You run which makes you a runner. That’s great news! But have you hit a plateau and you’re not sure how you can become a better runner?
Here are the things you may be unintentionally doing that are harming your running progression and preventing you from becoming a better runner.
You’ve got no proper gear and no idea
What a combination of all things wrong. In all honesty, you can run in any clothing you feel most comfortable in whether that’s jeans (you total lunatic) or pyjama bottoms. You don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive running clothes.
While it would be more appropriate for many reasons to wear clothing that is designed to wick away sweat and help you perform better, they are not essential to your running performance.
The only thing that is the exception to this is your footwear.
Having the correct footwear to run in does not mean you have to spend hundreds of pounds either. There are affordable shoes you can purchase these days that are also
Wait for some of the higher end running shoes to appear in sales. There are new releases all the time so they’re not going to stay at full price for long. Do some online bargain hunting!
Make sure that you’re also tracking the mileage on your running shoes because they will need to be replaced at around 400 miles.
You’re not warming up and cooling down
If you want to prevent injury and keep running for longer you have to do some ‘maintenance’ before and after a run to keep yourself fitter for longer.
I know it can be tedious to spend time once you’re done with your run on stretching and whatnot but you will benefit from this, whether you feel like you will or not.
Have you ever seen any athlete start an event after leaping up from a sofa? Of course not! You don’t have to spend too long warming up and cooling down but you need to be at least doing it.
If you’re not inclined to warm up on your run and do some stretches in front of your neighbours then do a warm up in the comfort of your own home.
I’ll occasionally put on some of my favourite music before I leave the house and warm up by dancing, stretching and just generally getting in the mood for my run. Dance like nobody’s watching because they probably aren’t.
You’re not listening to your body
A little niggle can turn into a huge problem if you don’t do something about it. There is a difference between muscle fatigue and injury pain and you should not be experiencing pain when you’re running.
You must not run on
If you are able to cross train while you work through your injury try cycling or swimming to keep your fitness levels up so you don’t have to start back at square one again.
You’re not adding fuel to the fire
Nutrition is hugely important in running and you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a healthy balanced diet.
Make sure you’re eating foods that are fuelling your energy levels and muscle strength and not hindering them.
I’m not going to tell you what to eat because this is a case of personal preference but work out what is best for your body to get the best performance from it.
Try out difference post and pre run foods and eliminate any that you don’t feel are helping your goals. Sure bananas are great for a pre run snack but if your stomach really can’t handle them, don’t eat them.
You know that chicken nuggets really aren’t the key to becoming a better runner though!
And the second tip is to make sure that you’re adequately hydrated for your runs. If you’re going to be working up a sweat for a long period of time, make sure you’re taking a water bottle along with you.
However, if you’re on a shorter run, you can leave the water at home and rehydrate on your return but make sure you’re also drinking enough through the day too.
Chugging water down an hour before your run is going to make you feel like the wolf in Little Red Riding H
Your runs have no purpose or direction
Not every run needs to be a regimented and time-driven ordeal, however, you should have some vision or direction with the majority of them.
Try out some of these techniques for running which will improve your fitness in different ways and make you a better runner overall.
- Fartlek (speed-play)
- Hill running / repeats
- Progression run
- Heart rate zone
- Tempo runs
You have no mental resilience
Learning the art of mental resilience is going to be your number one key to improving as a runner.
You tried to run up a hill once and it was difficult? Run up that hill until it isn’t difficult any more. Then try and get up that hill faster than the last time you ran it.
Running is totally mind over matter and that is what is going to keep you determined and see you through the bad runs and the bad races.
You must be consistent, persistent and resilient. Once you’ve mastered these you’ll be able to push yourself further, harder and faster and see results beyond a doubt.
You don’t keep a running log
If you don’t know where you’ve been, how do you know where you are going?
Tracking your runs and keeping a running log is going to keep you accountable, motivated and inspired.
While you might not think you’ve improved much within a couple of months, look back at your previous runs and delight in the amount of PBs you’ve achieved in that short space of time.
Related post: How tracking your runs is going to be the key to your success
The only thing you’re doing is running
To become a complete athlete you must do more than just running. You should be cross training weekly to improve your endurance, balance, flexibility and strength which are all important to become a better runner.
If you enjoy running you might think of this as a chore but working once a week on other
Cross training will also prevent you from injury. Overworking the same muscle groups can lead to weaknesses and imbalances so make sure you’re doing other things besides running.
You’ve never tried yoga
Yoga and running have often been said to go hand in hand. The high impact frantic nature of running can be complimented by the deep stretching and meditative practices of yoga.
Yoga will also increase your flexibility and muscle strength, both of which will be beneficial to you as a runner.
Not sure where to start? Head over to YouTube where there are an endless supply of yoga videos which are catered towards runners.
Running isn’t a priority to you
If you aren’t making time to prioritise running, you’re doing your best running years a disservice. Being fit and healthy should be at the top of your to-do list and you should be making time for it, not trying to scrabble around for time someday perhaps when you’re less busy.
Get your diary out and plan out your running schedule every week. Look at when you can realistically run and if necessary get up earlier or go out during your lunch break.
If you’re not making running a priority you’re not going to improve as a runner full stop.
Running clubs aren’t on your radar
I’ll bet you any money that there is a running club within a reasonable distance from your hometown. Off the top of my head, I believe I can advise you of 6 different running clubs within a 5 mile radius from my house and I don’t live in the city.
Running clubs aren’t essential but they do hold an endless resource of running tips and knowledgeable members to help you on your running journey whether you’re starting out or whether you’re a more seasoned runner.
You can often find running coaches at running clubs too so if you feel like you’d benefit from one, sign up to a running club. They’ll usually let you attend one session before you join so try out the few in your area and pick the one that suits your needs best.
You’re increasing your weekly mileage by more than 10%
Up there on your list of priorities should be the avoidance of injury when running. If you’re injured you can’t run and one of the ways you might be sabottaging yourself from becoming a better runner is trying to do too much too quickly.
As a rule, you should not be increasing your weekly mileage by more than 10% which will help you train smarter and safer.
All of your runs are data-driven bore fests
Yes you need focus and yes you need purpose to the majority of your runs but every single one of them doesn’t have to be.
If you haven’t tried cross country running or trail running I’d highly recommend giving it a go.
These kinds of runs are not made for PBs but they are made for invigorating you with more pleasant scenery than streets lined with houses or your reflection while you’re running on the dread-mill. Think stunning scenery, think mud and trails and wildlife and just enjoying being out in nature.
Running across trail terrain will help your endurance and strength and will benefit you when it comes to running in the streets.
You’re too scared to sign up for a race
I totally 100% get it. If you’ve never been to one you can imagine that it feels like you’re the only newbie and you might come last and it’s all very crowded and noisy and you don’t really know what you’re doing.
Firstly, it’s not like those things at all. Races are encouraging, inspiring, motivational events and personally I’m a little addicted to them.
If I hadn’t signed up for so many races last year I may have lost my enthusiasm and motivation a long time ago. Looking forward to a race gave me something to focus on when I didn’t feel focused.
They’re also a great incentive to keep you on schedule with your training plan. Your race is in 8 weeks, great, look for an 8 week running program and put the training sessions into your diary.
There’s also the medals. Say no more!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and learned something about why you might not be becoming the best runner you can be and that you can go on and smash those
You make so many good points in this post. One of the biggest things that’s held me back in the past has been under fuelling, it’s taken me years to learn what I need to fuel myself but now I have it’s been a game changer!