Of all the ways that you could improve as a runner, none is more powerful than honing your “mental fitness” to beat anxiety, improve consistency, and boost motivation.
That’s because in 2019, we’ve largely figured out how to train runners physically. There are some minor differences between respectable coaching philosophies but they’re not wildly dissimilar.
For example, no prominent running program in the world (high school, college, elite) advocates low mileage and high intensity. We tried that in the 1940’s and 1950’s but have moved on (CrossFit Endurance is still playing catch up).
We also tried high mileage and virtually no intensity (i.e., almost all of the runs were easy), leading to the surge in American marathon dominance in the 1970’s and ’80’s. Think “Boston Billy” Rodgers winning a slew of Boston and NYC marathons using this approach.
Advances in exercise science and testing equipment and methods has allowed us to figure that we need both: a healthy mix of aerobic work and fast, intense repetitions (though, not as much as we previously thought).
Author Matt Fitzgerald summed this up nicely:
A high-volume, mostly low-intensity approach will still rule [in the future], because it simply cannot be improved upon. The only real alternatives—training less and doing everything fast—have been tried and they don’t work as well.
But while we’ve mostly cracked the case on how to train runners, that doesn’t mean that we’ll never improve and get faster (as a species, not as individuals). Because there are always more factors that can be improved:
If I had to wager on the area that has the most promise – for any runner – it’s training the brain. Shifts in mindset, outlook, and how you think about running can unlock new levels of mental toughness, motivation, anxiety management, and focus.
Ever been a few miles from the finish of a race and dark self-talk creeps into your brain, advising you to slow down because you’re not fast enough? Then you understand how a change in perspective can be a game-changer!
I wanted to bring on a high-level runner and coach who understands this concept to talk more about a single aspect of your mindset: happiness.
Please welcome Megan Roche to the podcast to discuss her new book The Happy Runner.
Megan Roche on Being a Happy Runner (and why it will help you run faster)
Megan Roche is a professional runner for HOKA ONE ONE and the 2016 USA Track & Field Trail Runner of the Year at the ultra and sub-ultra distances.
A five-time national champion, she’s also the North American Mountain Running Champion and a six-time member of Team USA.
Her new book The Happy Runner: Love the Process, Get Faster, Run Longer was written with her husband David Roche (also an elite runner who contributed to our Little Black Book of Recovery & Prevention) and presents a unique and compelling view of how to excel as a distance runner.
In it, she discusses a wide range of fascinating topics for runners:
- The difference between hard and fast – and when to prioritize each
- How to define “the process”
- Why kindness can help you become a better runner
And of course, Megan and David cover the training side of things with a focus on how to get the most out of your body.
In this podcast conversation, Megan and I talk about:
- Can positivity make you a more robust runner?
- Does running make people more optimistic?
- Why is running “meaningless?”
- How her medical degree has impacted her training
- A lot more…
Show Links & Resources:
Thank you Megan for speaking with us today and sharing your love of running! This was a fun and helpful episode that’s a great way to start the new year.
Thank You Inside Tracker
This episode was made possible by Inside Tracker who is offering a 10% discount with code strengthrunning at checkout.
They test over 40 biomarkers, like various stress hormones, to determine if you’re training too hard, too little, or have any physiological weaknesses that can be remedied by either diet, exercise, or lifestyle changes.
In other words, you learn about problems that have actionable solutions.
After getting your results, they communicate what you can do to lift or lower your results into the optimal range. For any runner who wants every advantage, to see what they’re truly capable of achieving, I highly recommend Inside Tracker.
Don’t forget to use code strengthrunning to save 10% on any test (including their affordable DIY and Essentials)!