Being a consistent runner is one of the keys to racing well. Settle into something and go at it for a period of time. I think that is why training plans, for those of us who run, work so well. There should not be much to second guess. We use them to work for a successful outcome, which could mean a PR, a finished race, conquering a new distance. What consistency is NOT. . .
You wouldn’t run an interval workout everyday and you probably wouldn’t run a marathon every day. If you do you are going to be sick and injured all the time and won’t be able to run at all, so it’s self-policing. -Chris Harig, Improve Running Performance Through Consistent Training
Find a cross training workout that compliments your running to KEEP you consistent by helping you to stay injury free. And, when you try something new, give it at least 2 months!! Trust it. You will be surprised at the results. As I moved into my training cycle for Lookout 50, I knew that I needed to change something with my cross training. My cross training for a good part of this year has been weight training, in the gym. I went to visit my coach, Sonja, to find out what, if anything, I should change. I totally thought she would have me stay in the gym, but change my exercises or add weight to my routine or add reps to my routine. WELL, she rocked my mental world with something totally different and totally hard. She gave me a core workout. (kinda sounded easy when she told me about it. Boy was I wrong.) Here’s the gist. . .
The main benefit of core strength for runners is increased stabilization in the torso. Your core muscles – the chest, back, abs, and obliques – are what keep your torso upright when you run, and reduce “wobbling” when moving your arms & legs. When running, core strength allows the pelvis, hips, and lower back to work together more smoothly, with less rocking & thus, less excess energy expended. Core strength also significantly improves balance, meaning that you recover quickly from missteps small & large. –Runkeeper: core
Here are my key ways I stay consistent.
Consistent on an easy day: Form-when you run 4-6 days a week, it is a terrific time to work on form: hips tall, shoulders relaxed, “holster arms”. You do want tension in the core, but not the shoulders. It is also good to remind yourself to relax your jaw. I think that this is why smiling is so beneficial, during a race or during a hard training run.
Consistent over the course of my training: keep a log-I keep a separate calendar of only running/core stuff. I log mileage, pace, time, elevation (I’m a trail runner). It is easy to tally my monthly miles and compare the months I am training with the months that I am not. It is fun to look at these numbers.
Consistently add fun to the hard and easy days: running trips– you do not need to go far. For a trail runner, the more variety the better, especially because some of our long runs are in excess of 5 hours. For the road runner, I would also suggest this type of training. If you run a road race, of marathon distance within 4-5 hours of home. What a great time to travel to the course and complete your long run. Bring a friend, spend the night. This adds such a FUN element to your training. It is something to look forward to.
Consistently add accountability to my running: adopt a runner-this could be during a training cycle or even on a race day. We all struggle. It is nice to have someone with you to carry you along. We ALL need this. Okay, adopt as many runners as you can, especially if you know that your training will involve many hours or many miles. It is so great to have a friend or two join for part or all of a long or part of a short run.
To stay consistent when it might be HARD: join a group or a friend for a workout that might be challenging on your own–many training plans will suggest a track workout, a hill workout, a pace workout, or a tempo workout. These are all WAY better to do with someone else. These are not supposed to be easy, but they can be fun. Part of the fun is being together. These types of workouts can also be intimidating. I promise they are less intimidating with a friend.
Find a coach or even find someone who is consistently running without injury! You will learn a lot. Staying injury free is a big one, especially for those of us who ARE over 40. I spent an hour with Sonja Friend-Uhl, master’s record holder and coach, and two friends (Delaina and Teresa). One important take away for me was what Sonja said about staying injury free. She told us that when you get injured as a master’s runner and miss some time training, it sets you back to the place you were before the injury. You will lose a lot of time and possibly have to miss a key race.
I firmly believe that if you reduce injuries and get stronger, you will run faster. I’ve seen this in countless athletes that I’ve worked with, from college athletes to professional athletes to recreational runners. The key concept here is consistency: When you reduce injuries, you miss fewer training opportunities. When you get stronger, you miss fewer training opportunities because your body can handle the stress that running puts on your joints, tendons, ligaments and bones. -Jay Johnson, How to Become a Consistent Runner and Nail New PRs
Leaving you with this quote from The Champion’s Mind, How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive, by Jim Afremow, Ph.D. A really, really good book if you have even the tiniest aspiration to THRIVE!
Do not limit yourself to small goals and do not underestimate your personal ability to become more successful. Go for the glory!