How to Get More Out of Every Run
By Nike Running
Shift your focus from the numbers on your watch to why you're running.
Running is about more than just metrics. If you can pinpoint your running "why"—the real reasons why you're lacing up your shoes—you'll be able to focus more on the joys of running, no matter how fast or far you go.
Runners tend to judge a run by two parameters: how far and how fast. In our data-obsessed society, you can share everything from those basic metrics to your VO2 max and step cadence on social media. But this single-minded, numbers-focused approach to running can actually suck some of the joy out of the sport.
"Often, people only celebrate races or really hard workouts or their longest runs ever", says Nike Running global head coach Chris Bennett. "But the better you get, the harder it becomes to beat those milestones—and if those things are all you're basing your celebrations on, you're not going to be celebrating much".
If, instead, you make running about more than just the physical act and all the numbers related to it, Bennett says, you'll give yourself the opportunity to succeed and enjoy the sport more. The best way to do that: Pinpoint your running "why".
"But the better you get, the harder it becomes to beat those milestones—and if those things are all you're basing your celebrations on, you're not going to be celebrating much".
Nike Running Global Head Coach, Chris Bennett
Think about why you run. Does it help you burn off stress from a tough work day? Does it help you work through problems or find creative solutions? Is it simply a chance to get outside and soak up some sun?
Focusing on your "why", or your purpose for running, is far more motivating than thinking only about how far or how fast you'll go, says Bennett. What's more, each time you run and serve that purpose, that's a reason to congratulate yourself.
Knowing your "why" is also key in developing your mental toughness, or how much you're willing to endure in pursuit of a running goal. After all, just as your muscles have to work to push your limits and keep you going when things get tough, your mental endurance is vital too. Reminding yourself of your running "why" is a good way to boost that inner strength.
Most importantly, running with a purpose can make a run more fun. "Running should remind you that you're vital and alive", says Bennett. "We're supposed to enjoy running; we're choosing to do it". That can be tough when you're looking down at the tiny screen of your GPS watch every few seconds.
That doesn't mean you have to ditch the numbers. Bennett's suggestion: "Try adding some other metric to measure the success of a run". Did you make it up a killer hill in your neighbourhood for the first time? Did you come up with a great idea for a work project? Did you see an incredible sunrise? "None of these things has anything to do with how far or fast you ran", Bennett says, "but they're all amazing, and that's the most powerful aspect of running".
3 Ways to Have a Better Run
Now that you know why you're running, use Coach Bennett's advice to make sure the miles go well.
- Visualise success. Is your purpose for running to de-stress? Picture completing your workout feeling calm, relaxed and energised. Do you run to feel fitter and healthier? Think about your form, your breath and all the good you're doing your mind and body with each step.
- Talk yourself up. Telling yourself "you can do this" may feel cheesy, but positive messages can convince your brain and legs that you've got more left to give, whether you're going for a regular run or it's a race day.
- Find comfort in the uncomfortable. Maybe it's raining outside or you've hit a hilly section of your route. Instead of immediately going to a negative headspace, think about how challenging training conditions make you a better, more versatile runner. Afterwards, commend yourself for getting through this rough stretch; being able to run through tough times—whether you're facing hardships during your workout or out in the world—is a testament to the work you've put in. As Bennett puts it, "We don't run so everything gets easier, we run so we can take on harder and harder things".