Self, Suf­fi­cient

Are your top train­ing part­ners me, my­self and I? Here’s how to put your best foot for­ward when you’re alone

Runner's World (UK) - - In This Issue -

Run­ning solo


When you’re al­ways on your own, it’s easy to fall into a com­fort­able pace, week af­ter week. And that can keep you from see­ing im­prove­ments in fit­ness and per­for­mance. Cin­dra Kam­phoff, direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Sport and Per­for­mance Psy­chol­ogy at Min­nesota State Univer­sity, US, and a 3:05 marathoner, says it’s es­sen­tial to set goals and have a plan to reach them. If you want to get faster and lose weight, make Tues­days your speed­work day to help you pick up the pace and burn ex­tra calo­ries. Try an app such as Garmin Con­nect to track your runs and see your progress. Com­pet­i­tive? Strava lets you race against run­ners from around the world or just two streets away.


It’s tempt­ing to sleep in when no one is re­ly­ing on you to show up. But Jeff Brown, psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Med­i­cal School and co-au­thor of The Win­ner’s

Brain (Ro­dale), says a train­ing part­ner doesn’t have to be phys­i­cally wait­ing for you to pro­vide mo­ti­va­tion. ‘You and a friend in a dif­fer­ent place could sign up for a race and train “to­gether”, check­ing in with texts af­ter each run.’ So­cial me­dia can also pro­vide pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment. ‘Hav­ing an au­di­ence for your suc­cesses is a great way to re­in­force that be­hav­iour,’ says Kam­phoff. There are also vir­tual run­ning groups. The Sub-30 Club, founded by RW US colum­nist Ted Spiker, is one ex­am­ple of run­ners con­nect­ing on­line to keep each other mov­ing.


Run­ning isn’t all ex­cite­ment and eu­pho­ria, even for coach Heather Bur­roughs, who works with elites Kara Goucher and Jenny Simp­son. ‘There are days when I’m count­ing down the min­utes as soon as I step out the door,’ she says. Bur­roughs rec­om­mends mix­ing up your runs and your routes to help time pass faster. A lit­tle imag­i­na­tion helps, too, says Kam­phoff, who rec­om­mends play­ing mind games – vi­su­alise your­self fin­ish­ing the race you’re train­ing for or plan your next hol­i­day.


Solo runs are selfish runs – they’re all about your pace, your sched­ule, your body. And some days that’s just what you need; for ex­am­ple, if you’re nurs­ing an in­jury or an ill child kept you up half the night. In these cases, go­ing it alone rather than run­ning with a buddy, so you can set your own pace and dis­tance, will pre­vent you from go­ing too hard.

Check­ing in with a vir­tual run­ning buddy or group can help keep you mo­ti­vated.

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