Running Tips from a Pro Track Athlete

Steven Benedict,

One of the greatest exercises you can do to keep your body in peak condition, your mind with clarity of thought, and your heart strong as a horse is running. It may not be everyone’s first choice of attack in reaching that next level of performance, but after lacing up and completing your first run — feeling that sense of accomplishment with endorphins coursing through your body — you’ll be back for another and another as the results compile.

To help you on your way to breaking down new barriers both as an athlete and a runner, I’ve decided to share some of my (and my coaches’) best training tips, which I use in my own daily regimen. Here they are:

1. Choose the Right Running Gear

Just as with any sport, you can’t perform to your maximum potential without the proper tools to do so. A good pair of training shoes for tempo work and an aggressive pair of sprinting spikes for speed work are in my bag at all times. Don’t skimp on your shoes! In the sport of running, your feet are your weapons.

2. Have a Knowledgeable Coach and / or Training Partner

In every aspect of life, guidance is key. A knowledgeable coach can accelerate your progress, just the same as an unknowledgeable coach can hinder it. Finding a coach that is in line with the type of athlete you are could take a little hunting. A great place to start is to reach out to other athletes that have accomplished what you strive to. When you find that fit, be a sponge and soak up as much knowledge from your coach as possible, and work hard during each session with him or her.

3. Warm-up Well Before Performing Each Session

The key to warming up properly is not just to get a good sweat on, it’s to get your nervous system firing and awake and ready to work.

You’ll likely see many other athletes stretching non-stop before and during their training sessions. Don’t follow the crowd — these are headed for an injury. Instead, be sure to perform a dynamic warm-up before your workout. These are stretches and movements you don’t for an extended period of time (examples include skipping, leg swings, mobility drills, and speed drills). Why should you do dynamic stretches? Easy! By holding long stretches, you over extend the muscles — depleting them of power output — which raises the percentages of strains, tears, and pulls. As a rule of thumb, always perform dynamic stretches before your training session or event, and static stretches afterward.

4. Fuel the Machine

If you have a Ferrari and a Kia sedan, would you put the same gas in both tanks to perform? Of coarse not. So as an athlete who demands the most out of your body each day in performance, you should consume only the best to fuel it. To be specific, your diet should be high in veggies, fruits, grains, and mono-saturated fats. Your protein sources should consist of fish and chicken (along with red meat once a week if you need the iron). Your diet will conduct both your performance and recovery, and it is your greatest weapon. Fuel your body like it’s a Ferrari, not a dump truck!

5. Stay in Your Working Zone

It’s no big secret, you know when you are working hard and you know when you are sandbagging it. Want to keep yourself honest in knowing if you gave it your all in any particular session or if you’ve half assed it? Get yourself a heart rate monitor! That’s what I bring to every practice with me and my coaches do as well. I wear mine during every rep and warm-up. Your heart rate monitor will be a valuable tool to have in your arsenal to getting to your ideal race weight and overall fitness level. Let your heart rate guide you — stay in your zone!

6. The “Core” of Running

You can workout every body part until you are blue in the face but if your core is weak I promise you, you will crumble trying to perform. The term “core” should say it all. It is your body’s centerpiece — the area where all your power is generated from and the key to developing a strong athlete. The greatest thing about training your core is that you can train it everyday building up a powerhouse of strength. It controls your posture, positioning during running, and ability to take in more oxygen to train. Want more? Strengthen your core!

7. Relax to Your Max

Learning to relax when you sprint might be the most valuable trait you can develop to get quality results. Sprinting is a power movement, but where most make the mistake is when they’re trying to force it as if they were in the gym. Your power comes from finesse on the track staying relaxed keeping your movements fluid. The more relaxed you are, the more efficient your body can move. A good training protocol is doing more reps at a slower pace while focusing on how relaxed and efficient you can be through your runs. This will not only help you build great form, but it’s also valuable conditioning for running.

8. Recover for a Better Tomorrow

Training hard day in and day out is great, but the other half of that equation is learning how to help your body recover in order to get back out there for that next day. Beating up my body about 4hrs a day will catch up with me very quickly, so I’ve learned that a great recovery plan goes a long way. Things like ice-baths, massages, a.r.t work, laser treatment, and chiropractic work are just a few methods you’ll find in my program. Keep this in mind when thinking about performance and recovery: If you are going to do the damage; you have to do the maintenance.

9. Run for You

It’s an athlete’s nature to be competitive, but staying within yourself is crucial to your development and mindset. Every athlete is unique in his or her own strengths and weaknesses. With that said, we all progress at different rates. The worst thing you could do is compare yourself to the guy next to you — all that will do is make you take steps backward instead of strides forward. The grass may look greener on the other side, but staying on your path will prove you best.

10. Have a Mindset to Achieve

Before any of the above 9 tips can be achieved or attempted there’s one ingredient needed above all: You must believe in you as an athlete. Developing the mindset in seeing what you have not accomplished yet and believing you can achieve it is your first brick laid.

To help improve your mindset, be sure to set some time aside before or after every training session to visualize your victorious future self. Perhaps your goal is to win your next race or just be able to run and finish a 5k. Whatever your aim is, visualization will give you the momentum you need to keep pushing forward. See it, believe it, and achieve it!

Our athletic accomplishments will all vary and there is no one ‘secret formula’ that works for everyone across the board. Listen to your inner athlete, for you only know what is best for you. Take your time, be patient, and most of all have fun!

steven benedict's running tipsWritten by: Steven Benedict, Professional Track Athlete, Motivational Speaker, and Published Fitness Personality. For more motivating tips, follow Steven on Instagram and Twitter.


Categories: Fitness & Endurance Training, Fitness Tips & Motivation, Mio News