After a Decade of Running, I Swear These 3 Things Make Me a Better Runner
The first time I decided to go on a run, it wasn't pretty. If memory serves, I barely made it a quarter of a mile on my college rec center's track before calling it a day. Flash forward several years when I was a fresh face to New York and I decided to take up running as a way of escaping a very small apartment, two roommates who were strangers, and a very stressful job, and I can't say it was much better.
But after several years and a lot of determination to make running more than "that thing I hate," I became a full-on runner. I signed up for races, took on extensive training plans, and changed my whole life to make the sport a part of my everyday. Although it wasn't — and still isn't — easy, I am confident in my ability when I tell people I'm a runner. I'm even more confident that I'm actively improving myself thanks to these three tiny yet meaningful things I always do.
Thanks to a number of fitness watches, apps, and now even tracking technology built right into race-ready shoes like the UA HOVR™ Machina Running Shoes ($150), this obsession of mine is easier than ever to incorporate into training. But beyond appealing to my love of facts and figures, tracking my runs helps me analyze my work physically to help work toward specific goals. More importantly, tracking helps me become more in tune with myself. I can notice spells of regression that may help me realize I need to take a break or am en route to an injury. I can also notice times of great success that I may not have given myself credit for in the moment.
Just like with any fitness program, consistency is key. But I learned this is particularly important for improving my run game the hard way. In anticipation of my very first marathon, I neglected regular training. I assumed because I was already "fit," I could cut back on my weekly short runs and focus primarily on the longer weekend runs. And although I was able to ultimately cross the finish line, it wasn't anything to write home about. The next year when I incorporated very consistent weekly short runs, I shaved nearly 10 minutes off my time — an eternity in running. I learned that even the small runs matter because they build a consistent, strong base. Since then, I maintain a regular running schedule weekly no matter what. Whether I'm traveling or I have a race or not, keeping consistent makes me a reliable and strong runner.
Talking About Running
OK, I'll admit this may get rather annoying to those around me, but discussing my training and my races helps me hold myself accountable. When I'm answering questions about my next race, how my training is going, or what I have next on the horizon, I'm reminded that others are investing in my relationship with running. And that only strengthens my love of running even more. I never truly realize how much I enjoy running until I'm forced to explain to others what it means to me. Reaffirming my own excitement for the sport only makes me want to train harder, set new goals, and push myself to go farther.