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How to Push Yourself to Run Faster and Further

02-May-17

By Cassie Phillips

Most people think of running as purely a physical sport. However, any runner will tell you this isn’t true; there are several mental barriers you have to overcome as a runner to get the most from your efforts and to hit your running goals. The first hurdle is getting ready and out the door for a running session. If you're a runner, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Sometimes putting on your trainers and getting out the door is the hardest part.

Pushing yourself to run faster and further comes from a combination of mental and physical training. Without working on your physical abilities and the way you think, it's impossible to improve your running distance and speed.

Because of this, I want to share some effective ways to healthily and strategically increase your running time and mileage.

Strength Training

When you start to take running seriously, you quickly realise you need to do some strength training. The running novice is usually a little surprised by this, assuming the only way to train as a runner is to run. To decrease your muscle fatigue, consider using the following exercises:

  • Deadlifts
  • Lunges
  • Squats
  • Planks
  • Push Ups

These exercises are great for runners since they work out the areas of the body that will aid your running abilities and skills. Muscular fatigue is one of the main reasons runners lose energy, and a lack of core strength can lead to injuries.

Increasing your strength in your legs, core and upper body will make you a more powerful runner, helping you to run farther and faster for longer. Some runners are sceptical of strength training, associating it with bulking up, but if you do it right, this isn't the case. Make sure to focus on low-weight, high-rep exercises. These build strength and not muscle, helping you stay lean while acquiring the strength needed to make you a better runner.

Don't Miss Training

This point may seem obvious, but infrequent or intermittent training won't help you reach your running goals. A lot of people avoid training sessions if it's raining outside or they're feeling lethargic for any reason. I've already spoken about this, but sometimes the hardest part to training and running is getting out the door.

Do whatever you can to start and complete every training session. This could include using a treadmill if the weather outside is bad or visiting the gym to use their equipment if yours is broken. Where there's a will there's a way, but missing training is one of the most dangerous things to a runner, as it will affect your mind-set and could eventually hurt your performance.

Years ago I let this danger get to me, and it actually stopped my running hobby completely. I used to run almost every day. Then, one day I just wasn't feeling it, and thought to myself, "I can miss just one run." That one-day turned into a few months of sporadic training and ended up costing me lots of valuable training time.

There are plenty of reasons for taking a break from running, but it is important they are planned breaks. Unless you are injured or sick, a training day is a training day and a rest day a rest day. Stick to this, and you will see much better results over time.

Optimistic Mind Set

I remember when I was training for my first ever serious marathon event. When I signed up, something shifted in me. I felt the need to train almost immediately —I altered my diet, and my thoughts were always related to the big day. I didn't want to perform badly, and I wanted to give other runners a good competition.

This all translated into a more driven mind set. I was running for longer and at a much faster pace, all because I felt the pressure to improve before the marathon so that I could compete at my best.

However, if you’re not signed up for a race or aren’t as competitive, obtaining this mind set is a challenge. It’s not as simple as waking up one day saying “let’s go!” This might work for a while, but you need a more concerted effort to stay focused.

One of the things I did to try and develop this mind set was to listen to motivational audios, such as music or speeches while running. Depending on where you are (running races can bring you to all parts of the world) you might have trouble accessing this content unless you find a solution to restrictions. Once you find something that works for you, you’ll want to make sure you have access to it during training and for pre-race preparations.

There are also apps you can use to help you stay motivated and focused. I personally use "Runtastic Story Running" due to its uniqueness and effectiveness for my personality. This app tells stories that will push you to continue running, tapping into your mind set with inspirational stories and even scary thrillers that will make you feel the pressure to keep on running. Whichever method you choose to use, stick with it and watch as your mind set helps you run faster and farther.

Overall, I hope you’ll find a way to incorporate one or all of these tips in the way you run. I've witnessed complete transformations in my own running and that of other runners with strength exercises, commitment to a training schedule and a shift in mind set.

Taking the time to add these strategies to your training regimen will go a long way towards helping you achieve better results. While some of these might not seem directly related to running, you’ll be surprised at just how much they will help you improve as a runner.

About the author: Cassie is a health and tech blogger with a keen passion for running. She enjoys signing up for marathons and other events in her area and also coaches people on mind set and workouts that aid running. www.ehealthinformer.com

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