How do you achieve your personal best?
I’ve been running for a long time but only competitively for the last 3 years, and like everyone else I have good and bad runs. This year however each race I have completed I have achieved my PB, out running my previous race time every time. I won’t lie it hasn’t been easy and I was shocked after each race with the time, as I never run to race time in training. So how do you continue to push the boundaries and achieve more?
Regular running: This is the most obvious and easiest way to achieve more! I created a training plan with designated run days and noted down what the focus of each run was, such as a long run, interval run etc and I stuck to it.
Yoga: This year I took up ashtanga yoga and I swear by it now. It teaches you to control your breathing no matter what effort the body is enduring. Research has proven yogis have stronger respiratory muscles and higher lung volumes- allowing greater intake of the much needed O2 and blowing off carbon dioxide (Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007;51(1):76-80).
Yoga poses teach rhythm and control, which directly relates to a runners stride. This discipline focused me to just keep running step after step. It focuses the mental awareness on the run and only the run.
Strength training: To keep running your body needs to be strong, no question. Yes running makes you a stronger runner, but it does not isolate and condition the muscles. Muscles need specific loading to create hyper trophy and this is gained from weight training. A regular strength programme that conditions the legs, core and upper body is essential to push further.
Tracking: Track your progress. I started wearing a watch that logged my time and distance. By checking this throughout your run you can judge your pace and adjust accordingly. It’s amazing the difference it makes when you realise you are on target and can settle in to the run, or knowing you are 30seconds behind and just need to lengthen your stride that tiny bit.
I’m sure there are many other steps to achieving more but this is what I have learnt this year so far! Feel free to share your tips in the comments below!