How to become a better runner is probably the most frequently asked question by runners.
Whether you want to be faster or be able to run longer, we all seek that perfect solution on how to become better.
But the truth is that there is no magic bullet.
Whether you’re very competitive and having a good race result is the most important aspect of running to you. Or if you really enjoy all aspects of running, but would like to see some improvement happening.
We all like to do well and that’s normal.
You get that big smile on your face and feel so proud of yourself. And nobody can take that away from you.
This is important because our mind wants us to push ourselves to be better and better. That is why you almost never feel that you achieved your ultimate result. Because as soon as you achieve that what you used to think was absolutely impossible and unachievable, your mind is already setting a new goal for you. And so the story continues…
Ok, so now that we’ve concluded that wanting to become a better runner is unavoidable and that you should just accept this as part of your running journey, let’s see what you should do about it. 🙂
1. CHOOSE A TRAINING PROGRAM
And by that I mean choose ONE training program.
Now I know that this sounds very simple and logical, but this is one thing where many runners make a mistake. They keep jumping from one tactic to another and keep changing the initial program. Or they don’t even have a program to follow, but just randomly run a few days a week depending on how they feel that day.
And this is what makes a big difference between a runner who just does random workouts or one who follows a structured training program.
Let’s take a look at all the elements this program has to have:
It’s very important that the difficulty of the program which you choose is adapted for your current running level. Because it doesn’t make sense to have a lot of workouts with fartlek and tempo runs or uphills if you haven’t built up your endurance and running base yet.
But on the other hand, if you already have a good running base for the distance you’re preparing, then you should absolutely have tempo runs and uphills included to raise your speed to the next level.
SUITED FOR YOUR RACE
The program needs to be suited for the length, type and the date of your race. That also means that you should have only one goal race. Sure you can run more races in that period, but you should be clear about what your goal race is. That is especially important to take into account if you’ll run any races prior to that one.
It doesn’t make sense to choose a program for a half marathon when you’re preparing to run the marathon or vice versa. And this goes the same whether it’s a shorter race or an ultra. Yes, any program will help somewhat, but that’s not the point. The point is that you want to do specifically the things which will help you improve with the least amount of effort needed.
If you’re preparing to run a trail race with a lot of uphill, technical segments, it is not the same as preparing to do a road race. The training program will have some similar elements, but the specific preparations will be different and this will make a big difference for you on the race day. Since you’ll be ready for what is ahead of you it will make the whole experience more enjoyable!
Full training programs usually last about 12-16 weeks for half marathons and marathons and can be shorter for 5k-10k and longer for the ultras. It all also depends on what level of fitness you’re starting from. So make sure to align the start of your program with your race date.
TRUST THE PROGRAM
Choose a training program which you trust.
This is really important because you will follow this program for the next 3-4 months and it’s important to not have any doubts about it as there will be moments when you will be tired and won’t feel like running.
Trust the program and the coach who created it.
That’s because everything is created to make sense together and prepare you for your race.
And I’m saying this from my personal experience. Every time I altered my training program because I wanted to try something different out, it didn’t work out for the best.
2. FOLLOW THE PROGRAM
Here comes the simplest, but the most important factor in becoming a better runner.
And that’s following the program.
Yep, just stick to the program and do the workouts. No skipping, no excuses.
The problem with this is that it’s too simple and people often think that things need to be complicated in order for them to work. That’s not true. It’s the simple art of discipline and following through that makes the biggest difference.
That’s great because it means that you can achieve amazing progress by just doing the workouts regularly! Believe me, the progress will be astonishing!
The bad thing about this is that there really isn’t any room for excuses.
The best thing is to put in your weekly schedule a dedicated time for your running workouts and stick to it. Don’t change it no matter if your friend is calling you for a drink or if it’s raining outside.
That won’t bring results. Consistency will.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Yep, Consistency is what will make you extremely proud of yourself after the race. Proud not only because you achieved something, but also because you made a goal for yourself and you didn’t give up on it. Proud to tell the story of how you worked hard, made amazing progress and became a better runner.
Oh, but what if you don’t want to work hard?
Haha, having a training program doesn’t mean you need to train 7 days a week. It means taking a program which is achievable and manageable for you. That can mean preparing for a 5k race and training 2-3 times a week. Your training program should not feel like a punishment.
So let me repeat this once again, the program you choose should be achievable and manageable for you. Otherwise, it’s a failure waiting to happen. It can manifest in an injury, failure and disappointment or arguments with your family.
Be clear with yourself about your goals and what is necessary to achieve them.
I’m saying this because sometimes we want to do a really long race, but don’t have enough time to do appropriate workouts for it. In that case, it’s better to go for a shorter race now and postpone that longer one for later. Because there is no point in torturing your body to do something it’s not ready to do.
Becoming a better runner is not rocket science and is absolutely something you can easily achieve. But it does take some focus and discipline. Like with anything else in life.
Actually, it is running that taught me that with consistent and structured efforts almost all goals in life are within my reach. So the only thing you need to do is decide what you want and start working towards it.
And if one of your dreams is to run 100 km race one day then read my story about Passatore, the best race to run 100 km.