Saturday, August 10, 2019

To Learn How to Run Fast, You Have to Run Fast

Going faster - It's what most, if not every runner, BMX racer, etc. aspires to. No matter how fast (or slow) you are out there, you probably always want to be faster. For the last few years of my running life, going faster was always on the list. However, other things in life always seemed to get in the way and made increasing my mile and lap times a distant blip on the horizon. The fact that I was able to remain active through a depressing time in my life a few years ago was no small feat, and I'm proud of that on its own, but emotional eating, lowered mileage and a lack of goals took its toll on my health and well-being, and that alone was enough to send my physical fitness levels soaring back to before I began running in the first place. It was frustrating to say the least, but I'm very thankful for Justyna, Tiffany, Robyn and Victoria for always being there! Good friends are a blessing.

It's been a long road to get back to where I was, and I'm still striving to be better than I was before. We learn from what we endure, and there's strength in that. Recently, I have been able to get my mile times down a full 2 minutes from what it once was, and I have several things to thank for that.
This may seem like the simplest concept, but to get faster, the only thing that will do that is to TRY harder - in essence, to try to go faster. Running those long-ish miles at your normal pace will get you good at long slow mileage, but it won't significantly decrease your mile time unless you pick it up. No one can make you go faster but you. Fast for you may not be fast for someone else, and vice versa. I've also changed my training up since I moved to Kansas, and it's definitely helping, like:

Hills - I know, I know, I've talked about hills since I got here and started training outside. They're everywhere, and I decided lately that they are my new best friend. I actually enjoy the terrain changes, and they've been doing wonders for my muscles, breathing and endurance. I began noticing that when I would do a track workout or run on flatter ground, my mile time began to creep lower and lower. If you don't have hills where you are (I lived in Houston, so I feel your (non) pain - it's flat almost everywhere), crank up that treadmill incline and keep running!
What treadmill inclines feel like sometimes! Haha!

Running Classes/Interval Training - I'm not new to running classes. I actually began taking them at a studio in Houston a year or so ago, and I was beyond excited to find a similar one with Woodway treadmills in the KC area. These classes help with my interval and training and the HIIT + Core classes also incorporate a KILLER core workout, and we know that a strong core = better running. I love these classes! KC Endurance definitely put you through the paces. Besides taking indoor running classes, I located the closest high school to our house. I run there for a mile warmup, do a simple track workout since I'm new at it, throw in some bleacher runs and head home for a mile cooldown.

Running Coaches - Running coaches are something that is just not in my budget these days, so the running classes and other classes I take through my Class Pass help a lot. There, I can get instructor help and apply it to my out of class workouts.

Shorter Miles & Higher Cadences - During the week since my runs mostly take place outside around the house (I just don't want to hit rush hour again if I don't have to, you know?), the Summer heat has me focusing more on shorter but effective mileage, so I use that for speed work. Even though the Summer can get super hot, you can still get out there and get things accomplished. Running faster also means you will get back to your house faster, and in the heat that's a plus! Just don't forget the SPF and water bottle.

Diet - Over the last few years my diet has taken a huge turn for the worst. When I was unhappy with my job in Austin I made it a habit to stress eat and pick up fast food whenever possible. Doing that once or twice isn't a bad thing, but when it became a habit I knew I had to break it. Eating empty carbs and fried, greasy food wasn't doing my body or my mind any good. Recently, I've begun eating a lot healthier and I feel so much better during the day, including maintaining a more positive mental game, and keeping positive during hard training runs is essential.

Mental Game - I briefly discussed how cleaner eating helps me maintain a more positive mental game, but it goes further than that. Maintaining a positive space is something to always work on, especially during a trying training period/workout/race. Who you surround yourself with also affects your head space, in a big way. Always strive to surround yourself with people who want to see YOU win just as much as THEY want to win. Distance yourself from toxic people and you will find it MUCH easier to maintain- and work on- a positive outlook. This includes keeping things FUN! 

So go out there, move those legs, push yourself, and you WILL be faster! Don't compare yourself to anyone else, just do it for you. Persistence and consistancy pay off. 👍😄

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