7 Habits of Highly Effective Runners

By: Brian Elder

Resolutions are all the rage as the year 2015 begins (where is Marty McFly?). We are 5 days in and some of you may already be questioning the resolutions you set as a runner. You've missed a day running and are already wanting to beat yourself up over it. We don't want you to beat yourself up over missing a day of running but we want to encourage you to develop habits. Habits are impossible to break and must be overcome by stronger habits and the truth is that good habits are just as addictive as bad habits, but much better for you. Here are some ways you can develop some of those good habits to reach your running resolutions. Lace up those shoes again and get back out there. 

1. Strength Train

One of the things that runners often neglect is strength training. Whether it be because you are afraid of bulking up or you don't want to miss an important run in a training program, runners don't strengthen their muscles enough. While keeping our running schedules and completing running workouts is important, we think that strength training (core especially) is just as important. Start simple by adding things such as planks or pushups when you get home from a run. 

2. Roll and Recover

Another thing that some runners fail to do is recover properly. We either pop a few ibuprofen and hope that will be enough or go straight from a run into the shower. Invest in a foam roller and use it on your legs and calves. You will be amazed at the difference it can make especially as you try to increase your mileage to meet your resolutions in 2015. 

3. Become a Morning Runner

This one is tough. I know from experience. It can be tough to roll out of bed especially in the winter when temperatures can be below freezing at 7 and 8 AM. Grab a friend because it makes it easier. One benefit of this tough is that you have the entire day in front of you. Studies show that people who work out in the morning tend to be more productive throughout the rest of their days as well. 

4. Eat Clean

A chocolate chip cookie sundae from Steak and Shake has 840 calories. That's the equivalent of running 8 miles if you want to break even. That's over an hour of running for most people. I am not saying to enjoy the occasional sweet treat because we all need a reward every now and then, but it is good to make a habit of eating healthy. Try to limit those sweet treats to ones that you know will really be worth it for the calories you will consume. 

5. Know the Importance of Sleep

Sleep is essential. It helps speed your body's recovery process and offers you the energy you need to make it through the day without the crash or desperation of relying on caffeine. If you look at any elite runner, they have scheduled nap times throughout their day because they understand how important it is for their training. While I know most of us are not elite runners, myself included, getting rest is important if you are serious about reaching your goals. 

6. Include Speed Work

Many runners have no problem adding a longer run on the weekend, but when they hear the idea of adding a speed workout they cringe. They know it will hurt and they know they will have to go to extra effort to find a track learn how to properly pace themselves. While speedwork should be implemented slowly, if done correctly it can help someone who just runs at a moderate pace on every run to great improvements on race day so that you can set a new P.R. 

7. Switch Up Your Routine

Variety is also another habit to create. Whether that means unplugging your phone and music on a run or changing your running route, variety helps to keep things fresh. Even though we may be less than a week into the new year, before long that same out and back loop will get old. If you can provide some variety now then it will help you reach your goals later. 


Here are some good books on habits...

Brian Elder is a learner, amateur explorer, and runner that is going to run until it takes him somewhere. He is a graduate from the University of Georgia where he studied English and Religion. After running competitively on trails and roads, he fuels with an appetite so big you would swear it’s competitive.  Follow Brian on Instagram.