The Four Essential Components of Running

Like most people, my first attempts at being ‘a runner’ were largely unsuccessful. “How hard could running be?” I thought. It took many years of trial and error to understand that to be a successful runner in the long run (bad pun, sorry), I have to be solid in four fundamental areas in order to enjoy sustained, quality runs.

1. Form first. Running is a repetitive motion activity, so form must come first. If your form is not good and you continue to run anyway, you are surely on the road to eventual pain and injury.

2. Training. There are some basic training principles that are important to know and are available seemingly everywhere. A few to remember: begin where you are (not where you were in high school!), increase gradually, and give yourself recovery days and/or cross-training.

3. Nutrition. How you fuel yourself is key to running performance. You cannot expect good results with poor food choices. Follow this simple guideline for sustained energy and blood sugar stability: think of each meal as consisting of a protein (lean, preferably), a complex carb and a fruit and/or vegetable. I’m a big proponent of ‘real’ foods vs. processed, ‘energy’ or even food products directed at runners.

4. Psychology. Even with the above physiological principles in place, something has to get you out of bed and onto the road, trail or track day after day. We are busy and it’s easier to not run than run. Remind yourself of the long-term benefits will you enjoy from being a runner when you are struggling. And sometimes you just have to override your resistance. One rule I have for myself is to not consider stopping during the first mile. Then, once I’m out there in that fresh air, I keep going.

Put these four fundamental running components in place for you to make your running more enjoyable and rewarding.

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