Yoga and Short Interval Drills.
Best Warmup Exercises & Practices:
- Walking in a slow pace for five to ten minutes is very effective, as it takes the various muscles and joints through a wide range of motions, very identical to the effects of running on the body. This will also increase the circulation of blood to all parts of the body (nutrient delivery during/after exercise).
- Stretching- Stretches are very crucial for a runner, as it prevents injury. Static stretching, where you stretch in a fixed position is now discouraged; however dynamic stretching is the go-to for stretching.
Some dynamic stretches include:
Lunges, Jumping Jacks, Forward Jacks, and Squats with Walkouts, Jumping Rope, and Butt Kicks etc. All these Dynamic Stretches target a wide range of specific muscle groups, which will lead to fewer chances of injury.
FOLLOW A PLAN OR PROGRAM
It is a well-established fact that some days you are going to feel great, other days not so much. So there is a need to follow a plan or adopt a program to keep you moving no matter what.
Elite runners know this and they plan out days, adjusting workouts accordingly. Some athletes shorten their training interval, while some keep the interval time the same but tone down the intensity of their training on recovery days.
If you are not the type of person who can chalk out your training plan, there are many successful programs designed by exercise scientist.
Some of the best Running programs available:
- Hal Higdon’s Training Program.
- Nike+ Run Club
- 3.Boston Marathon Training Plan
- 4.The Run S.M.A.R.T Project
However, it should also be taken into consideration that these training programs are aimed at the general audience, and do not serve a specific person as every runner is different. There is no substitute for a personal trainer or coach.
5. VARIATION AND ALTERNATION ARE KEY
Sticking to a single training method or routine will make your workouts boring and your training sessions will become TORTURE
Adding variation to your training sessions is crucial, and it will help you to progress and also keep your mind engaged and excited.
Cross training can also help you to enhance your running skills. Focusing on muscular strength workouts such as; Lifting weights, Squats, Planks, Calisthenics, will give more core strength (stability), more power in your legs (torque), and will increase your upper body strength for propulsion to become a stronger runner.
Therefore it is no secret that most elite runners can be seen lifting weights, doing gymnastics and other hosts of athletic activities other than running.
EAT CLEAN, DRINK & REPEAT
What you put into your body will affect how well you perform as a runner. As an athlete, your body is your temple and as such it is your topmost priority to keep your body in its peak condition.
HYDRATION is probably the most important factor for a runner. You lose a lot of fluids during your runs, and you have to replenish the lost fluids. Drinking 8 to 16 ounces of fluids one to two hours before a run or training session is crucial. Water and Coconut Water is considered the best fluids for runners, however, some may have their own favourite energy drinks. Some of the best beverages for runners other than the aforementioned are as follows, Tea or Coffee, Chocolate milk, Tart cherry juice or beet juice and Maple water.
Eating Clean includes adding 55-65% of QUALITY Carbohydrates into your diet, which includes grains like quinoa, millet, kamut, oats, brown rice and rye bread.
A Protein serving at every meal is necessary to build and replenish muscle tissues and to stabilize blood sugar. Protein foods include nuts, seeds, and legumes for protein, fiber, and energy. Eggs and whole grain products also fit the bill for protein foods.
When it comes to Fats, most of the general populace only tends to lack omega-3 fats which can be sourced from fish, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts. Fiber should also be made a staple however in minimal quantity.
To further protect your immune system which is of utmost importance in order to prevent you from getting sick, include foods rich in vitamins A, C, and E such as citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, onions, mushrooms, berries, green tea etc.
Foods and drinks to avoid are processed foods, artificial flavoured foods and drinks, and alcohol.
REST, RECOVER AND REPEAT
Resting and recovering is as important as running
It’s easy to assume that going out every day and pushing the pace may seem good, but research suggests that this is counterproductive. Leading you to burn out quicker, and deplete overall energy for the next effort (may lead to muscle overuse injury).
Therefore, it is equally important to respect the rest day as much as one respects the work day. Rest and Recovery helps the muscle tissues to repair themselves and also the body as a whole to recalibrate itself and get ready for the next session.
The Final step is to repeat all of the above, staying consistent is key! Be consistent in your training, be consistent in your diet and be consistent in your recovery, so that you can perform at peak levels.