How To Be the Best Runner You Can Be

My running career began in 2013 when I ran my first Broad Street run. It was 10 miles and my very first run beyond a 5K. This weekend I'm attempting to PR at the Bronx 10 Mile. Do I feel super prepared? Nope. But I did run 9.8 miles last week and I survived. I've also worked on my speed the past few months and this week I'm staying hydrated and healthy. Even if you don't feel super prepared, you can still be prepared enough for your race. Get it?

So, how do you become the best runner you can be? First, that requires you not compare yourself to others. We are all different runners. Some of us are sprinters; others (like me) run marathons. Some people are lean and tall; others short and muscular. Different bodies, different capabilities, none are better than the others. So, as you start or continue your running career, refrain from comparing yourself to others. It will do you no good.

Remember these 6 things as you go further with your running:

1. Stay hydrated and eat healthy. Drink as much water as you can, especially before a humid run. Eat your greens, healthy fats and protein. I'm not saying don't treat yourself to sweets but bulk up on healthy stuff especially 2 weeks before a long race.

2. Strength train. I bought weights, a kettlebell, a foam roller and workout bands and I work out at home. You don't need a gym or anything fancy. Make a killer playlist and look up workouts online and go to town. Build your glutes and hamstrings, strengthen your core and rock out your planks. I started strength training a few months ago and it's amazing how it helps my running. My back pain is way less and my running is easier. Build muscle.

3. Cross train. Bike, swim, do yoga, dance...and build muscle. The single best thing that helped me during marathon training was biking. It gave me a break from running while keeping my endurance up. It can't all be about running all the time. Your body needs a break. Also important? REST. Take plenty of rest days.

4. Figure out how many days a week you need to run. If I run more than 3 days a week, I risk injury so I was able to train for the marathon by running just 3 times a week. One run was a speed workout, one a tempo run and one was my long run. It worked.

5. STRETCH! Do yoga or just stretch. Stretch your calves, hamstrings, glutes. Do downward dog and pedal out your calves. Do forward folds and stretch your back. Stretch after strength training, they work so well with each other.

6. Prepare yourself for runs. If you can't just bust out a 10 mile run, take 24 hours to think about it. Plan a run the next day and get your mind around the run the day before. Hydrate and stretch. Don't work your legs that much since you will be running alot. Prepare at least 24 hours ahead of time and it will make a difference.

Running is AMAZING; you just need to stay healthy. Running takes alot out of your body. It can be detrimental when you ignore pain and overtrain. It takes alot of fuel from your muscles, you need to eat enough to be able to cross the finish line and you need to be mentally prepared. Find out what drives you to get up early and run a half marathon. What motivates you to cross the finish line? Think of that motivation often and get out there and kill it!