The Most Important Part of Your Training

 

You see all types of click-bait headlines on running sites promising to make you hit your goals faster …

“Do this or you will never reach your running goals!”

“Eat this … and all your running dreams will come true!!!”

“Are you doing this fill-in-the-blank-incredibly-expensive-and-most-likely-not-covered-by-your-insurance-torture treatment, because you’re SCREWING your training if you’re not!”

“This is the ONE spice runners need to have in their pantries!”

“Are you doing this one type of workout? You NEED to!”

“Stretch … or else!” … “Don’t stretch … or else!

“Get a coach!” … “You don’t need a coach!

“Wear minimalist shoes!” … “Wear air mattresses on your feet!” … “You don’t need shoes at all!”

“Get this watch with 250 options!” … “Ditch your watch and run by feel!”

“Eat like an elite!” … “Eat like a caveman!” … “Never eat gluten!”

“Level up your veganism and eat nothing that casts a shadow like this elite marathoner did!”

“Track your heart rate!”

“Run all your long runs at goal pace!” … “Never run your long runs at pace!

“If you’re not foam rolling, you are SABOTAGING your dreams!”

SIGH.

With all that noise coming at you, it’s easy to feel paralyzed and confused about what actually matters when it comes to chasing down your PR dreams. So, all the ever-changing running mumbo jumbo pseudo science fad diet bull crap aside, what truly matters when it comes to getting faster and better at running?

CONSISTENCY.

The End.

That’s right, more than any single other “thing” that you can add to your training, the most important thing is you getting off your ass and just getting out there and running. Even when the weather sucks. Even when you’re a little hungover. Even when you’re on vacation sometimes. Even when your stupid dog keeps you up half the night before a long run. Even when you don’t feel like it.

Oh, your throat hurts a little? Suck it up, buttercup, and go for your damn run. Mercury is in retrograde, again? Oh well, it probably was the day you were born so deal with it. It’s “National get-together-with-your-lady-squad-and-eat-tacos-and drink-copious-amounts-of-margaritas-day,” again, and you’d rather do that? Please.

If you want to conquer a big running goal, you can’t just put it out there on social media, fail to do the work, and then make 26.2 excuses why you didn’t make it to the finish line (or the starting line), or the end of a workout, or to your double run for the sixth time this training cycle. You can’t just add some fad diet or supplement, add one stretch to your routine, or delete an entire food group from your menu and expect to get better.

Consistency is what you need to achieve both the physiological changes necessary to improve your running and to increase your own mental toughness to overcome in a race setting. Physiological changes? Yes; you are physically changing your muscle cells, cardiovascular system, and over time, even your skeletal system to better support your running. That actually takes time, commitment, and repeated, focused effort.

By you. And your brain and body. Not some magical coach, training plan, hot yoga or cleanse.

Habitual running will get you far, without any of the other “things” thrown at you as necessary. Now, I’m not saying that adding other things other than just running into your routine is unnecessary, but if you can’t get the habit part down, none of that other stuff even matters. All the #ExtraSalt things we post about are called *extra* for a reason … they are done in addition to habitual running.

And if you find you can’t get the habit part down, then maybe take a good look in the mirror and admit that your running goal isn’t a priority. (And that is just fine.) If so, own it, and let it go.

***

So the next time you skip a workout or long run and click on a headline that promises to magically get you to your PR dreams, remember only you making the consistent choice to get up and run (Bertha) will get you there. All that other stuff can come later. (Or not.)

How’d you get your running to become a consistent habit?

I'm an elementary P.E. teacher with a long-term, ongoing marathon addiction.The next big goal? Keeping up my BQ streak while aiming for a 3:10! I write about the not-so-glamorous side of running and fitting in serious training with a family while staying sane(ish).

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6 comments

  1. Yes yes yes! I see people asking all the time what kind of speedwork they should do, or whether they should do hills or tempo or intervals or all or none, and I’m just like – why don’t you start with running X days per week EVERY week, instead of taking 2 months “off” between training plans, or trying to do all the things one week and then end up doing none of the things the next week because you’re sore!

  2. So so true. And I think the more we can make running a habit, the easier it is to achieve consistency. When I started to feel weird on days I didn’t run (or work out somehow), I started making real progress.

  3. You don’t say ;)

    Mantras I use to make it a habit:
    1. Any miles are better than no miles/ if you only have time for two miles, do the two miles. (Used when I’m tempted to skip a planned run or workout because I’ve run out of time to do the whole thing, or when I’m tempted to throw in the towel because the first bit of the run feels crappy even though I’m not injured and am not on the verge of injury.)
    2. How bad do you want it?
    3. BQ, BQ, BQ. (Replace with any other long-term big hairy audacious goal you please. Used to remind myself that being consistent is money in the bank towards a goal.)

    1. “Any miles are better than no miles” is one of my mantras too! Probably the most useful one for me, as I can always convince myself I don’t really want x goal badly enough to go run 10 miles in a downpour (or whatever).