If you want to be a better runner this year, you can't train the same as you did last year. Something in the way you prepare yourself for races has to change, or else your results will not. Of course, this change should not be arbitrary. Rather, it should specifically address a limiting factor in your running performance. Got any ideas? If not, don't worry. The following five ideas suggest new things to try with your training this year. Have a look at each of them and then pick your favorite, or favorites.
Set a Mileage Personal Best
The simplest way to improve as a runner is to run more. Recreational runners often don't like to hear this because they feel they barely have enough time to fit in the running they're already doing. But my job is not to balance your busy schedule—it's to help you become a better runner! And increasing your average weekly running mileage even a little bit will make you a better runner by boosting your fatigue resistance and running skill.
Instead of focusing entirely on setting new personal records in races next year, set a separate goal to break your existing PR's for training mileage. If you've never run more than 40 miles in a week, go for 50. If the greatest number of miles you ran in one month this year was 142, aim for 160. Just be sure to execute these increases gradually.
"Polarize" Your Training
The concept of "polarized" training is relatively new but is quickly gaining traction. It entails doing most of your training (about 80 percent) at low intensity, most of the remaining 20 percent at high intensity and only a small amount at moderate intensity. This is what a majority of elite runners do, but the average recreational runner spends almost half of his or her total training time stuck in what I call the "moderate-intensity rut."