27 Ways to Run Better Every Day

Mark Covert doesn't have to think about his run today. It's a given; he's going to do it. After running for 12,480 days in a row (through September 30, 2002), Covert isn't about to miss today. Or tomorrow. Or the day after.

You, however, probably need a plan for today's workout. Without a plan, it's just too easy to skip a run. You've got pressures in the office, errands to do, classes to take, things to deal with at home.

And more. Always more. Which makes it tough to put together a consistent training program.

More: Stay Motivated on Your Runs

Yet consistency is the most essential piece of every training program. It's the one thing—perhaps the only one—that every coach, physiologist, and medical expert agrees on.

Without consistency, you aren't going anywhere. You're not going to get faster. You're not going to run farther. You're not going to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, finish that marathon, or achieve your other running goals.

With a consistent training program, on the other hand, the sky's the limit. You'll feel better and run better every day. So let's get with it. Here are 27 ways to add more consistency to your running.

More: 10 Steps to Start Running

1. Run with others. To make sure you do a workout, there's nothing like the social pressure of knowing someone else (or a group) is waiting for you. Bonus: It's often more fun than running alone, especially if you're doing a long run, or a speed workout on the track.

2. Try something new. The fitness world is full of new and fun-filled events, and they don't all require a 3-week trip to Borneo and a survivor diet of grubs and lizards. Don't let yourself get bored with an endless string of 5K and 10K races. Cary Stephens, an attorney in Corvallis, Oreg., found himself drawn to "scrambles," an off-road running adventure. (To learn more, visit www.bigredlizard.com.)

3. Run like a tortoise. We can't lie to you. This isn't a sport of instant success and miracle shortcuts. Patience pays off, often in a very big way. At the beginning of a marathon training program, many participants can't imagine themselves running more than 5 miles. Twelve to 16 weeks later, voil?: the cheering crowd and unbelievable exhilaration of reaching a marathon finish line. Stick with the program. Repeat: Stick with the program. Prepare to be amazed.

More: Marathon Tips for Newbies

4. Take a break. To every thing, there is a season. You don't have to run every day, every week, or even every month. Many top runners visualize their training year as a mountain range. It has peaks and valleys—recovery periods when they let their running taper off, so that they can build all the higher in their next training period. For healthy, consistent training, your body needs regular—that is, weekly, seasonal, and annual—recovery periods.

5. Eat a healthy breakfast. We can't emphasize this one enough. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it fuels you for the entire day. To skip breakfast or eat a skimpy one is like failing to rehydrate and refuel after a marathon. You wouldn't do that, would you? Well, your night's sleep is like a marathon to your body, because you don't get any fuel while you're sleeping. So carbo-load at breakfast. And add a little protein.

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