6 Things ‘Real’ Runners Know About Training That You Don’t

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1) How to set reasonable goals

If you just completed a couch to 5K program, it is probably ill-advised to train for a 1:30 half-marathon. However, if you’ve completed a bunch of 5Ks and 10Ks, it is very reasonable to not just expect to finish a half-marathon.

Choose a goal race and pace within reason. Build long run and overall mileage by no more than 10% a week. If you are training only 3 days a week now, don’t jump into a 6 day training program. Injury and burnout will sideline you quickly.


2) How to prepare for obstacles

There will be a late meeting at work. It will rain for 4 days in a row. You will get a cold. Be as prepared as possible to keep excuses at bay. Get up before work to run if you constantly have interruptions in the evening.

Learn to love the rain or the treadmill. If you are too sick to work, you are too sick to run. Don’t try to make up missed mileage. Pick up where you left off when you are recovered.

3) How to be inspired, but avoid comparison

Some runners are best at 70 miles a week. Some are best at 20. Some runners can run a 17 minute 5K. Some are working to break 45 minutes. Social media has made it really easy to play the comparison game and get caught up with other people’s workouts or training regimens.

Allow yourself to be inspired to be the best version of you, but don’t get bogged down in comparing ability.

4) That you need to eat to run – not run to eat

Running does burn a lot of calories, but it is not an invitation for a buffet free-for-all. Many runners get caught up in allowing themselves extra treats or portions simply because they feel as though they’ve earned it.

In fact, a lot of runners gain weight while training because of this notion. Stick to reasonable sized portions and stop when you are sated.

5) That you will plateau

Beginning runners will likely to continue to improve if they stick with it. As you begin to increase mileage and speed, it will seem as though there is no limit to getting better. However, every consistent runner reaches a plateau eventually.

The remedy is usually time, but many runners will find themselves searching for a new training plan or a new pair of shoes to provide a magical fix.

6) That it doesn’t get easier, but it does become habitual

At some point, every runner will have the aha! moment in which they realize they are a runner. If faced with injury or illness, an experienced runner will often feel frustrated or angry that they cannot run.

It doesn’t mean that running suddenly becomes easier for those who have developed the habit. It just indicates that running has become a way of life.

Carissa Liebowitz has run the Boston Marathon as well as dozens of marathons and half marathons. You can follow her running adventures on Instagram and her blog.

2 comments… add one
  • Lena July 5, 2017, 9:22 am

    After running for 2.5 years, I became sidelined by some pretty serious bilateral tibia damage. I’d finally started calling myself a runner, and yes, it had become a way of life. I realized, when I drove down the road that I was envious of other runners, and I was waking up angry that I couldn’t run. That’s when I KNEW I was a runner (at heart, since I certainly don’t look like your average runner!) Almost 6 months later, I’m finally off of crutches most days, and have been able to increase my daily steps to 2000-4000 depending on the day. I see a good run in my future, finally!!

    • Terrell Johnson July 6, 2017, 6:41 am

      That is dedication, Lena!! Love hearing your story, and I’m awed by the courage you’ve got to get up and keep moving and improve every day. I wish you the best in your recovery and hope you keep in touch to let us all know how it goes. You go girl!!

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