Top Advice from Professional Runners
So far, this blog has been all about helpful advice for amateurs and pros regarding how to train and treat running injuries. This time, we’re going to offer you something different: inspirational words of advice collected from various professional athletes and Olympic medallists in various running events. Like you, these people started as amateurs and they have been through all the highs and lows, overcome mental and physical obstacles, and are now shining stars on the running world firmament.
How did they do it? In the same way in which you can do it, too: by taking it one day at a time and never giving up. Through hard work and dedication, through adequate nutrition and a balanced lifestyle, you can also improve your performance level and move up to a superior class of runner. But there is one more thing, the thing which really puts the competitive spirit in us to good work: never lose the love and enthusiasm for running. Never do it just for the prizes and the money. First of all, do it for yourself, do it because it’s fun.
That being said, here are a few top tips from those who are probably among your role models, and the people who coach them:
- On Nutrition
Professional coach Pete Rea has prepared seven World Championship participants and sent several others to Olympic Trials. His mantra regarding runners’ nutrition is never to try a new kind of food or drink on or just before the competition day. You never know how your body will react to it. Indigestion or a case of dehydration could prevent you from participating in the race, or, at best, a belated adverse reaction could prevent you from giving your all.
Competitions of any kind are not the right moment to make any changes in your diet. Use the basic principles “if it’s not broken, why fix it” and keep eating and drinking the things which you know and which give you the necessary nourishment and hydration you need to be in top shape.
- On Training Terrains
Winner of the 2014 Boston marathon and Olympic participant Meb Keflezighi states that the risk of running injuries is obvious as you increase mileage on the same hard track. The muscles and ligaments can take up to a level of continuous pounding before they start breaking down. The smart way to increase performance without injuring yourself is to switch from the track to softer, grassy ground and allow your body to adjust to the new effort without the extra stress from hitting your feet against hard ground.
Variation of terrains is also useful for increasing your muscle strength and flexibility. Whenever possible, switch between flat land and uphill running, and test your running shoes on different types of surfaces to find out if they offer you adequate support.
- On Patience and Resolutions
Never get frustrated and give up because you did not reach your goal on the first try, advises Desiree Linden, 2012 London Olympics participant in the marathon race. You probably will not achieve your best time or win the medal you wish from the start. The higher your goals, the harder it is to reach them. But this does not mean that the first disappointment should make you give up. On the contrary, use it as motivation, as a way of proving to yourself that you can be better than that.
- On Setting Goals
Meb Keflezighi has a philosophy: never put all your eggs in one basket. Never focus the whole purpose of running on just one goal. What happens if you never reach it? And what happens after you reach it? You ditch your running shoes and stop training?
It is always more profitable to keep your eyes on multiple goals, some bigger, some smaller, and whenever you have achieved one, set another one in its place. This will keep you continually motivated to succeed.
- On Recovering from Injuries
Track and field runner Lauren Fleshman has dealt with running injuries, like every other athlete. Some of those injuries were severe enough to keep her from training for months. She advises runners to use the time wisely, spending it with family and friends, doing things they love and pursuing hobbies instead of worrying about the injury. She says that this approach helped her heal faster and kept her in a positive mindset even when she had to retake her training from zero.
As you can see, even Olympic medallists are humans with victories and defeats.
How they chose to get over their defeats made them into the top professionals they are today. We hope you can find wisdom and inspiration in their words to help shape your own mindset.