We’re literally days away from a brand new year, and an opportunity for a fresh take on our running. Whether you’ll run for fun, as part of your health and wellness plan, or you’ve got an ambitious race calendar… here are five ways to run better next year. And none of them involve running!
Take a break: For new runners, this one may sound counterintuitive. But if you’ve been running all or most of the year, now’s the perfect time to take a little time away from running. Giving your body and mind a break from the repetitive stress of running can help you come back ready and refreshed. Prioritize sleep and allow your body to recover adequately. Quality rest is crucial for optimal performance and injury prevention.
Review last year, plan for this year: Did you keep a training log or diary? Did you have fitness, health, or race goals? Did things go as planned?? During your time away from running, look back or take stock in what worked or what didn’t, to see where you can improve or make changes. If you’re winging it or not sure where and how to get to the next level, now’s a great time to explore hiring a coach or joining a training program. Both can help you set proper and achievable goals, and serve as your accountability partners in the new year.
Focus on strength and flexibility: Adding exercises that target the legs (quads, hamstrings, calves), core, and glutes can improve running efficiency and reduce the risk of injury. Include bodyweight exercises, resistance training, and functional movements in your strength training routine. Incorporate dynamic stretching and mobility exercises to improve range of motion. Yoga or Pilates are zero-impact activities that can improve flexibility, focus, and core strength.
Dial in you nutrition: Food is your fuel, and it’s no secret that proper nutrition supports overall health and energy levels. It also improves performance and speeds recovery. Pay attention to your diet, ensuring you have a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. An easy place to start is by keeping a food diary. Keep track of what you’re eating, and how it makes you feel and how it helps – or hinders – your energy and activity levels. If you have food issues or a difficult relationship with food and nutrition.
Visualize success in the new year: Like Henry Ford famously said, “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” It’s true, within reason. Most of us will never run a 4 minute mile, or a 2:05 marathon; but when applied to real, achievable goals, seeing and believing in our success is key. Practice mindfulness and mental techniques to enhance focus and reduce stress. Visualization and meditation can be valuable tools for improving mental resilience during tough runs.
Here’s to a successful new year and fast, fun, injury-free running in 2024.