We asked popular coach and runner, Jenny Maier, to dish on some of her best training tips. We learned from Jenny that it’s all about making choices in your training that set you up for success.
1. Ask for advice. Even the most seasoned veteran runners can benefit from asking for advice about training, race selection and gear from the community. Just make sure you’re asking the right people. For gear, definitely seek out specialty running stores who will take a fair amount of time learning about you and your running before making recommendations to you based solely on your feet or what you’ve previously been in.
2. Know the difference between flexibility and mobility, strength and functional fitness. As a runner, we want to focus on mobility and functional fitness. We don’t need to be able to put our feet behind our heads, but it might be nice for our hip flexors, achilles and shoulders to have a healthy range of motion for both injury prevention and to improve on our running form and efficiency. We also don’t need to be able to lift a Mini Cooper, but it might be nice to have strong hips, ankles, core and glutes to provide stability during our running activities. If running is your primary sport, then engage in cross training activities and supplemental strength work that will benefit you as a runner.
3. Resist going medium-hard all the time. Most runners make the mistake of thinking easy means medium. As a result, there isn’t enough variance in training speeds and the mechanics, heart rates and zones associated with each training day. The biggest piece of advice I always give my athletes are, “keep your easy days easy and your hard days hard”. Resist the urge to turn your easy runs into “medium-hard” runs, or your body will never be able to truly reach the spectrum of effort that provides the best physical and mental training benefit.
4. Treat yourself like an elite. Whether you’re going for a marathon time worthy of the Olympic trials, a Boston qualifier, a personal best or just finishing, our bodies don’t always know the difference—it only knows how you treat it. Pay attention to what you eat, how much sleep you get and how it feels. Investing in regular bodywork sessions and a routine of self-care will keep your body in the best condition it can be in, regardless of what your goal time is
5. Embrace versatility. Try new things: bootcamp, pilates, yoga, spinning, TRX, crossfit, Lagree, Bikram, swimming, snowshoeing…. You’ll figure out which fits best into your training and might find a new workout that you love and will carry into the off-season with you. I started doing yoga as a way to supplement my running training and ended up loving it so much that I got certified and now teach six classes a week and practice regularly myself.
6. Take rest days seriously. Rest and easy days are meant to not only give your body a break, but also to provide periods of time where your body absorbs all the work it does on harder training days. Without that time to allow it to “sink in”, those hard days will be much less beneficial.
7. Ask yourself the hard question. How bad do you want it? During tough workouts and during your race, you can always come back to this question. Your answer will determine whether you’ll find it in yourself mentally to dig deep and come up with that additional ounce of toughness or not. The book, “How Bad Do You Want It?” by Matt Fitzgerald is one of my must-reads for any athlete.
8. Consider a coach. Yes I’m a coach and no this isn’t a sales pitch. I’ve had races that I’ve trained with a coach and races I’ve trained without a coach, and I’ve always performed better with someone else’s help. Not everyone needs one in the end, but everyone should at least look into it and consider the possibility that someone with more experience and training can guide you through a new distance, to a PR, get you out of a training rut, provide new prospective on training or simply hold you accountable to your schedule. Your local running store can often provide suggestions, but training can be found at your fingertips through online coaching platforms as well. And yes, even experienced runners (and coaches) need coaches sometimes.
BIO: Jenny is an avid runner of all distances and all surfaces and competed at distances of half marathon to 100k on road and trail. Jenny is a running coach through both her own coaching service and through Ekiden Coaching. Jenny spent years in the outdoor industry and has worked at San Francisco Running Company since 2013 setting runners up for success with the right gear and an awesome community to train with. Jenny manages and races on the BayBird Racing Team, is a member of Oiselle Volee and is sponsored by Victory Sportdesign. You can also find her teaching heated power vinyasa classes at CorePower Yoga in the San Francisco Bay Area or adventuring out in the wilderness any chance she gets. Follow her on Instagram @jennymaier, but only if you like smiles and miles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org