January 1st is right around the corner and everyone is making their New Year resolutions. Instead of paying penance for your holiday indulgences with a diet of carrot sticks and celery, I have a better idea. How about a New Year Race-olution?
Now this is a resolution I can get behind. Whether you are an experienced racer or a newbie wanting to tackle your first race, here are five ways to better race in 2017.
1. SIGN UP FOR A RACE AND SET A GOAL
Choosing a race that is 3-6 months in the future goes a long way in staying motivated to work out well into 2017, when most people's resolutions will be collecting dust along side their exercise equipment.
Choose a race distance that is challenging enough to keep you motivated to train, but not so outside of your scope of experience and abilities that you set yourself up for failure. You should aim high with your goals though, with the proper training and guidance you can do more than you think!
2. DO SPEED WORK
If you want to run a better race in 2017, you'll need to start by logging those training miles. Once you have a solid running base of running three to four days a week for four to five weeks it's time to start speed work, which will be a key element to achieving a better race in 2017. If you want to run faster, you need to train to run faster. Hill repeats, track work, stairs and Fartleks can all be effective ways to build speed. Aim for a speed session once or twice a week.
3. DON'T NEGLECT CROSS TRAINING
Low impact cross training is good way to increase your endurance base without adding additional stress on your joints. Activities like biking, swimming, hiking, rowing, walking or the elliptical are all great cross training choices for non-running days.
While it may be tempting to adopt an all-running-all-the-time training plan, the smartest use of your workout schedule could be to carve out some time for some strength training. A lot of runners neglect the strength portion of training, but it is vital to getting stronger and staying injury free. Stronger legs just may bring you across the finish line at a faster pace. Aim for full body strength training session at least two times a week. There are plenty of quick and effective strength workouts in the archive.
4. BE FLEXIBLE AND REST
Yoga is a great cross training activity that can benefit runners, but when I say flexible I am referring to your training plan. It will be easy to put together an aggressive training plan, then get burnt out, or worse, injured before you have the chance to meet your race goals for 2017. Listen to your body. Take rest days. Take as many as you need. Push through those hard runs, push through feeling uncomfortable, push through laziness but never ever push through pain or injury.
A few days off from running or even a week off (if necessary) for recovery is just a blip in your overall training plan. Remember that it is during rest that your body is recovering and getting stronger! Rest is an important part of the equation. Train smart and schedule those rest days for a better race in 2017.
5. FIND A TRAINING PARTNER AND HAVE FUN
Long after the excitement of signing up for a race has faded, you will still need to be training in order to achieve your race-olution. One way to keep it fun and motivating is to find a running partner or sign up for training with an organized group. Joining a running group or boot camp can be a excellent way to get expert advice from a running coach and make some new running friends.
I am looking forward to achieving my New Year's Race-olution. I'll be running a better race in 2017. How about you? Are you missing any of these in your training plan? Are you ready to make a New Year's Race-olution? Let me know in the comments.
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I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in the Shredshed, online training and Fit to Run bootcamps. If you are interested in a more in-depth running or strength training plan, please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help.
While I am a certified personal trainer, I am not your personal trainer. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. This is an opinion blog. No information in this blog is intended to be taken as medical advice or prescription. Please see your doctor and/or registered dietitian for any health concerns.