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How to Be a Better Runner

How to be a better Runner…

How to be a better runner

Stay consistent and track your progress!

Both concepts are fairly obvious. If you stay consistent in anything you will eventually improve.  Nothing in life is linear, and training is never an exception.

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You could be working your butt off and see absolutely no progress.  Don’t worry, I’ve been there, and my training hit a plateau last summer and again in November and December. Those months were the hardest not to give up.  It felt as if I was working hard but had nothing to show for it.  I was putting in the time, mileage and recovery and not seeing improvements.

I consistently trained through the plateau.  It’s easier to run when you are doing well, and everything seems awesome.  It’s much harder to stay consistent when training is not going your way.  The less consistent you are, the fewer results you see, and you begin a downward spiral.  It’s important to stay consistent through both periods of good and bad training.

The second part is it’s important to track your progress.  With anything in life, we often forget what we don’t write down.  By tracking your progress, you’re able to look back at training six months from now.  You can see what worked and what didn’t.  You can see “was I really consistent”?

Do I remember what I ran February 3, 2015?  Of course, not but now I can look back and see I ran eight easy miles.

Tracking your workouts is one of the single biggest ways to improve.  You know your actual mileage and actual fitness level.  It’s something you need to know to improve.  You cannot improve if you don’t know where your starting point is.  By tracking your mileage, you can begin that process.

The importance of tracking your mileage does not just include distance. It includes the minor details such as:

  • How did I feel mentally or emotionally?
  • Did I have any aches and pains while running?
  • Are there any trends with how I feel after a workout? (For instance, if you are sore for six workouts in a row, there is probably an issue)
  • Do you excel in particular weather? Do you excel after you’ve eaten a particular food?

Other blogging challenges I’ve written about:
One Mistake I’m Glad I made
Why Training for Shorter Distances Will Make You Better at Longer Ones
Deep Tissue Massages
Steps to Increase Mileage and Stay Injury Free

Tweet: How to be a Better Runner http://ctt.ec/4dt27+ Via @fueledbyLOLZ

Questions for you:
Do you track your progress?
How do you stay consistent when you have hit a plateau?

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Steps to Increase Mileage and Stay Injury Free

Step to Increase Mileage and Stay Injury Free

During the last sixth months, I’ve upped my mileage as well as added more speed workouts.  I’ve been able to stay injury free throughout the process.

Steps to increase mileage and stay injury free

But how?

Step 1. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
If you increase your mileage too quickly, you will get injured and be sidelined.  Follow the 10% increase of mileage.  If you ran 40 miles last, adding 10% will give you 44.  I’m normally pretty good about this rule.

Step 2: Decrease with your Increase
This step has multiple parts.

First every few weeks, it’s important to take a recovery week.  It’s the golden rule, but your body must rest and recover to build muscle, speed and endurance.  Personally, I like to add 1-2 more rest days and drop out of 1 or both of my speed workouts.

Here are a couple of articles:
10 Laws of Injury Prevention
The 10% Rule

Step 2.5 Decrease Your Speed with Increased Mileage
Reducing speed is an important but overlooked fact.  You can’t run the same speed when running 10 miles a week or 100.  Sprinting a 100-mile week will result in massive fatigue, exhaustion and ultimately injury.

While I didn’t run 100 miles, it was the reason of my first stress fracture.  For example, I don’t worry about my pace on easy days.  Sometimes I run with a watch and sometimes I don’t.  You must pick and choose which runs are fast.

Step 3: Know your Limits

Injuries don’t typically come out of nowhere.  Know your personal weak spots. Running is a lifelong process, and it takes months to build a strong base.  Don’t rush the process because you’ll be sidelined with a minor or major injury.

Other Running Posts I’ve Written Lately:
Why Training for Shorter Distances Will Make You a Better Distance Runner
There is no Perfect Running Shoe
Deep Tissue Massages

Tweet: Steps to Increase Mileage and Stay Injury Free http://ctt.ec/7M8fL+ via @fueledbylolz

Questions for you:
How many miles do you run weekly?
How do you stay injury free and healthy?

Deep Tissue Massages

Blog Challenge 4: Reasons Why I Always Make Time for Deep Tissue Massages

Should you get a deep tissue massage

It’s not a thought provoking or “change your life” post, but deep tissue massages are something I make time in my schedule as well as the budget for each month. Deep Tissue Massages keep my muscles healthier and my body recovering from workouts, races and training faster.

I’ve been injured several times in my running career. Most of my injuries are bone related but like any runner I’ve suffered from sore or tight muscles.

So why get deep tissue massages?

The scientific answer: A Massage works to lengthen muscles and restore the range of motion, relieve muscle tightness as well as improve circulation.

First, anyone can foam roll and improve circulation, but if you are like me, then you never get deep enough into your muscles.  Deep tissue massages are done by a professional who knows how to find trigger points, adhesions or tight muscles that are specific to you.

Deep tissue massages will leave you sore at first. They break down scar tissue and muscle adhesions and then flush them out of your system. Personally, when I receive a deep tissue massage, I am sorer for 48 hours and then feel significantly better.

It’s important to tell the masseuse what is sore and what gets the most sore.  Every person and runner is different and a massage is tailored to your needs.  You will get the most benefit by being vocal of what you need.

When should you get a deep tissue massage? 

The timing of a deep tissue massage is necessary. Similar to a workout, it’s important not to get a massage right before a goal race. My personal rule is 3-5 days before.  It allows your muscles to recover.

Your message will also not be as beneficial if you get it the same day after a race. The masseuse will not be able to go as deep into your muscles because they are already swollen. My rule of thumb is waiting 1-2 days afterwards.

