Want to improve your running game? Add these items to your daily to-do list.
They Keep a Running Log1 of 11
There's nothing more motivating than recording—and then looking back on—a successful workout or long run. But even if a run doesn't go as planned, keeping track of the details can still be helpful as you figure out what exactly went wrong and how to make improvements for future runs. A log can be as fancy or low-tech as you want—as long as it works for you.
They Schedule Runs Like Meetings2 of 11
Even if it's just a hobby, top runners treat their runs like important appointments. They plan out runs in advance and always assign them a prime spot on their calendar. Slotting time for training will make you less likely to skip it.
They Prioritize Fuel3 of 11
Even if they only have 10 minutes between a run and the next thing on their to-do list, the best runners don't let fueling fall by the wayside. They make sure to stay hydrated and consume a mix of quality carbs and protein after every workout.
Try some Greek yogurt and fruit or a small turkey sandwich after your next run.
They Tap into a Support Network4 of 11
Whether it's an online message board or a running buddy down the street, successful runners take steps to gather support when motivation or energy lags. Having trouble avoiding the snooze button? A morning running partner will make sure you get out of bed.
And while in-person accountability is best, a text or phone call from a faraway friend can also do the trick.
They Make Room for Rest5 of 11
No matter how serious they are about training, the best runners also know the value of rest days. Allowing muscles a chance to recover is the key to getting stronger and avoiding injury.
Schedule an active recovery—or just a pure recovery—day at least once a week.
They Switch Things Up6 of 11
Sure, they have a tried and true 5-mile loop, but rather than doing the same old routes every day, the best runners work to keep things fresh. Some runs are tough and hilly; others are easy and on soft surfaces. By changing up each run, they keep boredom at bay.
Top runners also prioritize strength training and cross-training—even if it's just a few minutes a day.
They Give Each Run a Purpose7 of 11
When training for a race, long runs, speedwork and recovery runs all have a spot in the plan. Top runners avoid "junk miles" by giving each run a specific reason (for example, speed or endurance). But sometimes a run's only purpose is to have fun or de-stress—and that's okay!
They Keep Track of Their Shoes8 of 11
The best runners take note of when they get new running shoes—and when it's time to replace them. Most runners aim to buy new kicks every 500 miles or so, but that number depends on the individual.
Take a look at your shoes every so often. Is the tread wearing down? Are you getting aches in your feet and knees that weren't there before? It may be time to spring for a new pair.
They Have a Backup Plan9 of 11
Even with a solid training plan and a spot on the calendar, sometimes even the most dedicated runners miss a run. If they oversleep the morning of a long run or have to work late and miss a tempo, they have a back-up plan.
Whether it's shortening the run or moving it to another day or time, they stay flexible and do the best they can.
They Remember Why They Run10 of 11
At the end of the day, running should be a source of joy, not stress.
Races may hurt and training takes hard work, but in a world of musts and shoulds, running is something we choose to do. Don't forget to have fun!