From mobility and proper recovery tools to nutrition knowledge and the ability to create a kick-butt workout playlist, running requires a large set of many different skills.
Sure, running is a mostly simple sport, but if you want to improve the quality of your training it’s necessary to take a look at the little details that, as you start to run more and more, can begin to make it a bit more complicated.
Learning and consistently improving upon the following five skills will help improve your overall fitness, enhance your training, protect against injury, and at the end of the day, make you an overall better runner.
1.) Eating Right
Yes, you are running a lot and burning up a ton of calories, but that doesn’t mean you should treat your diet like a free-for-all. Nutrition is still important. Having a diet rich in protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables will help your body recover quicker and perform more efficiently. Refueling within 30 minutes of your workout is extremely important for optimal muscle repair and recovery, but if for some reason you forget to plan ahead and can’t get your hands on anything right away, make sure to have a quality meal as soon as possible afterward. Planning ahead is key when it comes to fueling your body well. It might take a little extra time, but it is definitely worth it!
2.) Strides, Drills, and Active Stretching
Never neglect the little things. Extras like strides, drills and stretching might seem small, but when performed consistently they can add up to big results. Strides are not necessary every day, but they are a great way to prepare for speed workouts. Active stretching is also important. Make sure to never stretch cold muscles, this can lead to muscle strains and injuries. Drills are good to do on a regular basis as well; they increase your mobility and will also improve your running form.
That’s right, sleeping well is a skill. If it means shutting down your laptop and all social media an hour before bed, then it is time to invest in a good book or a taste for chamomile tea. Sleeping well also means establishing a bed time. The earlier you get to sleep the better your chances of having a quality night’s rest. Do not underestimate your rest. Sleep will make you faster.
4.) Saying No
Saying no to things that affect your training can be tough, but when you are preparing for a big race or overcoming an injury, sometimes it is OK to say no to a late night social event, junk food or even an extra workout that might overdo it.
5.) Focus, Mindfulness and Adaptability
Katie Mackey, a Brooks Beasts athlete, shares her top three running skills: “Focus: Being in the moment and putting 100% of your attention and willpower into what you are doing. Mindfulness: Doing not only the big things, like workouts, but all the little things like PT exercises, core and drills to prevent injury and build strength. Adaptability: Being prepared to compete to the best of your ability under any circumstances.”