I love that moment after a completed run when I stop the clock and cool down with a happy smile on my face. No matter how the run was, after finishing there’s almost always that great post run buzz.
But when was a run successful? Of course that is very dependent on the goals you set yourself for that workout or for your training in general.
As you can see on this blog I mainly have three themes in my focus when it comes to running: motivation, health and improvement. And so I also score my training runs in these three categories.
In this post I present you three questions that you can use to reflect the run you just finished and gain as much positive out of your training and running in general.
The first question to ask yourself after a run is all about motivation. You can only stay motivated to do something when you really like doing it.
So just ask yourself if that run you just completed was actually fun. A bad run can lower your motivation quite a bit but a great run can boost it massively. It is crucial for all aspects of running that you keep up your passion. If you succeed with that, there’s nothing in your way to establish and maintain a consistent running habit.
I myself am a positive minded person and try to get fun out of everything and find something positive even out of situations that seem pretty depressing at first sight. After maybe 95% of the runs I can answer this question with a clear yes.
This is even the case if the weather turned really bad during the run and I struggled through heavy rain and wind. It’s a great feeling to be able to fight through every condition and not just be a sunshine runner.
Ok let’s talk about healthy running. Most start running out of health reasons. It’s almost paradox that a high percentage of runners get injured again and again. To keep running for decades and up to high ages it’s very important to have always your body and health in focus.
That’s why I ask myself after every run if my body was able to handle the effort. If you’re an ambitious runner and train like an athlete, you’re always on a thin line between training too moderate and doing too much. It’s that sweet spot in between where you get the best results.
While training too moderate isn’t a bad thing at all, especially for recreational runners, doing too much can easily result in overtraining or injury. And you don’t want to be sidelined for weeks or even months.
After my runs, especially the intense and long workouts, I go through my body and check for any unusual sensations. Of course exhaustion and tired and sore muscles are just fine. Try to distinguish any possible aches from the normal soreness after a tough run.
Especially have a close look at your knees, feet, shins and hips. And also don’t just ask yourself about any aches just after the run. Often your blood is full of endorphins and other hormones that ease the pain. Check in the hours after the run and make sure your completely recovered from a workout before heading out for the next one.
Ok, so you’re motivated to go again after a run and you know your body can handle the effort. But does that bring you any closer to achieving your running goal? Well it is! Motivation and staying healthy are the foundation any running habit builds upon.
If you wanna keep improving though, you have to train the right way. So to stay on track you should review if your workouts were carried out as you planned them.
The more advanced your goal, the more advanced your training planning and execution need to be. If your just wanna head out for half an hour three times a week, this question is trivial to answer. If your goal is to drop some weight, it’s also easy. Just weigh yourself 2-3 times a week and check if you’re trending towards your desired weight.
But what if you’re more ambitious? What if you have a specific finishing time for the next race in mind? Well you’re at a point where your workouts need to be as close to the plan as possible, not only time and distance wise but also intensity.
As written in my guide to heart rate training you train different aspects of running when you run in different heart rate zones. Easy and moderate intensity runs build core endurance and faster workouts increase your aerobic capacity and therefore increase the pace you can run on race day.
So this is where your heart rate monitor comes in play. Try to analyze every run in a tracking application of your choice. Were you running your intervals in 90% of your maximum heart rate? Was your average heart rate on your long run below 75% percent?
If you stick to the plan and train as precise to your plan as possible, improvement is guaranteed. In case you’re not familiar with training planning yet, no worries. Come back here in February as this month will be all about training planning for endurance running.
So in reply of the last question, I recommended you to check if you are training according to your training plan. But don’t put too much focus just on training right and improvement. Always remember it is crucial to stay healthy at all time during the process of training.
If you get injured preparing for a big race, you have no chance at all to execute your training according to your plan. The same takes effect for motivation. If you don’t wanna go out for a run and are not motivated to get the maximum out of it, then you have no chance to succeed.
So try to have an equal focus an all of these three questions and the themes they represent. Motivation, health and a solid improvement are my major topics in running. Trying to improve in all three of those things made me the ultra trail runner I am today.