I can’t believe it’s already the final week of my Improve Your Running series. I really hope it has helped you and given you some ideas of things to try out as well as some encouragement that small things done repeatedly can make a big difference. This last tip isn’t to do with running directly but it is crucial if you want to make progress in your running. And that is to always look at the big picture. This could be the missing piece in your running puzzle.

Do you get back from a run and look at your time and distance and immediately compare it to the last time you did that run? Maybe you’re looking at segments on Strava, comparing with others or looking at your VO2 max on Garmin. You could just be going on feeling and knowing you felt worse than when you last ran that route. Whatever it is, it’s easy to get disheartened when you feel you don’t match up. The truth is that every run is different and a lot depends on what else is going on in life. You aren’t just going to get faster and better every time. You should expect to have some dips as well as peaks.

Tips for getting the big picture right.

Your body is amazing, your scope to improve is so great. But, you need to look after it in order to succeed. To really improve your running, alongside your training plan you need to have ticks beside each of the following:

Rest days – when you rest is when you get fitter. That is when your body restores, repairs and re-inforces itself. Skimp on the rest and you’ll literally run yourself into the ground without seeing any progress. How many rest days you need depends on a lot of factors such as your age, running experience and general health. I wrote a blog about it and you can read it here.

Recovery – you might have taken your usual rest day but have you recovered? Do you feel ready to run again? Sometimes, especially if you have a niggle, it’s better to wait a bit longer or do an easier session than planned. You’ll gain more from it than pushing too hard too soon.

Sleep – rest is rest but sleep is better. It’s a truly restorative state. If you’re training hard and pushing yourself in sessions to try to improve then you’re going to be more tired and need a bit more shut eye. Sleep deprivation will always catch up with you at some point.

Nutrition – don’t put enough fuel in your car or put the wrong stuff in (yes, I have put petrol in my diesel car before) and your car will break down. It’s easy to underestimate how much you need to eat and if you’re cranking up your training, you’ll need to eat more (and eat at the right times) to fuel your extra activities. You can unintentionally slip into energy deficiency which can have wide reaching effects on your body, including falling performance. Make good choices and don’t go hungry.

Stress – what’s going on in the rest of your life can impact your running. If you’ve had a nightmare day at work, if family stresses are wearing you down, then how can you expect your body to have the energy to also be at your running peak. Of course, we can’t get rid of all these things easily but identifying them, improving what we can, being kind to ourselves and not adding additional pressure is important.

Well that’s it! Those are my tips for improving your running. If you missed the others, here’s a quick recap with links to the blogs:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Discomfort
  3. Hills
  4. Breathing
  5. Mixing
  6. Others
  7. Consistency
  8. Big Picture

I really hope you’ve enjoyed the series. Do let me know which tips you found most helpful and if you’ve seen an improvement in your running by following them then I would LOVE to hear about it. Leave me a comment here or on social media.

If you’d like to learn more from me then check out my books, Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health and Run Well: Essential health questions and answers for runners – both published by Bloomsbury.

If you’re a menopausal runner then sign up for my weekly newsletter below and check out my Run Through The Menopause Course.

And, if you’d like me to speak to your running club, workplace, conference or other in-person or online event then get in touch.

I’m always happy to connect on social media too so come and say Hi!

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