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Want a Running Breakthrough? Assess your Running Routine

The theme for this week’s Take-It-And-Run Thursday is “If I knew then what I know now.”  Essentially, we’re tapping into the lessons we’ve learned about running—many of them the hard way.

Looking back is one of the most powerful ways we learn.  Amy and I heavily use assessment processes in our jobs to look back at project and business success—and sometimes not-so-successful business.  The most critical part of this approach is getting an accurate, meaningful picture of how we’re doing and why.  It’s no different for runners.  Without an accurate snapshot of how we’re doing and why, we often wallow in minimal improvement and diminished enjoyment of our running

Checklist_3 Assessing our running is often the most difficult part of getting better.  Improving as a runner isn't always about working harder.  As runners, many of us already have strong work ethics and are willing to apply strong efforts.  We demand that we run specific distances on particular days, and we generally meet the demands.  We prescribe a particular pace in a speed workout or pace run—and we do it.  Many of us are already hard working enough.

Instead, the hardest part for runners is objectively sizing up how our running is going.  Sure we have our running watch and the race clock to tell us how we’re doing. But I wonder if we take enough time to evaluate what’s happening with our running and the results we’re getting.  Matters we might want to assess include:

  • Is the number of days I run per week working for me?
  • How might I adjust my weekly mileage?
  • How much sameness is there to my running?
  • Are most runs comparable in distance, pace, comfort?
  • What is the quality of my recovery?
  • Is my training producing the race results I want
  • What might have lead to my sluggishness, illness, injuries, and disappointment?
  • If I were to try a new approach to improve my running this year, what would it be? More miles? Fewer miles? More stretching? Cross training? Heart rate training? Better nutrition?
  • What are the factors behind my string of successes and disappointments?
  • What am I doing in training that I can't achieve in a race?

Stepping back to size up our running is perhaps the most powerful and overlooked ways we can improve.  More than trying harder and running further, assessing our running is what truly leads to breakthroughs.  Running more will get some results.  Shifting our running mindsets and routines will often produce exponentially great results.

Assessing our running is one of the single-most overlooked processes to improve and more fully enjoy running.  The closer we get to understanding why we’re getting what we’re getting with our running routine and workouts, the more likely we will improve.  Assessing our running is one of the most challenging and enjoyable parts of being a runner.

With apologies to Socrates,

"The unexamined running life is not worth living."


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Powerful post! Honest self-reflection is the key to improving in any arena, including running. Most of us are just ordinary people who've found a passion to embrace. While we're not going to run in the Olympics, we desire to be the best runner that we can possible be.

Thank you for your thoughts on such an important subject.

tony Gravato

Tom, I have to ask, "are you a mind reader"

This story came across my screen right at the time when I needed it.

Great posting!!


The sooner you make your first 5000 mistakes, the sooner you will be
able to correct them.
-- Nicolaides


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