So you want to become a better runner then?
Don’t we all.
One way to move the needle a bit, like we’ve already talked about recently, is to add a few more miles to your regular workload.
Another option that could help you take a big step forward with your running: focus on consistency.
Consistency is Key
I’m a believer in the value of consistency.
There are few aspects of our lives, if any, where being consistent doesn’t make a massive difference.
Physical. Mental. Emotional. Relational.
I can’t think of a single example where a decrease in consistency brings about a performance improvement.
Consistency v Frequency
There’s a lot of overlap between these two terms, admittedly.
When I talk about a focus on consistency as a means to becoming a better runner, I’m not talking about how many days you run per week.
To me, that’s a frequency issue.
Sure, if you’re only running once a twice a week, an argument for increased frequency could be made.
And I suppose if you’re running two 10-milers a week, spreading those miles out a bit more would have a positive impact.
But, again, to me that’s frequency play.
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Instead of getting caught up in the minutiae of consistency and frequency, let’s look at a different way that improved consistency can help you be a better runner.
Well, three ways, actually.
Months and Years
One way that consistency can make a massive difference in your growth as a runner is in the big picture.
Maintaining a certain level of training for months and years (and decades!) instead of only being serious about your training during a build-up to a race is huge.
Does that mean that your running should look the same when building for a goal race and when you’re in more of a maintenance phase?
But consistently building and maintaining fitness year round, not just during a specific training cycle, is a game changer.
If part of your metric for becoming a better runner includes race day PRs, then racing consistently is a good idea.
I hesitated to add this point to the post, because some of you clowns will read this and assume I mean you should be racing as much as possible.
Races are tricky for a whole host of reasons.
And things can go sideways on race day for a whole host of reasons, only a few of which you have a fair bit of control over.
If you’re only racing once per year, it can be tough to feel like you’re improving if you have a poor performance due to weather or some other factor that you can’t control.
Multiple races per year won’t guarantee that everything will line up perfectly for any of them, but you’ll have a few more cracks at a PR.
And even if you have a year or few where every race day is a hot mess, racing consistently allows you to try different things in training and/or on race day that could be massively helpful to you on the day when everything does happen to fall into place.
While there are no guaranteed ways to avoid injury as a runner, staying healthy is kind of a big deal to your growth as a runner.
I mean, it’s kind of hard to train when you’re injured.
Doing the little things consistently goes a long way toward keeping the niggles at bay.
Can you still wind up with a niggle no matter how much foam rolling or yoga or cross training you do?
But you can’t convince me that doing the little things consistently doesn’t make a difference, both in staying healthy and in your overall running performance.
As Always, a Bit of Nuance
Consistency is a big deal, no doubt.
But it’s important to recognize that consistency and perfection are not the same thing.
There will be days when life happens and you miss a run or you don’t do the little things.
There may even be several days, or even a week, when things go sideways and it’s all you can do to keep your head above water.
When that happens?
Don’t run. Don’t foam roll. And don’t hit the weights, jump on the bike, or step onto the yoga mat.
Most of all, don’t feel like all is lost on the consistency front, because it’s not.
Remember how I mentioned that consistency is a big picture play?
In the big picture, zoomed out to months and years and decades, missing a few runs due to life doesn’t register at all.
Strive for consistency, yes.
But please don’t try to be perfect with your training, because that’s a virtual impossibility.
How Would You Rate Your Consistency as a Runner Over the Past Few Years?
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