Yesterday was great to go out with a group of enthusiastic individuals for a quick run. It was the first of hopefully many runs with the group. During the run, we talked a bit about the purpose and reasons to start picking running as an activity. One point that was great to discuss were areas to focus as we try to address those goals. After some thoughts, learning opportunities and crazy ideas, in my opinion, there are three main areas/groups that we can divide the training effort and focus to gain some short and long term improvement.
- Physical: This is what people normally think about 1st when starting to train or pick up the sport. This area includes muscle conditioning, skeletal structure, flexibility, stamina, and endurance. I think we go first to this area because is the area from which we get quick feedback on some common performance metrics like pace, speed, time to complete a distance. You address or increase performance by going on a run, workout, drills, and cross-training. Although this area is great and important, it might not necessarily be main or only one to focus on.
- Nutrition/Fueling: These are the second area that people go to, after taking a look at the physical side. Also very important to consider, since the quantity and the quality of the fuel will have effects on performance short and long term. There is a saying that “what you put into the system is what you get”. So if you put in not so great nutrition you might reduce the impact or benefit of the fuel/nutrition. This is about being intentional about what we eat and fuel consumption.
- Mental: I think more often than not individuals forget about this area. But in my opinion it the one, if not the most important one to consider. This is due to the impact of the decisions we make for the physical and nutrition area are in part all based on our mental capability and potential. Especially when you start an activity. At the early stages of taking on running (Or any sport), it helps you figure out the reasons to give up time from other activity and stick to a new one. It is what your thoughts, reasoning are going to dictate whether or not you are going to tackle a task or activity. Things like waking up very early in the morning to go out for a run, driving to a track to do a workout, doing the right homework about where are good hills or route profile, going out for a run after a long day at work and figuring out the how, when and what. The mental preparation and toughness to prevail against the challenges and eliminate or minimize limiting thoughts and ideas. Do not underestimate the mental preparation and toughness requirement, it should be part of your training.
In short, when approaching running do not forget there are three main areas to consider. Putting emphasis in just one might not yield the necessary or expected results. Acknowledging two areas will greatly improve your chances, and considering and addressing all three in small steps will perhaps give the best chances of success. Keep on running.