“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”
-George S. Patton
Let's be honest: You can always come up with a reason not to lace up the shoes and go for run, especially in the fall. David Goggins, professional marathon runner and Navy Seal says, "Self talk and visualization are the keys to fighting negativity."
What kind of athlete do you envision yourself as?
You don't have to play a professional sport to be an athlete. If you run, hike, climb, etc. anything to keep active... by definition you are an athlete. So I ask again, when it gets tough, what does your vision and goals look like? Without reviewing what it is that drives you it's easy to let the excuses pile up: it's too cold; I have no time; I hurt my toe or knee. And it seems that, for many people, finding an excuse not to take up running is even easier. But don't give in to the obstacles.
(Photo courtesy of Pinterest)
The easiest way to get better at running, especially trail running where the terrain will differ, is to just do it. Run as often as you can and vary the intensity. With the right preparation, you can meet and conquer each goal. Here are a few tips you should consider the next time you're thinking about heading out for a trail run.
1. Set up a framework for long-term consistency.
The total number of runs an athlete does over time is among the most important variables for predicting performance. Consistency is essential because it reinforces neuromuscular, biomechanical and aerobic adaptations that make running easier by reducing the amount of energy it takes to go a given pace, thus improving running economy. Simply, the more you run, the stronger your "slow-twitch" muscles get making it more easy to cover distances without using as much oxygen (hence running economy). Sometimes, runners focus so much on volume or long runs that they lose sight of frequency, and that could be leaving some big gains on the table.
Just get out and run! Work up to running three to five days a week prior to worrying too much about overall volume and intensity. David Goggins is known to record his workouts, run times and distances. This technique can help keep you accountable. Determine how many miles you want to run in a week, 10 miles for example, and divide that into 3, 4 or 5 days.
Important note: Consistency requires health, so never run through injuries. But you may find that running more often counter-intuitively makes you less injury prone, letting you explore what your body can do. The body adapts to consistent stimuli, so give it the prod it needs.
2. Keep it simple, learn to run slow.
A run doesn’t have to be long, even 20 minutes is plenty enough of a solid run. Everyone can spare 20 minutes. Pacing is important, the more you run, the easier it may be to slip into same-pace running. There will be a time for adjustments, however, for new trail runners, or runners in general, let your body adapt accordingly. Trail Runner suggests "The key is to make sure your easy pace is truly easy for your body. At the simplest, you can use the talk test. Can you rap like André 3000 (or Lafayette’s verses from Hamilton) while running easy? Then you got it right...Keeping easy truly easy will let you run more consistently and gradually increase volume which will enhance aerobic adaptations" (Roche, 2018).
(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)
3. Do Smart Workouts.
Building good running economy should be first priority. The ultimate goal for many runners though is that they want to run hard and fast - in order to test themselves or compete. In an effort to reach your best levels and time, you need to vary your workouts between strength training, interval running, hill training, and long, slow, steady runs. You need to push yourself in training, so that when race day comes, you've already been through the effort needed to eclipse the pressure.
A few solid leg workouts include: walking lunges, body weight squats, leg press/extension, barbell squat and deadlift. For beginners, stick to the standard regime: 3-4 sets for eight reps. If eight reps is easy, increase the amount of reps for maximum burn. This will tone your muscles; the goal is endurance not a huge physique.
A workout that I do that incorporates leg training and cardio is as follows:
1. Run for a total of 2 miles.
2. Every .5 mile, stop and do this set:
Trust me, you will feel it, feel empowered, and become a better runner.
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