If you want to become a better runner, increasing your distance, beating personal records, reaching new goals or to get healthier physically and mentally, all you have to do is to cultivate some simple habits of successful and effective runners.
There are some essential habits that runners can follow and include in their daily schedule to become more efficient and motivated runners.
- Switch to Morning Runs
Everyone has very busy lives. There’s always something in our daily schedule that affects our regular schedule. Between work, social obligations, family busy schedule, most people don’t have time to include regular runs in their daily life, to keep a running routine for the long haul. To start running in the morning will make a huge difference, it gets your run out of the way before your busy life schedule gets in the way.
- To exercise first thing in the morning will make your training more consistent.
- You will be setting a positive mindset for the rest of the day, which will help improve productivity, energy levels and alertness. For runners that are “night people”, if you can keep a regular night run schedule- no problem. But running first thing in the morning can make a huge difference for most people.
- Set a Variety of Goals
To set some goals is very important, it will keep you motivated and consistent. Some efficient goals is planning a race you would love to run; a half or full marathon or trail race, these are great long-term goals. Make sure you register for a race to set up a goal. Increasing your performance can be another annual goal, to beat some PB times, or run longer distances.
Short-term goals are very important as well, these goals can include adding a speedwork session once/week, a long run on the weekend.
- Dynamic Warm-Up Routine Before Every Run and Post-Run Stretching
Another important habit is to look after our body, starting doing dynamic warm-up moves before each run will make a huge difference. Pre-run dynamic warm ups can help raise your core body temperature and heart rate, but also prepare your joints and muscles for intense work. Do a 5-minute warm up routine to activate your essential muscles.
In your running routine, you also need to add some post-run stretches. You need to stretch your running muscles- Hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, calves, glutes, also stretch your shoulders and chest to release the tension in that area.
- Take Care of your Body
Running can affect your body with certain side effects, chafing, cramps, blisters, overuse, injuries. Running can put some pressure on your body and mind, taking care of your body is a very important habit, especially if you are a consistent runner. You need to add recovery as a habit as well to avoid injuries, support your performance level, avoid over-training and fatigue.
- Schedule recovery runs weekly in your training plan.
- Never run through pain.
- Listen to your body and adjust your training accordingly.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Change your running shoes every 600-800Kms.
- Cross-train to strengthen some important muscles and use it as active recovery.
- Add Strength Training
Resistance training is crucial for runners. It fixes muscle imbalances to prevent injuries, builds up power and speed, improves running economy (the total sum of oxygen you need while running). Strength training sessions will help build and maintain a proper running form. Adding at least two sessions/week in your training schedule should be one of your habits. If you are pressed for time, you can do some essential exercises post-run or at home- three sets of 25 push-ups, 30 squats, 20 lunges, and 1 min plank.
- Join a Running Group or Run with Friends
One of the best way for staying committed to a running routine and enjoying a lovely run is running with others. Either joining a running group, or with people you enjoy running which will make a huge difference. Research has shown that people who exercise with others, are more likely to stay consistent with their training program. Running with others can help build up a nice support system.
- Eat Healthy
A healthy diet is crucial. Even for athletes that train non-stop, they would never be able to sustain training with an unhealthy diet. Building up and maintaining life-long healthy eating habits is one of the main habits for runners. First what you consume before, during and after your run influences your performance and training process. Pre-run fueling should include some light and easy to digest foods with healthy carbs. Fueling and hydrating during longer runs is also very important as well as post-run recovery fueling. For recovery, your body needs some carbs and protein to refuel properly.
The main diet should be healthy and clean with lean protein, healthy carbs, healthy fats and lots of vegetables and some fruits, to maintain an overall health and proper weight to support the running performance and strength.
- Don’t let your body starve, eat some healthy snacks (nuts, fruits etc.)
- Plan your meals ahead of time. That will help organize a healthy daily diet.
- Cut out processed food, sugar and junk food.
- Try to eat more home-cooked meals.
- Hydrate and Drink Lots of Water
Being well hydrated is a crucial part of any workout program, water is vital for most of every bodily function. Adding hydration to your daily habit is a must. Build a habit of drinking lots of water, not soda or juices. The minimum amount of water to consume per day is 2L, but 2.5L is much healthier. If you run in hot weather or humidity then you need to increase the number of liters of water and add some electrolytes. Drinking enough water is also very important for healthy weight or weight loss.