Best running advice received in 2017

From getting through the marathon to preparing properly the night before the race, experts and elites have given us some incredible advice over the past 12 months

Barkley Marathons

We spend hours every year talking to the best experts and elites in order to get a picture on how to best improve running performance. We interview Canada’s sharpest so that we can relay to our readers what steps the need to take. Of course, with such a range of abilities and interests that fit under the same umbrella, this isn’t always an easy feat. But whether you’re a newcomer getting ready for a local 5K or a marathoner curious about the trail scene, we think we received some valuable nuggets of wisdom this year. Here are some that stood out:

From the experts:

  1. Know when innocent celebrations turn into a habit. Indulging in desserts and drinks after the race is fine but when the timelines turns into weeks or months, it’s a habit. – Jen Sygo, sports nutritionist
  2. Be active outside of the scheduled workout. There are 24 hours of the day. Outside of the one-hour workout, opt to carry groceries or walk instead of taking transit. – Kevin Smith, coach
  3. Recognize when stressful times hit and adjust accordingly because stress affects the workout. Meditate or scale back when needed. Don’t think of athletic life as separate from everyday life. It’s not. – Dr. Greg Wells, sports physiologist 
  4. To overcome jet lag, start dialing the clock forward or back three days before flying. I.e. go to bed one hour early the first night, two hours earlier the second night, etc. – Amy Bender, experimental psychology Ph. D.
  5. The biggest contributor to poor self image is negative self talk. Recognize the dialogue you’re having with yourself. That has the biggest impact on say, how you feel about your body or how you see your athletic performance. – Kim Dawson, mental skills consultant

On getting through the marathon…

  1. “Walk 50K first and then it’ll seem easy.”Evan Dunfee Olympic race walker
  2. You will go through a rough patch so have your technique prepared in advance. Some people sing in their head but Paula Radcliffe said at this year’s Chicago Marathon that she counts. – Paula Radcliffe, women’s marathon record holder

Tips for all runners from the elites

  1. Be persistent once you’ve decided what you want from running. Then, the results will come. Oh, and make it fun. Claire Sumner, Canadian cross-country champion
  2. There’s no secret [to running fast at an older age]. It’s about consistency. Stay consistent and listen to the body. That’s it! Paula Wiltse 
  3. Use time off during injury to gain perspective and do what you can. Get in the gym and do the things you can’t do while in full training mode. Get a personal trainer to show you the ropes and don’t feel intimidated. – Natasha Wodak
  4. Show your personality. Show off your quirks and sense of humour. Running isn’t only about performance. – Usain Bol
  5. Rachel Hannah shared the piece of advice that got her through her missed IAAF World Championships: Think about what you can do, not about what you can’t do.
  6. “Visualization is also huge part of my mental preparation. I try to visualize the race during workouts to train my mind to perform the race imagined.” – Andrea Seccafien on dealing with jitters. 
  7. Before a race, don’t just log off social media but actually turn off the phone to stay focused. – Trevor Hofbauer before winning the Canadian marathon championships. 
  8. Don’t eat new food before a race and don’t try a new restaurant either. – Leslie Sexton, Canadian marathon champion
  9. When in a relationship, make sure you each get a season where you goal race is the focus. Each person needs their turn. – Gary Robbins at the Where Dreams Go To Die tour