Olympian Kara Goucher's Top Running Tips

Go the Hard Way
When there are two options for getting home—one flat, the other hillier—get in the habit of taking the hilly option.

Have a Key Word
Use your key word when things get tough during a run. Or use it before your run if you don't feel like heading out. Say it to yourself, mantra-like. A word I used during a really tough time in my career was fighter. That was what resonated for me, and it worked.

Keep Training
Okay, I hate cross-training, but it beats sitting around, getting depressed, and falling out of shape when I'm injured. Swimming, aqua jogging, and the elliptical help you return to running fitter.

More: Cross-Training Tips for Runners

Watch a Race...
I guarantee this will get you psyched about running. Seriously, it can be so moving. The finish line and top of hills are good spots for seeing pure emotion.

...Then Sign Up
Register for a local 5K. Races serve as great motivators, they give your training a tangible purpose, and they provide camaraderie before and during the event. Even if you think you are too "slow," trust me, you won't finish last.

Your First Race

Drive the Course
Pay attention to hills, turns, mile markers, and road surface. Construct a game plan, then visualize it.

Revel in Anxiety
Battling nerves before a race is not fun. (Believe me, I've been there.) Embrace the feeling; it's part of being a runner.

More: 5 Ways to Beat Anxiety on Race Day

Focus on Yourself
If you think about other runners, you'll end up thinking, She looks faster than me. Keep things inner directed. Be aware of others, but keep yourself front and center.

Go Faster Each Mile
Start conservatively, and gradually increase your speed through the last mile. You'll feel great after your fast finish.

Count
When you're struggling, count your steps to 100, then start over. This helps take your mind off your troubles.

Finish Strong
Whether you're racing or doing a long run, pick it up the last mile. If it's a speed or hill session, do that last repetition hard. This habit builds confidence for running—and life!

More: Your Guide to Finish Strong on Race Day

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