Developing good habits provides many benefits to your running. Starting each week on a positive note is critical to a productive week. Sunday’s are typically a rest and family day for most runners following their long Saturday run. But you can’t completely disengage from the training mindset.
You still need to prepare for your upcoming training week so you can’t abandon discipline and focus altogether. Eating well, staying hydrated and receiving adequate rest should be omnipresent every day of the week. Sure, you can indulge in some of the things you deprive yourself of during the week; but moderation should reign supreme.
Setting your running things out on Sunday is a good starting point. Planning your pre-run meal establishes a training mindset that doesn’t have to be jump started if you completely abandon your focus upon the completion of your training run on Saturday.
Getting a good nutritional start each day with a well-balanced breakfast minimizes the chances of low-blood sugar and major indulgences in foods with high sugar or fat content later in the day. Eating every two hours will also sustain your blood-sugar and minimize these indulgences. Another good habit is not to eat too late in the day. I try to limit my carbohydrate intake after 7:00 p.m.
I recently mentioned the importance of a post-run routine (e.g., changing into warm comfortable clothes, using the stick, foam roller and stretching, eating within 30-60 minutes, taking an ice bath etc.) that will also pay huge dividends in all aspects of your running. Years of running can make you muscles tighten and contract, which places more stress on your tendons and ligaments. Increasing flexibility in and around the areas that runners typically experience tightening, particularly hamstrings and calves, reduces the likelihood of an injury.
Just as beginning each day with a well-balanced breakfast is a good habit, so is beginning each week with a well planned and strategic run. I have always accepted the reality that the first mile of every run is going to be the most difficult so I decrease my pace by nearly 2 minutes than I expect to average for the remaining miles. This gradual decrease in pace allows my heart to gradually pump blood/oxygen to my major muscles. I also focus on my running efficiency and breathing so that I develop a rhythm to each run.
I also focus on the mental aspect of every run. I expect the demons of doubt to join during the first mile of every run. So I focus on why completing every run is important. If you’re training for Boston, you simply need to think about April 18, 2011 and the importance of arriving at the starting line in the best possible physical shape and mental state. And if you’re a charity runner you need no greater reminder than the funds that you are raising, which are so closely connected to your running, are making a considerable difference in the lives of others!
Running can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Developing good habits will allow you to keep it simple, reduce injuries and maximize the enjoyment of your running!