The secret to running fast is to enjoy your training and create consistency.
Find interesting routes to run, run with friends, make new friends, wear the right footwear and clothing for you to feel comfortable and confident in, find challenging goals to work towards and stay injury free. Keep an open mind to grow and foster your awareness and understanding of your mind and your body. If you can do all of these things and remember to smile in or after every run your half way there.
The trick to consistency is staying injury free and interested. Running shortens muscles and these can tighten around the joints, using eccentric exercises and stretching helps to lengthen and strengthen these muscles. Pilates is a complete packaged mind and body system of exercises. It creates the same synergy you can find running but it works on strengthening and lengthening the muscles around the correct alignment of the joints and the skeletal frame. It is the perfect answer to body conditioning for optimal performance, everyday life, rehabilitation, healthy movement and acts as a bridge between the mind and body. Founded by Joseph Pilates in 1926 to overcome rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. It has influences from eastern and western philosophies; ancient Greek and roman regimens and yoga, gymnastics, boxing, martial arts and dance. Mat Pilates consists of 34 moves; all with variations for both the beginner and the advanced practitioner. Pilates has 8 key principles of which all have benefits to the runner;
- awareness- learning your anatomy and alignment for optimal use
- breath- the thread that runs through of the exercises and understanding both lateral intercostal breathing and deep abdominal breathing
- concentrention- learning to have attention to a single objective- building through the layers within moves and tying these to your breathing. Finding mindfulness and focus.
- control- learning exact alignment in the exercises, with emphasis on coordination, balance and refined motor programs
- center- learn your center of gravity and how to engage and strengthen your core muscles (the pelvic floor and transabdominal muscles)
- precision- understanding which muscles are working or should be working, aligning correctly, activation of isolated muscles and integrating the required muscles for movement
- flow- smooth and uninterrupted continuity of movement and timing of exercise with the breath
- relaxation/harmony- slowing movements down can help slow the minds constant conversations down which can help you to think more clearly. Studies have proven Pilates can help reduce anxiety and depression.
So, try a Pilates class and be patient. Growing and learning takes time. The foundations your build through Pilates will serve you well in your goals to come. Learn how to stretch properly, align your body correctly, engage your core muscles, strengthen the small attaching muscles as well as the larger ones, reduce anxiety and depression with controlled breathing patterns and stay injury free.
Finally staying interested in running means motivation. The main tool for this is goal setting. Whether you have mileage goals, a race planned, a new group you want to join for a run, time goals or weight-loss goals. Write them down. Put them on the wall. Tell yourself how important they are to you to stick to. For you. Why are you doing them? Break them down into tiny pieces. And tick each one off as you go.
Use positive instructional self-talk to stay confident “I can do this. Focus. Stay strong. I am stronger than I appear to be, all of the worlds power and strengths rests inside me”. And imagine yourself when you’ve achieved your goal. What do you look like? How do you feel?
MSc Sport and exercise psychology
International distance runner (3000m-half marathon)