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Top Ten New Years Resolutions for Runners©
by Ken Mierke

The new year is finally here and it is time to start preparing for races.  So many athletes are telling themselves, “This year will be different.”   Before you get too hyped up, remember that there are many little steps that contribute to your success on race day.  Make plans right now to incorporate the following strategies into your preparation.

Resolution #1: I will train easy when I should this year.
Almost every runner conducts their long workouts and easy workouts too hard.  This is very ineffective.  Smart runners train at a very easy pace when working on endurance and very hard when it is time to go hard.  Doing easy workouts at the proper intensity leaves an athlete well-rested and enables the hard workouts to be most effective.  When working on speed, work on speed.  When working on endurance, work only on endurance and slow way down.

Resolution #2: This year I will work hard on running technique and efficiency.
Every runner trains hard to become stronger and fitter, but few pay enough attention to efficiency.  Fitness is limited by genetics, available training time, and several other factors, but efficiency is an area that holds huge potential gains.  Runners can improve efficiency by 4 to 8 percent by working specifically on technique.  This equals a minimum of 14.4 seconds per mile at 6 minute pace or 24 seconds per mile at 10 minute pace.  Those are huge gains that are unlikely through hard training alone.

Resolution #3: I will engage in strength training to improve my running.
Serious strength training has many benefits for runners, including reducing injuries, improving efficiency, and raising the resting metabolic rate.  Few runners take full advantage of it.  Done properly, strength training is an extremely time efficient workout that has great value.

Resolution #4: I will consume much more protein this year.
Giving the body the right nutrients during training, racing and recovery is critical.  Protein is the building block of the muscles, required to increase strength and for simple recovery from workouts.  Few athletes consume enough protein. Recent research has determined that hard-training athletes need significantly more than previously thought.  We recommend about 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.  Also, since your GI tract can only digest and absorb a certain amount of protein in one sitting, consume significant servings at least 4 times per day.  Breakfast is frequently the biggest culprit, with few lean sources of protein.  Be sure to get protein at breakfast.

Resolution #5: I will focus as much on mental preparation as on physical.
Working on mental skills is one of the most neglected aspects of run training. Most athletes work out to make their legs stronger, but many ignore mental strength. Focusing on mental skills is not a sign of a weak mind any more than focusing on long runs is a sign of weak legs. We train, physically or mentally, to make what is already strong even better.  Developing mental skills improves an athlete’s ability to focus on the task at hand and get the most out of the body despite the pain.  Many athletes think about anything but the effort and the pain of racing at the red line (disassociation).  Top athletes stay intensely tuned in to the pain and effort in order to constantly monitor the body’s condition, pace appropriately, and maintain efficient technique (association).

Resolution #6: I will follow an injury prevention program.
Injuries are an ever-present risk for runners.  Smart runners follow a comprehensive injury-prevention program that includes stretching, strength training, technique correction, and functional exercises to minimize the risk and severity of injuries. 

Resolution #7: I will develop and maintain a process orientation instead of a product orientation this year. 
All runners want to race fast, but there is so much more to the sport than that.  We see many athletes get so caught up in getting faster so that they can have a good race that they fail to enjoy the workouts which comprise 99% of their involvement in the sport.  Plan and train hard for your priority races, and enjoy them, but this year don’t forget to smell the roses along the way.  You might find that this is the road to that long sought PR.

Resolution #8: This year I will get guidance from a qualified coach.
Someone who spent four years studying exercise physiology knows more about how your body will respond than you do. In addition to a deeper knowledge base, a coach can be objective about your training and racing, which is impossible for the racer himself.  Help from a qualified expert will help you not only race faster, but enjoy your running experience more.

Resolution #9: I will get leaner the right way this year.
In January so many of us begin to think about how we can lose a couple of pounds of fat and be leaner than ever before.  Many rely on simply eating less, which not only does not work, but actually has the opposite effect.  This year, eat enough food, be patient and make moderate changes.  Reduce the amount of fat in your diet.  Eat concentrated carbohydrates only after workouts.  Eat a significant serving of protein at every meal.  Eat large servings of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables.

Resolution #10: I will enjoy my racing this year!!! 
Isn’t this really the most important of all?  Research shows that athletes perform their best when having fun.  Even if winning races is more important to you than having fun, science says that having fun will make you faster.  Putting a smile on your face may help as much as putting that disk wheel on your bike.


Ken Mierke, developer of Evolution Running®, author of Lean for a Lifetime: An Athlete’s Guide to Losing the Last Ten Pounds and The Triathlete’s Guide to Run Training, is a two-time world champion triathlete and a top coach.  Ken can be reached at Info@EvolutionRunning.com

 

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