The secret to improvement

There are hundreds of magazine articles, blog posts, and books written every year on how to get faster as a runner. And it’s true that there are a number of factors that can improve your running — new workouts, proper nutrition, recovery techniques, etc. all play a big role in how fast you run.


But to me there is one thing that matters more than anything else: consistency. If you run consistently, you will improve.


Sounds simple, right? It is. But as Thelonious Monk said, “simple ain’t easy.” Here are a few things to keep in mind when working towards being a more consistent runner:


  • Do all you can to avoid injury
    This is the biggest thing that will stunt a runner’s progress. With the runners I coach I would ALWAYS rather they be a little undertrained than get them injured. Getting injured means time off (or cross-training) and a reduced training load when you start training again. All of those things can stunt your improvement. That’s why it’s always better to take a day or two off when you feel something isn’t right rather than push through and get hurt.
  • Have a plan to follow
    I’ve talked before about the issues of life getting in the way of your training. It’s inevitable that you’ll need to follow some of those tips at some point in your training. But if you have a training plan that you’re following, you are much more likely to stay consistent in your running. You may need to switch days around, etc. but you’ll have a view of the big picture of what you’re trying to accomplish.
  • Have a support group
    One of the best ways to stay consistent in your running is to have a friend or a group of friends that you run with. You don’t have to do every run with them, but having people waiting for you is a great way to get motivated on days you’d rather stay in bed. Scheduling a group run on a day you know you have trouble motivating yourself is even more effective.