How To Run Faster With Purpose, Perspective and Perception
When it comes to training there is no shortcut to success. You have to do the work. And you need to follow a plan that is structured and focused. One that is tailored to your ability and the reality of the time you can contribute.
But there are three things you can do to facilitate your success. Three steps you can take that will increase your performance. I like to call them the three P’s.
Everything in life has a purpose. The same is true with running and training. When you have a structured schedule, each day has a goal. Even rest days. Some days are focused on increasing your long run. Others on increasing your pace.
Speed work cannot be done every day. For many, one day a week is the most frequency our bodies can handle. Hills are important workouts, but too many of them lead to injury. It all comes down to balance. Maximizing the benefits through frequency without causing injury.
Recovery days are as important as all other workouts. Yet we often fail to recognize that. We often look at recovery days as lot opportunity to improve our performance. A day that is somewhat wasted. I mean, what do you really get from a recovery day? For more, please read Improving Post Run Recovery.
Without recovery days, you’ll never make it through training. You’ll never allow your body to heal and rebuild. It’s the reason we spend 25% of our time on this earth asleep. Our bodies need rest. They need to rejuvenate, rebuild, refresh. Absent rest, we are on a destructive path. One that does not lead us to our goals.
So when it comes to purpose you have to ask yourself one question each day. Before you lace up your running shoes ask yourself “what is the purpose of today’s workout.” If you cannot answer that question then don’t “lace em up.” Answer that question first.
And once you do have that answer stay focused. Do not turn a recovery day into a speed workout because the weather is nice. Or because someone is trying to pass you on the roads. Stay focused on the task at hand. On the long term goal.
Who has felt fatigue half way through a race? And questioned how you will finish. Whether it’s a 5K or 50K, we all go through a period where we simply question whether or not we can finish. Take the marathon as an example.
At the halfway point you are tired. And you may say to yourself, “how am I going to run another 13.1 miles.” You are exhausted. Your body aches. Muscles are sore. You’re in a deep valley and somehow have to muster the strength to reach the goal.
Rather than letting that moment become a liability apply some perspective. Shouldn’t you have some fatigue? After all you did just run 13.1 miles. Of course you should.
Maybe your goal 5K is 21 minutes. You normally log all your miles at 8 minute pace. You just ran a 7 minute mile and feel a little fatigue. Well you should. It’s normal behavior. To learn more about running a 5K, please read Best Training For Running a 5K or 10K.
Accept the reality of what you have done so far. Put it in perspective. Don’t ask, how can I run another 13.1 miles. Rather say to yourself, “sure I’m tired, but I just ran 13.1 miles. I’ve trained for this. I’ve done the work.”
It’s so easy to lose perspective during a race or training. To feel all alone. To feel as though we are the only ones suffering. That everyone else feels just fine. Wrong. We are all suffering. Keep perspective on what you have done, how you feel and the road before you.
The last p is perception. How we perceive ourselves. Our abilities. For some strange reason, our minds do not want us to achieve our true potential. That little voice inside our head tries to talk us down. It’s the part of our brain focused on risk. On maintaining our security.
It fears venturing into the unknown. It is simply trying to keep us safe. And the more we push into the unknown, the louder it speaks. Telling us mean things like “you’re not a runner” or “there’s no way you can do this race.”
Accept why this voice is trying to hold you back. Accept the reality that we are all greater than that controlling voice wants us to be. I’ve heard so many new runners say “I’m not a runner.” Well newsflash. If you have both feet in the air at one time, you’re a runner. There is always someone faster than you and slower than you.
As runners we need to bask in the joy of past achievements. Think of the obstacles you overcame. Whether it was taking those first steps or struggling through an injury. A race where you smashed a new PR or ran further than you ever thought possible.
Those reflections build confidence. They improve our perception of who we are, where we’ve come from and where we can go.
Purpose, Perspective, Perception
The three “P’s” offer no shortcut. But they are an integral component of our success. Whether our goal is to run a distance we never ran before, stay healthy or set a new PR, they will help you along your journey.