I'm in the fortunate position to help hundreds if not THOUSANDS of runners every year. I have individual runners I train. I lead the charge for a Run Club in San Francisco that sees 75-100 runners year round. I engage with countless runners year round via SportMe Run Trainer.
In reflecting on ALL of the various questions, concerns, and conundrums I've tackled this past year, there are a handful of problems I dealt with that simply stood out more than others. Some of these problems included injuries, lackluster race performances, or simply feeling isolated and alone during a lengthy training cycle.
If any of these problems resonate for you, you might want to read on. What I've indicated below are the most common 'resolutions' to some of the biggest (and most frequent) problems I dealt with this year. Embrace some (or all) of these resolutions and you just might find yourself faster, happier, and healthier in the new year.
Resolve to rest with no shame.
I have a number of runners I work with on an individual basis. It's not unusual for me to assign additional miles, intervals, hills, or other 'developmental opportunities' to help them notch their next personal best. But, just as frequently, I'm advising my runners to 'rein it in' in order to run better.
Ruthless consistency is what I often preach if you want to become a better runner. But, ruthless consistency doesn't mean you never take a day off. It doesn't mean rest is not part of the training equation.
Rest can be the answer to staving off an injury. It can also be the answer to posting that elusive personal best you've always been chasing. Don't discount the power of a day off.
I know it's not easy to do. I understand it may 'feel' like you're doing 'nothing'. But, a day of 'nothing' can sometimes be more productive than a grueling, lung searing session of intervals at the track.
Resolve to get OFF the treadmill.
If it's unsafe to run outside, hop on the treadmill. If the weather is dangerous (not just 'uncomfortable'), log your miles on the treadmill. Otherwise, get OFF the treadmill.
I encounter innumerable runners who log most (all?) of their mileage on a treadmill. This is fine if your race actually takes place on a treadmill. But, I am not aware of too many races that actually take place on a treadmill.
If you're a pianist, it's likely most of your practice takes place on an actual piano. Rehearsing on a portable keyboard might be better than nothing, but it's not the same as the ebony and ivory of a Steinway.
Your training should be as specific as possible for what you're doing on race day. So, if you're preparing for a race on the road, embrace the road for most of your training. If the trail is your final destination on race day, log most of your miles on the trail.
Train specifically for what you're tackling on race day and you'll undoubtedly have a better race. So, get off the treadmill unless there simply is no other viable option.
Resolve to run unplugged.
Set aside the watch. Remove your headphones. Unplug the heart rate monitor. Disconnect from everything you feel you must be connected to in order to run.
Running 'unplugged' forces you to focus on the act of running. It forces you to listen to your breathing. It demands you pay attention to your footstrike.
Periodically doing an 'unplugged' run can help you develop better body awareness. Runs like this can make you realize you're capable of running faster (or farther) than you think you can. Unplug every once in awhile and you may discover something amazing (or at least enlightening).
Resolve to get yourself connected.
One of the great things about running is the 'community'. Running is an 'individual' sport, but when you lace up your kicks, you're entering an INCREDIBLE community of millions of people doing the exact same thing. I've been witness to the genesis of countless friendships, numerous romantic dalliances, a few marriages, and much more.
If you're not part of a club, 'crew', or some other group of runners, find one (I've got a great one in San Francisco, BTW!). The company of others can help keep you accountable. It can help you run faster, farther, and better. Perhaps most importantly, running with others connects you with others.
You might make a litany of new friends. You might stumble onto a soulmate. But, you'll undoubtedly be a better (and perhaps happier) runner for getting yourself connected to the running community.
Resolve to get someone into running.
I'm at my best when I'm running regularly. I'm fitter. I'm sharper. I'm a better person when I'm running.
There's plenty of science out there to indicate my experience is not unique. Running slows the aging process. It stimulates brain cell growth. It's a veritable panacea.
There's little doubt in my mind the world would be a better place if EVERYONE was doing some kind of running. If you're with me on this one, get someone into running. I can (almost) promise you they will thank you for it (eventually)!