rbr.com readers meet Nat Korol. Like most of us, sports (running in particular) is a part of her life, but not the only part. We hope she will bring a great (and long overdue) female perspective to our site with her take on running, life, and anything in between. Without further ado, here is her first post…
Trail running is a sport that never sleeps. There is no ‘running season’ unless you independently decide you’re done for the year. Other than that, you can find races all year round. With 2014 wrapping up, I find less and less physical enthusiasm and mental energy to train for an upcoming race, the North Face Endurance Challenge in San Francisco. So, to keep spirits up, and stay away from over indulging, here are my go to pick-me-ups to continue a strong training schedule:
#1 Crew Up: Once or twice a week run with a group of passionate friends. This will do wonders to your running attitude, keep you motivated and with the right crew, give you a boost of confidence and a kick in the ass once in a while. Most cities have road running groups, and trail running groups are becoming popular in major areas. In Toronto, Salomon Toronto (at Shops at Don Mills), has a Wednesday 6:30pm run that I join as often as possible. For everywhere else Facebook is filled with running groups you can join.
#2 Quality vs. Quantity: Mileage is important but it’s not everything, and tends to be less engaging in comparison to a speed session, for example. Reward yourself with a mental and physical challenge during the week in the form of a Quality Run: part of your training that is of a challenge, yet you enjoy. Personally, power and physical strength in the form of sprinting and intense hill training is ideal. I can’t do it for hours but the pain is worth it and over the long term, I see the impact it has on my long runs. So, choose a quality running-related exercise (stretching, sprinting, power-hiking, hills, stairs) you enjoy and can improve on week after week without concentrating too much on the distance or time.
#3 Location, Location, Location: We all have our favourite places to run that are convenient, mentally comfortable, and require a minimal amount of mental effort because the terrain is totally familiar. So, plan a monthly run somewhere you’ve never run before. This is ideal with your running crew and if you’re travelling, take an afternoon to get out there and test your skills!
A couple of my favourite “getaway” areas in Southern Ontario:
- Dundas Valley Conservation Area
- The Bruce Trail (tons of options)
- Anywhere else with hiking trails!
#4 Switch it up: Runners realize the importance of strength training but it never seems as important as getting the mileage up. Unfortunately, that’s how we get burned out and regretful about that Saturday/Sunday morning long run… An easy way to get mentally excited is to challenge yourself physically during the week with an endless array of “cross training” activities such as cycling, swimming, pilates, skiing, skating, tennis, or fitness classes. My personal favourite is power yoga, which helps with stability, core, endurance and foot strength.
#5 Take a real break: Even if you truly, whole-heartedly enjoy running (which I hope you do), you’re not a wind up toy! Chances are running isn’t a career; your every day is filled with responsibilities and priorities that exhaust you. Do the best you can with your training alongside your responsibilities. Don’t get agitated, angry or upset with yourself if other priorities get in the way of training. Importantly, learn to take an honest break, from it all. It’ll help you stay physically and mentally injury free and focused.