Little Things That Can Lead to a Big PR

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Most runners know that you can't shortcut your way to a PR—there isn't a substitute for solid training. But after you've logged the speed workouts and conquered the long runs, you might be wondering if there's anything else you can do to get ahead. As long as your fitness is in a good place, there are some little extras you can do that just might help you run faster. If you're ready to ring the PR bell, give these tactics a try.

Massage Therapy

A good massage can speed recovery, reduce muscle soreness and even facilitate injury healing. There are many types of massage (Swedish, active release therapy, deep tissue), so different techniques may apply depending on your goals or needs. If you're prone to chronic tightness, a therapeutic massage in the midst of training may be just what you need to stay injury-free.

Foam Roll

Many runners feel that using a foam roller before runs can improve flexibility, facilitate blood circulation and increase range of motion. And if you foam roll after a run, it can help to flush waste products out of your muscles. All good things that might give you a bit of an edge on race day!

Consider Nutritional Supplements

Before embarking on supplementation, it's best practice to check in with your healthcare provider. But if you live in a northern latitude, it might be worth checking out a Vitamin D supplement to support bone health. If you're feeling more fatigued than usual, consider having your iron and B12 levels checked, especially if you're a vegetarian or a woman of childbearing age.

Think of Your Food as Fuel

There's a time and a place to indulge, but if you're gung-ho on a PR, treat your body like a Ferrari rather than a golf cart. Limit added sugars, fried foods and empty calories, and focus on high quality foods that will fuel your muscles and strengthen your immune system. Think whole grains, lean protein and plenty of produce!

Take a Break From Alcohol

There's nothing wrong with a glass of wine here and there, but if your nightcaps are leaving you sluggish for morning runs, it might be time to consider a hiatus. Alcohol can be dehydrating and adds empty calories, so swapping out a daily beer for a tasty mocktail might pave the way for a PR. 

Practice Visualization

Mental training is almost as important as logging the miles, so getting your head in a good place can truly make or break race day. In tough runs leading up to the race visualize how you will tackle tired legs or various weather conditions. Plan out your race day outfit—what will you wear if it's warm and rainy or cold and windy? What things can you do to make race day a success, regardless of roadblocks? And finally, consider coming up with a list of mantras for when your motivation lags. A simple phrase can help you stay focused when your body gets tired.

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About the Author

Megan Harrington

Megan is a writer and RRCA certified running coach who lives and trains in rural upstate New York. She ran track and cross-country competitively in high school and college and now focuses on the half-marathon and marathon distance. When she's not running, Megan enjoys coaching fellow runners (www.runnerskitchen.com), snow-shoeing, hiking and digging around in her garden.
Megan is a writer and RRCA certified running coach who lives and trains in rural upstate New York. She ran track and cross-country competitively in high school and college and now focuses on the half-marathon and marathon distance. When she's not running, Megan enjoys coaching fellow runners (www.runnerskitchen.com), snow-shoeing, hiking and digging around in her garden.

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