Improve Your Running By Asking Yourself THIS Question

Before you step out for your next run ask yourself this, “What am I trying to accomplish?” Every run should have a PURPOSE.
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Defining the PURPOSE of every run is important for a lot of reasons:

* Motivation: The first obstacle with running is just DOING it. Set a goal, a purpose, REASON why you’re going out there. Whether it be to just have fun and enjoy the fun, to make sure you get some recovery miles in, build your base, hit the track, or toe the line for a race. It’s a lot harder to blow something off that is DEFINED rather than ambiguous. (ie: I guess, maybe, I could, like, go out and run, maybe?)
* Improved Workouts: If you’ve got a hard workout for the day, figure out the GOAL of that workout. Is it to improve your speed? Endurance? Hill strength? Know what the aim is, once defined as concrete it’s easier remember why it’s important to put in the WORK. Mentally, when it starts to hurt it’s a lot easier to keep pushing knowing that you are working towards a definite goal.
* Over-training: Setting a purpose for each run not only makes sure that you give it your best for hard workouts but it also has the same effect on those of us who tend to overdo it. Stop and think, “WHY am I going out for this run? Is it in the best interest of my long term plan, will these miles DO something for my running? Or, am I just running to run and these miles will just make me too tired for tomorrow’s workout?” See, the knife cuts both ways.

keep running

We keep running EVEN through those crummy runs.


* Perspective: Having the purpose set for each run makes our training look like a bunch of blocks, you’re building the runner you want to be. Some blocks are tiny and can’t hold that much weight (bad runs) but others are STRONG and make up for it (good runs). Thinking of it that way can help after those bad runs…it’s just ONE block…move onto the next.
* Fix a Weakness: I’m gonna send another shout-out to fixing your form and becoming a more efficient runner. Perhaps the last 1/2 mile of your next easy run should have the purpose of: “I will think of standing TALL every step of the last mile of my run.”
* Racing Long Term: Your training is not defined by a single run and your best race is NOT defined by a single run (day). No, what defines how well those races wind up is your cumulative training. Running is all about CONSISTENCY, all those runs leading up to your best race had a purpose, just like puzzle pieces that eventually make a kicak@$$ picture.

If you want your running to improve, set a PURPOSE for the run. Always know what you’re running towards because it helps get you out the door and GET IT DONE! 😉
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By the way this little trick works for de-stressing too. If you’re getting too wound up, putting too much pressure on yourself, and stressed about your runs think about it like this, “What am I trying to accomplish in this run?” Answers: “I want to leave my watch at home and run to enjoy it” , “I want to go explore a ton of new trails” , “I want to get OVER my phobia of the track, run for effort and not stress about splits.” See, it works. 😉
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1) Define a PURPOSE for your next run.

2) What was the purpose of your last run, if it was a hard workout, what kind?

3) Give me an example of a purpose for the run right after a really sucky run.
I’m not going to let the memories/thoughts of that sucky run effect my next run.
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30 thoughts on “Improve Your Running By Asking Yourself THIS Question

  1. Purpose of last run: Put in 5 easy, base building miles, and meet some new running friends.

    Purpose of next run: Long run – continue building length toward half-marathon.

    Incidentally, I’m with you 100% on this one. It’s definitely a useful exercise when you’re looking for purpose/direction/focus/motivation. I also use it as an exercise for runners who are trying to do too much with one workout, or mixing up the purposes of their workout Usually, this means they’re running too fast – easy runs too fast, intervals too fast, long tempos too fast, etc..

  2. Purpose of last run – run at a fairly steady pace for 150 minutes. Purpose of next run – force myself to run easy.

    I love all of the information you share about running. As someone who hasn’t run in a group or had a coach since college (20+ years ago), I’m learning a lot from reading this. Hopefully, applying it will help me cut down on injuries and be able to run more consistently!

  3. Damnit, Caitlin, where was this yesterday when I canned my hill repeats for an easier, less purposeful “sorta-hilly 8 miler”? Telling myself there’s a good reason slogging up and down a hill for 3 minutes is in my plan instead of thinking of it as torture may have kicked my ass into gear.

    (ps thank you love this)

    • thank YOU!! i’m glad u liked the post and next time remember that as much as we curse those damn hills we know they’re good for us. so come back here and tell me when u do get around to crushing them! 🙂
      PS- another way that’s helped me before is to remember how when i was injured, i woulda killed to do a hard running workout

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  5. YOU NAILED IT!!! I love what you wrote.
    To answer your questions:
    1. the purpose of my next run is just to add mileage and make it through with the allergies which are beating me up,
    2. The purpose of the run I just did was to enjoy an easy relaxing run outside in nice weather! Something, which we have been lacking with lots of rain, snow and ice.
    3. The purpose of running after a bad run… For me that is usually to prove to myself that I am good enough and that it was just one bad day. I belong on the trails/roads!

    • thanks!! i gotta say one can never tire of hearing that. 😉 hehe. ugh, good luck on the allergies front, if only those stupid pollen counts would act right…we got running to do!

  6. Tomorrow’s run will just be looking for a good 6-7 miles of easy base.

    My run today was intended to be an easy 4.5 mile recovery after a semi-tough workout yesterday. A cold rain started in the middle of my run, so I ran the second half too hard seeking to get out of the cold. Purposeful running is much easier when in a real training mentality with harder days and easier days. Just a few weeks ago I still was in a “running” mentality with no structure.

    The run right after a sucky one is all about getting the mental confidence back. I feel like our runner psyches are fragile, and sometimes one bad workout seems to undo the confidence built by the previous 50 good workouts.

  7. Great post, Cait. This is just what I needed to hear and put this in practice today. This was a “get in some easy miles before the race this weekend.” I seem to be obsessed with hitting my splits and pushing harder than I need to most days.

  8. oooh great post..making me really think and all 😉

    hmm. I’ve been mentally trying to prep myself for my next run…which is hopefully to run long. Slow down, run long, build up endurance..

  9. Love it! My new mantra – at least for the next week ;-). What is the purpose of my run? Perfect.

    After a sucky run, my purpose is to get back on track and do what I do well. I think.

  10. Last Run: Getting back on the road after a hectic few weeks
    Next Run: Increasing my endurance little by little

    After a dumb run: convincing myself that they won’t all suck and this one will be way better.

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