I am just speaking from personal experience with deep tissue massages. I’ve found they keep the majority of my muscles injury free and keep my running well too.

For anyone in the South Jersey and Philadelphia area, Dr. Kemenosh has just added deep tissue massages back into the list of methods they utilize over there.  (Dr. Kemenosh and his team fixed my glute, hamstring and butt issue injury after my marathon).   I can’t say enough positive things about their team!

Here are more articles I found interesting as well:
When Should Runners Get a Deep Tissue Massage?
The Pros and Cons of Massages for Runners

Questions for you:
Have you ever gotten a deep tissue or any massage?

Why training for Shorter Distances will you make you a Better Distance Runner

Why training for Shorter Distances will you make you a Distance Runner

Why training for shorter races will make you a better distance runner

Let’s face it, we all have our favorite distance.  For some people that’s a 55-meter sprint and for some it’s an ultra marathon.  Everyone has their favorite distance.

Personally, I enjoy the half marathon the most.  It’s short enough not to feel the fatigue of a marathon or the delusion but long enough that I don’t feel like I’m all out sprinting.

Sometimes we get stuck in the same race distance rut. We train for the same distance year round. Not only can it get repetitive on your body but it can also cause over use injuries and be mentally exhausting.

Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves and our running is to take a break and train for another distance.

But why?

Training for various distances can benefit any runner in a few ways. 

First: A mental break:

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Sometimes going through countless weekend long runs can be tiring, boring and downright unenjoyable. The feeling of high mileage can even become annoying, repetitive or mentally challenging.  Focusing at different distances throughout the year allows your brain a mental break.  There isn’t a need to run a 20-mile long run while training for 5ks, in fact, it’s counter-intuitive.

Sometimes lowering mileage and training for a shorter race can break you free of that training rut. Doing faster runs with more “action”, can bring excitement back to your running. To be honest,  I felt bored and tired after Phoenix.

My training the last six months have shifted to multiple speed workouts, races, and runs filled with action. That change broke me out of the LSD (long, slow distance) rut I had been in for months.

Long Runs also take a lot of time.  It’s not the three hours of actual running but the recovery period, as well as are the “are you going to want to be productive the rest of the day” mindset after a long run.  Most of my 20 mile long run days were spent relaxing at home and being as lazy as humanly possible.

Second: Running Shorter distances builds different muscles: 

Obviously running any distance uses muscles in your legs but each distance affects your muscles in a different way.

5ks use more fast-twitch muscles while longer races use more slow twitch muscles.  Building both can benefit your running in every distance.

Hidden Bonus: More racing

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Generally a half or full marathon costs upwards of 100 dollars.  Now you can do at least 3, sometimes many more 5ks for that same price.  So yes you are paying $25-30 per 5k, but you are racing more often.

You also recover much faster from races, so you have the ability to run more races while still recovering appropriately.

Here are some more research based articles:

The Risks and Benefits of Distance Running

Why You Should Drop the Marathon for 5ks

Tweet: Why training for Shorter Distances will you make you a better Distance Runner http://ctt.ec/Q36q3+ CC @fueledbyLOLZ

Questions for you:
Do you have a favorite distance to run?
What is your favorite type of workout?

One Mistake I’m Glad I Made

Lately, I’ve been in a blogging funk, so I decided to participate in a blogging topic challenge. Many of the blog topics are ones I haven’t discussed in a lot of detail. Most of the posts will relate to my personal experience with running, but there might be exceptions too.

Blog Challenge 1: One mistake I’m glad I made

No one likes to make mistakes.  The feeling of failure can be one of the hardest emotions to come to terms with. However, if you can learn from a mistake, it’s hard to consider the mistake a failure.  We all live, and we all make mistakes.

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I’ve made plenty if mistakes in life, in relationships and of course in running too.  

One of my earliest errors in running was overtraining and receiving my first stress fracture.  

At the time, I wasn’t glad.  In fact, I was miserable and upset but in hindsight, I’m glad I made that mistake. Early into my running career, I was running too hard and too fast for every single run.  I was running every mile between 7-7:15.  My 5k PR was around 20 minutes, and I had never even attempted a half or full marathon.

(To compare now my easy runs are above 8:30 pace or untimed and my 5k PR is 18:22.  Running is also not stressful this way.) 

While I wasn’t running extremely high mileage (in the 40-50s), the constant pounding and hard running lasted about a month.  On July 12, 2011 (also known as my 21st birthday), I ran hard and ultimately ended with a severe tibial stress fracture.  Looking back, it’s fairly obvious the cause was overtraining.  

Since I was new and had no idea, I thought, of course, I was training well.  While injured, I took the time to look back at my training and I learned more about myself and running than I had previously.  I began learning that my body is not invincible.  Little pains can manifest themselves into larger issues. It was a lesson I needed to learn early!

If I had continued down that path of running, it would have been a disaster and honestly, I would be injured with something more serious.

During my two months of rest and recovery, I learned that running isn’t and never will be everything in my life. I also learned that it’s appropriate to listen to cues of injury. Taking a rest day here and there is far easier than taking 8+ weeks off.

My tibial stress fracture shaped my training now that I’m not afraid to run easier miles, cut back mileage or take rest days altogether. Just thinking about back to back 7-minute miles is enough to exhaust me.

Each injury teaches us something about ourselves. Instead of dwelling in the injury, I think it’s important to look back and realize what can be improved.

Questions for you:
What is one mistake you are glad you made?
Has an injury taught you something recently?

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