Monday, November 10, 2014

10 Ways to Become a Better Runner (Part 2)

Hey everyone!  I hope that you all had a great week of training/racing.  For myself, as well as the rest of the New Jersey-New York Track Club, we are grinding away at our Fall training.  It's definitely one of the tougher parts of the year as we whip ourselves into shape.  Racing season can't come soon enough!

Last week I started my list of 10 ways to become a better runner.  I got some great feedback, so thank you!  I'm glad that what I'm blogging about is interesting and helpful to some of you.  If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me at  Here is the remainder of my list!

5. Develop a strong coach/athlete relationship
This goes hand-in-hand with putting yourself in a good environment.  Working with your coach is crucial to success.  There needs to be a positive relationship where you and your coach are able to communicate back and forth about training and racing.  Many times, coaches work with multiple athletes and are unable to micromanage each athlete.  You, as the athlete, are responsible for letting your coach know how you are feeling.  Coach Gags and I talk multiple times a week about every little detail that goes into my training.  We go over workouts for the week and remind each other of our "big picture" goals.  It make me feel secure as an athlete that I have a say in my training and I know that my coach is on the same page.

4. Get out of your comfort zone
In order to reach that "next level," athletes need to simply get out of their comfort zone.  Pushing yourself to a new limit is what this sport is all about.  If you're used to running comfortable mileage a few days a week as you train for your first half marathon, think about doing some one minute intervals where you pick up the pace for a minute and rest for a minute.  You'll be amazed at what the human body is capable of and how much a few simple workouts can improve your fitness drastically.  As an athlete, I know that there are some times where running until I puke is the best thing for me.  That my sound a little crazy, but I know it's what I need to do from time to time, to get to the next level.

3. Learn to use all recovery modalities
Recovery tools are an athlete's best friend.  They help decrease the risk of injury as well as allow us to train and compete at a high level.  Every day, you should do something to help your body recover.  It can be as simple as taking 10 minutes to stretch or as complex as getting work done by a licensed physiotherapist.  There are many ways to help your body recover.  Don't be afraid to try something different to find out what works best for you.  My go-to recovery tools are foam rollers and ice baths.  They have worked best for me to stay healthy and ready to go every day.

2. Set Goals
This can be one of the easiest things for athletes to do.  Write down your goals, both short-term and long-term.  Whether it is to complete your first 5k, set a personal best in your next race, or qualify for the Olympics, it is beneficial to write these goals down to remind yourself why you are training.  It can be boring and tiresome during certain times of the year when training is tough and racing is months down the road, but your goals can light that fire within you again.  Post these goals on sticky notes and post them in places that you frequently look at.  For example, your bathroom mirror, on your fridge, or on the dashboard of your car.

1. Use Performance Enhancers
Yes.  You read it right.  I encourage and condone the use of performance enhancers.  I take them every day.  However, I have not, do not, and will not ever take illegal performance enhancers.  Every day I take a multivitamin which might not sound like much, but tapping out my blood levels with essential vitamins and minerals allows me to train at a high level and stay healthy.  A performance enhancer that we are all familiar with is water.  According to a study conducted in 1985, running performance can be negatively affected by dehydration with as little as a 1.6% loss of body weight*.  If you're not a math major, that can be a huge difference between bringing home the victory and settling for something less.  Another proven performance enhancer that is often seen at track meets is caffeine.  Athletes like the boost that it gives them before competitions and many feel that it truly helps them perform at their best.  Recently RunGum hit the market and it provides caffeine, taurine, and B-vitamins to provide the boost that athletes prefer before training and competitions**.  I plan on trying some for myself in the near future!

One thing that I do want to make clear is my disgust and lack of respect for athletes that do try to use illegal performance enhancers to gain an advantage on their competition.  I understand that at a certain level, this is a business and I don't think that we will ever eliminate drug cheats from the sport.  But I will make sure that I do my part and never take illegal performance enhancers.  I respect myself and my sport, and will continue to stay free of illegal drugs for my entire career.

I hope that these 10 tips have helped you all!  These are all things that I have learned about and implemented into my training over the course of my career.  I feel that each of them helped me in one way or another.  Check out last week's training below and stop by next week for a new post!

Week of November 3-9
8 mile recovery run
Weightlifting session

9 mile run w/ Drills and Strides

AM: 5 mile tempo@5:15/mile
PM: Upper body lift
6x150m hills
Mileage: 14.5

9 mile recovery run

2x(300, 300, 300, 600)
Weightlifting Session
Mileage: 8

15 mile long run

6.5 mile recovery run
Drills and Strides

Total Mileage: 70

For questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post below or email me directly at!

*Article referenced above can be found here
**RunGum website can be found here

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