Here’s a fun fact: The distance between running champions who win races and recreational runners who follow behind them isn’t as wide as you might think.
It’s highly likely for recreational runners to eliminate this gap by making basic changes to their lifestyle and training habits. While investing in a product that can boost your efficiency is definitely a plus, it’s equally crucial to learn how to sleep, eat right, wake, train, recharge, and work to take your training to the next level.
Now, we aren’t saying that making a change in your running lifestyle is easy, but all the efforts are worth it since the payoff is huge.
In this article, we’ll discuss the secrets of how you can run like a pro to become the next racing champion. So, let’s start right away!
Taking rest is just as important as training
There is a common misconception where people believe that pro runners are always training for insane hours every day, which is why they take the first position. While training is definitely a vital aspect of optimizing your run, recovery is just as important.
According to Rachel Schneider, a professional middle-distance runner and nine times All-American in track, recovery should be taken seriously. “It’s an essential part of the training,” she says.
“The training process has best been described to me as: ‘Stress plus rest equals success,’“ adds Zaka Marion, who is a 100-mile ultra champion and is also a running coach in Salt Lake City.
You see, when you practice for days in a row, you can put a lot of undue stress on our body, especially, because we force the activity to create a psychological response.
Instead, you should work on creating a good routine – one that includes practicing, getting an adequate amount of sleep, and taking the necessary rest days off. This will then promote the overall efficiency of the training program, helping you become a better runner. This can also boost your muscle growth.
Taking one day off every week is another tip that Marion preaches. There is nothing to feel ashamed of when you feel like taking rest; you should rest as much as you need.
Getting the fuelling right
Pro runners should have a deliberate and systematic approach to fuel – some may use energy gels, some may drink sugary liquids. In fact, running champs fuel every 30 to 40 minutes during a race to saturate their blood with glucose, which in turn, helps them run faster.
It’s important to practice fuel before every event. More so because high-intensity workouts or races put our stomach under stress, making it hard to keep the food down. Additionally, you can use aid stations to fuel as well – ones that are usually found on the course.
We would also suggest working on your “run and grab“ to ensure grabbing and drinking from the paper cups doesn’t let you lose distance during the race.
Understand the art of pacing – but just a bit
Recreational runners often have a tendency to hit the goal pace right away. What they don’t realize is running all out will slow you down considerably within a short span of time, especially if you are running longer races.
Caitlin Gregg Goodman, an elite runner, and coach in Providence, Rhode Island, won accolades when she completed a 5K run at 15:29. Her winning mantra? “‘Calm and controlled’ for the first mile.“
As for the second mile, try to be closer to your goal pace, but the effort level here should always be higher. Goodman suggests, “Do a body scan and say, ‘Alright, where am I at? It’s hurting, but it’s supposed to if I‘m on the track to reach that ambitious goal.’”
The author of Run Like A Champion, coach Alan Culpepper also points out how your exact pace at a given effort level will always vary depending on the course. Hence, it’s important for you to study the profile of your goal 5K and try to memorize whenever you turn corners.
Culpepper is also a two-time Olympian who completed 5K in just 13: 25.6.
Try to run as far as you can
According to Jason Karp, Ph.D., author of Run Your Fat Off, and professional runner and coach, “If you want to become a better distance runner, the number of miles you run each week is the most important component of your time.”
That being said, it’s true that the more distance you run, the harder you will be exerting your body. But, at the same time, covering miles can help accelerate physiological, biochemical, and molecular adaptation stimulation as well, which is what makes it so crucial.
“One of the initial adaptations is an increase in your blood volume, which means more red blood cells transporting oxygen,” continues Karp.
For those of you who aren’t aware, the increase of RBCs translates to higher energy levels, and more energy means more miles coverage and more runs.
Become your own cheerleader
In addition to working on their physical strength, pro runners work equally hard at keeping themselves mentally fit.
Kona Ironman, the author of The Marathon Method,has emphasized on how your thoughts directly affect your performance. Hence, it’s crucial to use “positive self-talk and mantras” as a method to optimize your runs. Statements like “I am ready“ and “Everything will be nice and easy“ can be effective ways to boost your performance.
Having fun is also important. “Always remind yourself why you are doing it,“ adds Scheider. After all, rough days will always be there, so it’s best to make the good days as better as you can.
Following the above tips will help you position yourself as a better runner, bringing you closer to your dream of becoming a pro runner.
While you can always figure out your own hacks along your journey, one thing that you should never compromise on is your dedication towards improving yourself.
A sure-shot way to become a champion is to constantly work towards achieving your goals, ticking off benchmarks. Start with getting at least eight hours of sleep, eat right to keep your body healthy, practice positivity and optimism, and of course, keep running!