As athletes we strive to be stronger runners. We are taught that increasing mileage, setting loftier goals, doing speed work, and being consistent are key to making us stronger runners. But what about being a smarter runner?
Smart runners listen to their bodies
As you run, pay attention to each little tweak and twinge throughout your body. If its subtle and goes away, it's probably nothing. But if its dull and increases to nagging, then listen. If it continues to hurt when you are done running this is your sign to take a day or two off to monitor the twinge. Missing a few runs will not make you any weaker, but an ignored injury will because it will cause you to be out for weeks or more.
Smart runners live by the books
If you have ever picked up a training plan or read running advice articles (like this one) there are a few rules that go across the board. One is the 10% rule: Only increase your weekly mileage by 10% and no more. This DOES apply to you! You are not superior to the rules and its only when you break them that you rethink what this means.
Smart runners take time off
This is still listening to your body. No good can come out of running 7 days a week. Remember, even God rested on the seventh day. If you're sick, injured, or just overtired, take a day off. You will come back stronger if you do when your body demands it.
Smart runners know how to race
All distance runners struggle finding their happy place during a race. It is incredibly difficult not to get caught up in the crowd and go out too fast. Pace yourself, start towards the back. Passing people is a great confidence booster and you won't get sucked into the 6:00 milers.
Smart runners get out of their bodies what they put in them
No matter how hot or cold it is, how far you go, or experienced you are, if you don't nourish your body with the right foods and hydration you will not be successful in your runs. Though it is possible to overhydrate (hypoatremia), its much more common to be dehydrated. Drink before you run, eat after you run and don't run hungry.
It may be time to focus on becoming a smarter runner. As you push, push, push through your next run, ask yourself if you are training to become a stronger runner or a smarter one.