I’ll set the scene. It’s a brisk 50 degrees, the sun is just starting to show itself over the trees basking the foreground in a pinkish-orange light. I can see my breath, presenting itself in short, rhythmic puffs that match my stride. I’m all alone this morning, some 6 miles in, and I started to think about ways I could pass on some small fragment of advice. I came up with a few tips that I believe are paramount for runners of all levels and abilities. These thoughts are highlighted below. Thank you for listening.
You will never be able to appreciate your accomplishments, learn from your failures, or become a better runner and person if you can’t accept yourself. Do not be mistaken, looking up to other runners and appreciating other people’s accomplishments is vital to upholding a healthy community and overall self. However, you should be accepting of your own ability, your body and your fitness in general. A small caveat to this self-appreciation: NEVER BE SATISFIED. You should accept who you are and embrace it, but always strive to be a better version of yourself! The rest will come.
Something many runners struggle with is overall consistency. You may find yourself absolutely killing it for a few months leading up to a race, but after the fire inside of you returns to a smolder, your running shoes see less and less pavement. One of the most challenging essentials to becoming a successful runner is training when you don’t want to. Waking up at 6AM to put in a few miles before the sun is up or trudging through an evening run after a long workday is the very last thing that anyone truly WANTS to do. However, it’s the very thing that you MUST do if you want to see drastic improvements in your running and arguably your life. But how do you stay motivated and consistent when you don’t have a race in the foreseeable future?
This is how. Your goals should be personal, attainable, and challenging. When the glory of race day is gone and you feel like that ice cream in the freezer would taste an awful lot better than eating miles, your goals will be the fire inside that pushes you out the door. They may very well be the only thing you have left to motivate you. Make a conscious effort to set meaningful goals that will challenge your resolve and push you to break boundaries.
You can write down 50 amazing goals that look great on paper and may make an awesome social media post, but if you fail to accomplish them, what’s the point? Hold yourself accountable! Tell a close friend or confidant about some of your goals. Ask them to remind you about what you’re working towards when you feel beaten down and tired. Try writing them down and posting them in a place where you’ll see them. A bathroom mirror is a great place to be reminded of why you’re putting in all that work!
Finally, if you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong. You’ve got to find a reason to run. Is it racing? Is it fitness? It doesn’t matter what your underlying motivation is. What matters is that you’re enjoying yourself. If you find yourself broken and struggling to find meaning, try something new. Sign up for a race, grab a training buddy, or come out to one of our social runs. We promise to make it inclusive and positive, it would be an honor if you’d join us. Get some new gear, a new pair of socks or shoes, perhaps. Change it up a bit, and you may just reignite the spark that pushed you out the door when your journey began.
Love yourself, be consistent, set goals, beat those goals, and enjoy living life doing it. Those are my 5 tips to becoming a better runner. It’s a formula that has served me pretty well so far. Go out there and kill it.
As Always, Keep Running! // John von Dohlen