5 Things We Can All Learn From Elite Female Runners
We might not all be race-winners, elite runners or even top club runners. But we can all learn from the habits and experiences of running’s Pro women.
Persistence, Not Perfection
You might think that the sport’s top elite female runners get everything right, every time. Training runs, sleep, nutrition, supplements…. The truth is, they’re human just like us. They have partners, kids and obligations to sponsors (and often have other jobs, too). And they also have feelings, emotions and cravings. Of course, they have more to lose than we do by making poor food choices, by staying up too late on Facebook, or by putting their family’s needs before their own. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that elite runners are successful because their lives and schedules are perfect. What sets them apart (aside from genetics, and years of training) is consistency, and a refusal to let small setbacks affect the bigger picture.
The lesson? Next time you slip off your nutrition plan, miss a training session, or get a bad night’s sleep, let it go and move forward with your “bigger picture” goals as a runner.
Run To Fit Your Lifestyle
Yes, elite runners probably have more time to run than we do (after all, it’s what their lives are centred around). But there’s no reason to think that they are up at 5:30am running 20 miles, or missing family time to do hill sprints at tea time. Even professional runners try to fit training in around their lives, and not the other way round. We can all learn a lot from that: you don’t get extra brownie points for making running a difficult chore or a hassle.
The lesson? Make running fit the rest of your life, rather than re-arranging life to fit your hobby. It’s normal, healthy and balanced. The extra sleep will mean you’re stronger and more rested when you do run.
Don’t Run Hard And Fast Every Single Time
Elite runners don’t run fast (or long) every single training session. In fact, quite the opposite. The most successful runners know about periodisation, rest days, deload weeks and tapering. And remember that these are ladies who have been genetically blessed with great biomechanics. So, if even these runners know when to take their foot off the gas, we definitely should!
The lesson? There’s no need to make every single training session as hard as possible. A successful and sustainable approach to running training includes rest, breaks and deloads. But you also need to know when to push it!
Know The Difference Between Fatigue And Real Pain
Contrary to all those “fit-spiration” quotes you see online, the best runners know not to push through real pain and suffering, even in their most important races. They know to look at the bigger picture of their career, and make the (often difficult) decisions which mean they live to run another day. Good runners know the difference between a hard effort, and real pain, between exhaustion and a mindset block. Know what else we can learn from elite runners’ performances in tough races? The importance of maintaining good running form, keeping things tight, and concentrating on technique when things start to get difficult.
The lesson? Know how and when to recognise real pain (and potential injury) and stay healthy and fit enough to train, run and race long into the future.
Nervous Excitement Is A Positive Thing!
Even the most experienced and successful runners – including Olympic medallists and Commonwealth Games winners – get nervous before races. Nerves and excitement are a sign of a passionate, fired-up runner who knows she needs to fight for victory. The best runners never get complacent, because they know that every race needs to be worked for. Nerves spike adrenalin, which will help us kick things up a notch on race day.
The lesson? Embrace your pre-race nerves and think of them as a positive thing which will help you run better. And know that the front runners are feeling nervous, too, just like you!