Want to take your running to the next level? Here are some things you can do to help motivate yourself:
Get Up Earlier
There are few things better than running in the early morning, when there is no one to crowd the streets or park with you. You can see the sun rise, enjoy the cool morning air, and start your day off right. Plus, if you get in a morning run, you won’t have to try to fit in your workout later in the day, and you feel AMAZING all morning long thanks to the runner’s high.
Build Strength Too
One mistake that many runners make is ONLY running. That can lead to serious damage to the joints, as the muscles of your legs, feet, back, and upper body may not be able to handle the stress. How can you prepare your body for the intensity of your run? By training ALL of the muscles in your body, not just your legs! Spend time at the gym every day, working on one muscle group per day. Your main focus may be on cardio, but you can’t neglect your strength training.
Pound Those Veggies
Want to have the nutrients your body needs to hit that run hard? Sure, protein and complex carbs will be important, but it’s the veggies in your diet that will really make the difference. The antioxidants in the veggies will speed up recovery time, and the fiber will slow down your body’s carb absorption–providing you with a steady energy burn throughout your run. Eat no fewer than five servings of veggies per day and watch your running shape improve!
Establish a Routine
What time do you have the alarm set for? Are your clothes laid out neatly and ready for you to slip into? Do you have your water bottle filled and your playlist queued up? Make it a morning routine, and it will be much easier for your body to slip into “running mode” as if by default.
Listen to Your Body
Your music may be the only thing keeping you running, but you can’t play it so loud that it drowns out what your body is trying to tell you. You need to listen to your body to hear your breathing rate, the pounding of your feet, and the way you feel as you run. Music helps you to focus on the run, but you should run in silence every once in a while just to keep track of your body’s performance during the run.
Instead of just training to be a runner, it’s important to cross train often. This means training your body to handle more than just the exertions of running, but to handle the strain of cycling, swimming, rowing, using the elliptical, etc. Spend at least one day a week NOT running, doing anything that will push your cardio hard but will train it in a new way. You’ll see pretty awesome strides of progress in your running as you improve your cross training fitness.
Warm Up and Cool Down
One of the worst mistakes runners can make it avoiding either the warm up or the cool down. Warming up before you run will reduce your risk of injuries, and will stop your muscles from being sore after the run. Cooling down not only helps to prevent injuries and sore muscles, but it will improve your flexibility as well. Spend a few minutes with the foam roller, working out the kinks in your muscles. Stretch those muscles gently, and you’ll find you’re in much better running shape!