8 Ways to Be a Better Runner in 2018

@criene via Twenty20

1) Set realistic goals

If you’ve completed a 5K, aim for a 10K, not a 50-miler. Give yourself realistic stepping stones that are achievable.

Maybe add in an extra run every other week or race in a different city. You can always set bigger goals too, but remember all the building blocks you’ll need along the way.

2) Volunteer

Whether it is at a run club or a race, giving back to the running community is one of the most rewarding ways to become a better runner.

Not only will you have a better perspective when you are on the other side, but it’s a great way to spend a weekend resting or recovering.

3) Strength train

This is far from hefting dumbbells for hours each day. Strength training can be done in short amounts of time, a few times a week. Fifteen minutes on easy run or rest days is great.

Improve your balance, flexibility, and strength all-in-one by doing exercises that require only your body weight.

4) Sleep more

Rare is the adult that consistently gets enough sleep. Even though we usually have the best intentions, something causes us to get to bed later or wake up earlier.

Having a routine is the best way to have quality sleep — even on the weekends. There will always be exceptions, but make them rarities, not regulars.

5) Eat to run

This is incredibly obvious for most runners so much so that including it seems kind of silly. But for those runners who fall on either end of the spectrum, it’s time to head towards a bit more balance.

Just because you are a runner doesn’t give you a free pass to eat bacon cheeseburgers everyday, but you also don’t have to monitor every single calorie that goes in your mouth.

6) Do speedwork

A “better” runner is vague because what exactly is “better”? In case you were thinking it meant faster, you will need to add or amp up your speedwork in 2018. Speedwork isn’t just for the young and the fast.

Intervals of any kind are great to increase your heart rate and spend a little bit more time in higher heart rate zones. Adding just 1 interval workout per week can help your running performance as well as your overall cardiovascular health.

7) Rest

For all the people that find it hard to start a running program, there are just as many runners who find it hard to rest. To be a better runner, many runners forget they need time to heal.

Especially after a long or hard effort, it is important to give the body a break and allow for repair. More sleep and better nutrition will speed along the process, but taking time off is best.

8) Find balance

You do need consistency in running to maintain health benefits, get faster, or run longer. Aim for 90 percent in your training schedule. There will be sick kids, long work days, vacations, and late nights.

It’s okay (really type A’s, it’s okay!) to interrupt your running for a couple of days when life gets in the way.

Don’t try to make up for missed workouts, just jump back in where you left off. Life is better with running, but life isn’t just running.

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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