5 Keys to Running Faster

"5 Keys to Running Faster!"  For years, whenever I see headlines like this one on the cover of running magazines I've laughed.  And I laugh even harder when they use the word "secret."  And yet, what do I do when I have an opportunity to write about running?  I produce my own chuckle-inducing title.  Perhaps before I judged I should have walked a mile in the shoes of those surely well-intentioned writers.  Regardless of whether you guffawed at the title, this article provides five key areas of focus for any runner who wants to get faster.
1. Train Consistently
Too often, we fixate our long runs or track workouts or cross-training sessions and end up neglecting our recovery runs.  We want our bodies to adapt to the stresses of running.  If we don't train consistently, we don't fully adapt.  Think of it like working in the yard.  If you do yard work several days a week you will develop callouses that protect your hands from the wear and tear.  If you go attack the yard very hard every once in a while you will end up a sore, blistered mess.  I would rather an athlete run easy 4-5 days a week than 2-3 days a week very hard.  By training consistently, you will be prepped to take care of the next key...
2. Stay Healthy
"Gee," Tim, "I'm gonna file 'Stay Healthy' under 'Duh.'"  I know, I know; this is easier said than done, but not as much as you may believe.  If you train consistently, your body will adapt to the stresses and be less likely to suffer an injury - or to give you more warning that an injury is developing. It's when you receive those warnings that you cannot afford to be prideful.  You must listen to our body and be flexible enough to adapt your training to keep a "molehill" problem from becoming a "mountain."  Now, assuming that you have been to FLEET FEET for a proper footwear fitting (insert Coach's Cary's "you'd better have" glare here), another key component to staying healthy is supplemental training designed to help your body develop the strength and flexibility to handle your running workload.  I assure you that the athletes who have been regulars at our Training Center are reaping the benefits of that supplemental training.
3. Fuel Intelligently
Nutrition is a topic that suffers from an overabundance misinformation and unproven fads.  You don't need to be a dietitian to know most of the basic tenets of what is good for you and what isn't.  Be smart.  As an athlete, you're burning fuel.  You need to replace the fuel you burn.  Race cars don't go very far or fast if they're out of gas - and neither will you.  Replace your spent fuel.  Don't overthink this or get caught up in fads.  The Food Pyramid that was on the side our cereal box when we were growing up wasn't a colorful cartoon put there to entertain. 
4. Be Humble
Remember the Law of the Ladder?  We must take every steps up the ladder to get to the top.  If we are too prideful and try to force ourselves to be faster than we are at the moment we often run astray of Key 2.  We must first understand where we're at, now, and then take the steps necessary to get to where we want to go.  It will also serve you well to always remember where you began.  This is best accomplished by helping others that are following a trail you've already blazed.  Being a "servant leader" to new runners will offer you a level of satisfaction both as a runner and a person.  The coaches of our Training Teams are excellent examples of people who give of themselves to help others and are better off for it.
5. Have Fun
Seriously, do I have to explain this one?  If there's one thing I know runners can do in spades, it is have fun!  Always enjoy the experience.  That's why I always end these little articles with...
Good luck and happy racing!
Coach Cary

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