1. Set small and personal goals. As my runs got longer and harder, I hit a wall that made each long run seem like a treck across the Great Wall of China. How did I make it through? I set small goals that were individual to my current distance and pace. I began to break the long runs into chunks focusing one section at a time. At certain points I allowed myself to take a breaks, jogging as slow as I wanted for 1-2 minutes. This helped me maintain my mental focus and physical stamina throughout my runs. I also stopped comparing myself to other runners and focused on setting time and distance goals that would help my current pace improve. So whether you're trying to run your 1st or 21st mile, do set small, achievable goals that are specific to your current status. Those small goals will eventually lead to big ones.
2. Find a buddy. Running for over 2 hours can be hard, but it’s easier if you have someone to keep you company. Training with someone also provides accountability on those days when you’d rather have needles stuck under your fingernails than run. Don’t have a buddy crazy enough to train with you? Some good audio is also helpful. Make a playlist of your favorite tunes or even download an audio book to keep you entertained on the long runs. I also really enjoyed using a running app. It allowed me to see my current pace, distance, time, and overall pace. It also saved my runs in an activity log and let me write notes about the runs. This gave me the opportunity to set goals of what time I wanted to beat on my next run and remember what food I ate prior to my run and how it made me feel. I used the Nike+ Run Club app on my iphone, but there are many options for iphones and Androids that have different features you might like better. So if you have a friend to train with, great! Otherwise, find some other ways to stay entertained and keep yourself accountable.
3. Talk about it. As soon as I decided to run the 25k, it began coming up in conversation. First, with my family, then with my friends, then with strangers. As I talked about it more I found people with more running experience who were willingly offered tips, encouragement, a tour of the course, and who assured me that I wasn’t crazy. I found others who thought I was, but the assurance and assistance that more experienced runners gave me proved invaluable. So talk to others about your goals and find people who have gone before you on the journey to the finish line of the run or other goal you have set.
4. Enjoy the ride. Through this experience I saw a lot more of my neighborhood, enjoyed more of the beautiful (and sometimes not so beautiful) weather, said no to a lot more junk food, and enjoyed the positive feeling of being disciplined that I would have missed if I hadn't set this goal. Although the most rewarding part was crossing the finish line, there were innumerable rewards along the way. So be thankful for each opportunity you have to work towards your goal and let the success of one day, one small goal, one act of discipline fuel you to the next. Cross the finish line to your goal.
Experiencing a running injury or need some running advice? Contact our running experts here at the Center by visiting our Video Gait Analysis page here, or call and schedule a consultation at (616)954-0950.