Whether you’re out there pounding the pavement on a daily basis or you’re just starting to make running a habit, there are ways ensure that you get the most out of every single mile. Read on to discover seven habits from Aaptiv trainer Meghan Takacs that can amp up the effectiveness of your runs and even help you enjoy the journey.
1. Don’t set expectations
Nothing will kill your momentum faster than getting down on yourself for not starting a run at top speed. Avoid negative thoughts by waiting until after the first mile or first block to set realistic expectations for the rest of your run. Be honest with yourself and listen to your body. If you’re feeling great then push yourself. If it’s a less than stellar day, pull back and focus on gaining mental clarity as opposed to breaking a personal record. Running always gives back—don’t look at it as just a means to lose weight.
2. Pay attention to your posture
Be fully aware of your posture and form throughout your entire run. Many people are concerned that focusing on technique will distract from just running for fun. But, avoiding injuries such as shin splints and running faster depend on good form. Be mindful while you run—it won’t take any joy out of hitting your stride.
3. Music is mighty
Your playlist is everything. The music you listen to can make you run faster and more effectively (find out how, here). That’s why I, and your other Aaptiv trainers, work so hard on the playlists we use to create Aaptiv workouts. Find a great run with a playlist that gets your heart pumping and you’ll find your cadence and posture fall into place.
4. Embrace the pain
Running becomes a lifestyle when you stop doing it to lose weight and start doing it to push yourself outside your comfort zone. Yes, you get faster by pushing yourself, but more importantly, stepping outside your comfort zone makes you feel powerful in fitness and in life. Embrace the temporary pain of a steep hill or a longer-than-normal run. The positivity you put into new challenges will help you gain self-awareness and make your run so much more than a workout.
5. Make time for speed
Make it a habit to do speed work with both active and passive recovery. I often find that the more experienced the runner, the fewer miles they run. I used to run 20-25 miles every week—it was great, but my body wasn’t feeling good. As I’ve become more interested in racing 10k and half marathons, I’ve run fewer miles and done more speed work. I have accepted that the endurance is there, and that from here on out, I will work on improving my overall running efficiency by becoming powerful through speed and strength training. I don’t care how many miles you run, I care about how you do it, and how it feels.
Dedicate each run to a personal purpose—it will make your mission to finish a whole lot stronger. Try to find answers and solve problems on your run so it becomes moving meditation. If I’m conflicted about something or I can’t make a decision, I go on a long run. In my opinion what makes a runner experienced is when he or she can use that cardio time constructively.
7. Compete with yourself
Push yourself. Find pleasure in fatiguing to the point where you can’t go on. There’s something about bringing the body to the brink that is so enchanting. You have to enjoy taking yourself there in order to truly love fitness or running. Advanced runners are basically adrenaline junkies daring to do a little more each time.
Ready to try one of Meghan’s runs? Here’s one for every level:
Beginner: “Get Efficient”
Intermediate: “Race Prep Pop”
Advanced: “Chasing Miles”