20. Stay flexible. We like that word—it has so many important meanings. Here, we're talking about a regular stretching program to keep your legs limber and injury-free. Or yoga and Pilates routines, both of which are enjoying a huge surge in popularity. Pick the approach that works best for you. You need to prevent injuries if you want to improve your training consistency.
21. Run before you get home. If you can't run in the morning or at lunch, at least try to run before you get home from work. Stop at a favorite park or trail on your way home from the office, and do a workout there. Or arrange to meet some friends for a run at 5:30 p.m. Once you're at home, it's hard to get out the door again for a workout.
22. Stay hydrated. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Get plenty of sleep. We know: You've heard all this stuff before. Okay, we'll stop. But just remember that the simplest, most basic advice often makes the biggest contribution to improved consistency.
23. Adopt a runner. Sometimes, the most motivating and rewarding thing you can do is to reach out to someone else. It could be someone close: at work or even in your family. Or your club might receive occasional calls from new runners, or those who want to begin. Offer to help. Beginners don't need a mentor with a Ph.D. They need encouragement, a personal connection, and the kind of basic training, nutrition, and injury-prevention experience you already possess.
24. Start a running streak. We don't mean that you should run every day like. In fact, we don't advise that for most runners. But we like the idea of running the same road race every year, like Jack Kirk, who has completed the Dipsea Race in Mill Valley, Calif., for 67 years in a row. Or you could run one marathon a year, every year. Or you could "collect" states by racing in a different state every year.
25. Join an online community. Many running Web sites, including ours, have forums or message boards where runners exchange information, opinions, and greetings that develop into digital friendships. Often, these blossom into "encounters," where the online friends agree to meet at a particular race. Along the way, they encourage each other's training, and lend a sympathetic ear when that's what you need most.
More: 4 Tips for Group Runs
26. Establish a pre-run routine. You warm up at the start of a race, and at the beginning of a workout, but it's also helpful to warm up for your warmup, so to speak. Follow a routine. Sixty minutes before your run, reach for a bottle of sports drink. At run-minus-30, get up and take a 3-minute stroll to loosen the legs. At run-minus-10, listen to a favorite psych-up song. Include any other short activities that work for you. Psychologists say these routines help us develop the healthy patterns we want.
27. Don't obsess about it. Hey, we wish every day went as planned, and every run fit perfectly into the scheme of things. But stuff happens. Life has a way of playing tricks on all of us, both the unexpectedly happy variety and that other kind. Don't worry about the runs you miss. Sometimes the best advice is simply to run with a smile on your face, and to enjoy and appreciate every workout. Come to think of it, that's always the best advice.
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