Here’s an idea: trick yourself into being a better runner

This week I encourage our 5k and 10k runners to build in some changes into their running routine

Shake out your arms and let the tension drop from your shoulders and neck

Shake out your arms and let the tension drop from your shoulders and neck

 

A runner needs to train their head as well as their legs. Our attitude to running and our self-talk plays a big influence on our progress.  What we tell ourselves can impact our performance whether we are a beginner or an experienced runner. Rather than dwelling on our weaknesses, we must focus on developing a positive running mindset, even if we have to fake it initially.

Voices in our head

It’s hard to always stay optimistic on the run. We have plenty of time to think negative thoughts while counting the miles and the minutes. The voices in our head may encourage us to question our ability. Using a positive mantra which can be repeated on the move is one way to move the focus off the negative. Say it often enough and soon you will believe your tune. If you haven’t the energy to talk to yourself when running, my favourite running tip involves simply putting on a smile (even a fake one works). Try it out and notice how it lifts you up out of your glumness. We feel stronger and more confident instantly.

Anxious Runners

If you do struggle on a training run, either mentally or physically, slow your pace, even if you feel you would be quicker walking, try to relax and focus on your breathing.  Shake out your arms and let the tension drop from your shoulders and neck. Nasal breathing is also something worth checking out as many athletes are now using this as a performance enhancer as well as relaxation tool.  

Beginners Milestones

By the end of this week our beginners will be running 15 minutes non stop. That’s a long way from a one-minute run only four weeks ago. Over the first few weeks, there was a lot of clock-watching with stopping and starting so often. This can be distracting, and many runners will now find the time going quicker in these later weeks as there are fewer walk breaks. If you do fancy keeping track of your distance now that you are covering more ground, be sure to check out this week’s videos which give you all the options for technical gadgets to track your every move.

The Spice of life

Variety is the key to keeping your running interesting and it can also make you stronger. If you do the same run, at the same pace, in the same location, the body will get used to it and your training may stagnate. This week I encourage our 5k and 10k runners to build in some changes into their running routine. Initially, a simple route change can make all the difference. Running a route in reverse can help if new routes aren’t possible on these darker evenings. Try also running on different surfaces if possible; grass, sand or trail can all make a pleasant change from a footpath. Check out this week’s video where we build variety into our runs with some Swedish speedplay called Fartlek running and try out some new strength exercises to help reduce injury.

You Set the Rules

Remember that running can and should be fun. Don’t put pressure on yourself to complete the programme in eight weeks if you are feeling under pressure keeping up with the training plan. Let the programme fit in with your body and your lifestyle. Repeat each week until you can complete it comfortably. Listen to your body and advance at your own pace. Keep moving forward gradually and I’ll be back again next week to check in on progress.

Sign up for one of The Irish Times' Get Running programmes (it is free!) and Get Healthy for 2018. 
First, pick the programme that suits you.
- Beginner Course: This programme is an eight-week course that will take you from inactivity to being able to run 30 minutes non-stop.
- Stay On Track: The second programme is an eight-week course for those of you who can squeeze in a 30- to 40-minute run three times a week.
- 10km Course: This is an eight-week course designed for those who can comfortably run for 30 minutes and want to move up to the 10km mark.
Best of luck!

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