Friday, May 8, 2015

The secrets to happier (and faster) miles

Creating balance as a runner often entails finding the right plan and making the time to stick with that plan. Ensuring a solid mental game is easily overlooked.  We asked for some advice from Runner’s World journalists and seasoned athletes, highlights of their comments are included below.

These talented runners and accomplished women will be delving further into the topic during the free expo in Mystic on Saturday, May 30 (12:00 -5:00 pm).  You don’t need to be running the event to visit the expo, more details here!

Michelle Hamilton, contributing editor, Runner’s World
In 2012, I wanted to run a personal best in the half marathon and marathon before age zapped me of the opportunity, so I examined my training program, looking for how to improve it—another 20-miler? more tempo run? It dawned on me that I’d been doing that for five years and maybe what I needed wasn’t a better training program but a different way of approaching it. 

I hired a mental-game coach and it completely changed my running (and my life really). The mental-game coach helped me see many things, but the backbone of it was shifting all of my negative thinking to positive thinking. We all know we’re supposed to do this and believe it, etc, etc but committing to it in the same way I commit to speed-work led to that personal best in the half and marathon (at age 44!).

So, for this week, try this: pay attention to your self-talk before, during and after your run. If negative thoughts arise, replace those thoughts with something positive. Repeat the positive thought a few times so it sticks! 
Research shows it takes five positive thoughts/comments to “undo” the defeating effect of a negative one.
Keep in mind that even something as innocent as “I don’t feel like running” or “That run didn’t go as planned” has a negative bent to it. Replacing it with “I want to stick to my plan” or “That run didn’t go as plan but I’m proud I got it in” can increase your motivation to run or stick to your training.

Elizabeth Comeau, editor, Zelle, Runner’s World’s women’s initiative
As a mom juggling work, child care and training, I live by the motto: Have a plan and stick to it. By “plan” I mean a weekly (or monthly) schedule that includes your training and your family life. Having a plan that combines both helps keep you focused and sane, and makes it easier to see what things might need juggling to accomplish all that you want. So, take the time to plot out your goals and schedule for the next day/week/month. Everyone’s plan will include different elements but they could be a weekly meal plan, grocery list, appointments, can’t-miss workouts, even laundry. Be committed to your plan but be sure to build in some flexibility for the unexpected.

Molly Evak, former NCAA All-American in steeplechase, now marathoner/half-marathoner and mom of one (soon to be two!)  
Pay attention to your body. Your body is a treasure trove of useful information if you learn to listen to it. Pay attention to its aches and pains; how it responds to different workouts and foods; how quickly it recovers (or doesn’t). All of this information can help you pick the training program or fine-turn the one you’re using. Other ways of reading your body: tracking your morning heart rate, doing a mental check-in with your body during and after a workout. Pay attention - get to know it and your training will improve.  

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