7 Tips For Taking Your Running to the Next Level

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1) Learn how to set goals — and which goals to set

Taking your running to the next level usually means either running faster or longer. Sometimes both. It is important to set realistic expectations for yourself and continue to adjust even as you settle into your next rhythm of training.

Most of us are pretty self-aware of our abilities, but putting the goals on paper (or on a spreadsheet) will make it easier to stay committed.

2) Do you need a coach?

Going longer or faster doesn’t require a coach. Plenty of runners take on new challenges without one, but a coach will often help to keep you accountable as well as give you guidance to meet your goals.

Great coaches will work with you to give you a training plan that suits your needs and will assist you in staving off injury and burnout.

3) Be honest about your time commitments

Generally, taking your running to the next level will require more time. Even if you aren’t running that much more than before, you likely will need more time for strength training, stretching, and recovery.

4) How much are you willing to pay?

Longer races are generally more expensive — 5K’s are generally far less expensive than half-marathons. Plus, many training programs will have runners do a tune-up race partially through their schedule to see where their fitness level lies.

You can avoid extra expenses by doing your own time trials or running local races, but many runners find that other racers give them motivation to run both faster and longer.

5) Do you need more gear?

Leveling up is possible without extra gear. But a GPS watch to track pace, better shoes suited for running, a headlamp for getting those runs in before or after work, or clothes that don’t chafe are often expenses that runners have when they are taking their running to the next level.

6) Clean up your diet

Recreational runners often run to eat. Those who are taking the next steps should be prepared to eat to run.

It’s not to say that everything that you put in your mouth has to be nutritious, but there are known benefits in cleaning up your diet to become a better runner.

7) Aftermath control

Consider what happens when you reach your goal. Or what happens if you have been training and you don’t meet your goal. One of these scenarios will happen and you will need to determine your next steps.

Have a game plan of whether you will continue to pursue your goal or take on a new challenge.

Most runners don’t want to just accomplish something and stop running so figure out what motivates you to keep going.

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

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