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A bunch of friends and I were talking about running last week and I noticed that several buddies had lost their mojo: they had either plateaued, or felt as if they had lost all motivation. The idea of running everyday, or for longer, was daunting.
The thing is: you can become a better runner without necessarily running more.
There are tons of ways to become a better runner. So I’ve listed 17 actionable steps you can take today. Surely you can do at least one, right?
1. What is your ‘why’?
The Tip Club reached out to Lucy Bartholomew – Australian ultra marathoner extraordinaire – for some advice. Here’s what she wants you to know:
“My one piece of advice would be to know your ‘why’ in the sport. Why are you choosing to open your valuable time running? Why are you daring to be uncomfortable for a little of your day to be more comfortable in the future?
This makes those moments easier.” – Lucy Bartholomew
So, take it from a professional endurance athlete and:
- Set time aside today for a little introspection. Free write or sit somewhere quiet and figure out your why.
Taking the time to complete this short exercise will help you become a better runner today, and for the rest of your life.
2. Create your own mantra
Lucy’s advice carries over here: if you figure out your ‘why’, you are ready to create your very own mantra.
- Follow these steps to create your very own kick-ass mantra
- Once you have it, write it down
- Then stick it on your bathroom mirror or place it somewhere safe
Recall your mantra whenever you’re struggling. (And feel free to repeat it as many times as you need).
3. Finally make that running playlist
If you’re like me, you often think about making amazing playlists, but then forget or just don’t get around to it. Now is the time!
- Open Spotify or Apple music and make at least one new playlist you will love
- If you get into it, create more based on all your running moods
And if you already have a Pandora account, consider getting Pandora Plus.
4. Get the gear that makes you feel like a pro
Sweet gear makes runs more enjoyable – avoid blisters, chafing, etc – but it can also make you feel like a pro. When you look good, you feel good. And it can be surprisingly fun to pick out what you’ll wear on a run when you have good gear to choose from.
- Take stock of what you have and replace old gear (or just treat yourself)
5. Revive your love of running by looking outward
Do this before a tough run, afterwards, or on a day off. Runners’ stories of success or overcoming challenges will come to mind during tough moments, and they might also just help you in other parts of life.
- Watch one of these documentaries
- Listen to one of these podcasts
- Or pick up an inspiring book – discover the 55 best running books of all time
6. Dissect the nitty gritty
Have you been on autopilot recently? Think about what you do before and after runs: do you eat beforehand? How do you hydrate? Is there a way to reschedule something so you run when you really want to?
- Determine something new to try
This might mean picking up some Nuun or meditating before your next run. It can be literally anything different from what you’ve been doing lately. Just nail something down and decide to try it next time.
7. Sign up for a race
When you’ve plateaued or feel down in the dumps:
- Check out all 2020 virtual races here and sign up for one. Just do it.
Having a new goal and something to look forward to can be life-changing.
8. Explore new routes
Either literally (explore your neighborhood or nearby town) or figuratively:
- Download AllTrails and figure out your next new running route
If you don’t like running new routes, explore why this might be.
It’s common for eager runners to underestimate the benefits of recovering properly. Read here why dedicating time to recovering is essential.
- Massage your muscles
- Get a professional massage if you can, or use a massage device (here are the best ones)
- Take a nap
- Soak in an epsom salt bath
There’s nothing like a good bath.
10. Invest in these shoes
This recovery gear gets its own spot on the list because it’s the gear, and the way to recover, that no one thinks about. They’re designed to be soft on the joints and they help with an array of things like plantar fasciitis. Read about them here.
These incredibly comfortable shoes will massage your feet. Trust me, you’ll never wear any other sandal ever again.
Learn about running!
- Get the lingo down: google pace, cadence, gait, hr zones, tempo runs, etc.
- Watch videos on good running form
- Order a book on running techniques
There is always more to learn. Period. So whether you’re a novice, or an experienced runner, there are scientific journals to be read, interviews to be watched, and books to read.
12. Get positive
Journaling can help you recognize the merits of running. As Deena Kastor will remind you in her book Let Your Mind Run, it’s a wonderful way to develop a gratitude practice, which in tun will improve your running.
- Dedicate a notebook to journaling
- Write your first entry
There are lots of ways to stretch (i.e. static or dynamic), and many runners opt not to before a run. The general consensus though is that stretching post-run, or on a rest day, is incredibly fruitful. It helps with mobility, prevents injuries, and keeps everything loose. Read all about it here and find specific stretches for runners.
- Roll out your mat and dedicate the next 15 minutes to stretching
Just do it. You’ll feel great afterwards (maybe even during!) and you’ll definitely feel the difference tomorrow morning. If you’re willing to invest less than 10 bucks on a foam roller, which I highly recommend, get this one. And if you can splurge, for just a little more, get this one.
14. Start a meditation practice
Meditation helps the mind stay balanced and keep calm, and it will certainly help your running.
- Download Headspace
- Start the free trial
- Meditate today
If you need some convincing, read about the amazing benefits of meditation.
15. Thank your former coach
Did you run in high school? Is there someone who got you into running?
- Call them (or write them) to thank them
That’s it. Reach out now to that friend, coach, or parent who got you excited to run in the first place. There’s nothing like a good reminiscing sess, and this might lead you to figure out your ‘why’ if you haven’t already.
16. Discover the shoes designed for you
There are tons and tons and tons of running shoes out there and everyone seems to have their favorite. The thing is: the right show for one person might not be the best fit for you. Running shoes have the ability to prevent injuries and help you run faster. If there’s one item you should invest in: it’s proper running shoes.
- Go to a running store
- Ask to get fitted. This will likely include running on a treadmill so a specialist can analyze your form – do you land on your heel? Do you over pronate?
- Get the shoe recommendation and pick the specialist’s brain. This is a great opportunity to get advice.
And voila! The comfort of knowing you are running in shoes that complement your feet and running style is priceless.
17. Find the support you crave
You may have already told some folks that you’re a runner (or aspiring runner), but you might have noticed that they’re not necessarily the best support team. Comments like “I hate running” or “I’d rather sleep in” is not necessarily the most helpful. Be honest with yourself and make sure you have the right support. Joining a Facebook group is particularly nice if you want some anonymity.
- Join a friendly running Facebook group
- Finally tell your partner, friend, or that family member who will *actually*cheer you on
- Join a local running club
Joining a Facebook group is particularly nice if you want some anonymity or want advice and cheers from lots of people. It’s also a great way to find a new running buddy.
Remember, you can return to this list on rest days, or whenever you need that little boost to keep going. You don’t have to do all of these today.
So just pick one, whichever stands out to you the most, and do it now so you become a better runner today.