Broad Street Run Training: Mental Strategies to Power Through a Race

5 Lessons We Can All Learn From the Philadelphia Running Community

A very rainy Broad Street Run in 2016 | Photo by Adjua Fisher

No matter how many miles you log preparing, there’s no escaping that point in the race when your breathing becomes more difficult, your legs feel heavier, and your ability to keep pace feels, well, completely out of reach. Slowing down seems inevitable — but it doesn’t have to be. What you choose to do in this moment is completely within your control.

For most, the goal of training is to develop the cardiovascular and muscular systems in preparation for the physical demands of running. However, runners are much more than lungs, heart and muscles. There’s another system, with perhaps a bigger role, signaling your lungs to contract, your heart to beat and your legs to move: your brain.

Racing at your absolute physical limit involves a lot of mental perseverance, the ability to disregard pain, discomfort and negative thoughts. Below are mental strategies to employ to get through those tough times.

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Broad Street Run Training: The One Skill to Practice Now for a Stronger Race Day

If I asked you to run six miles, making each mile slightly faster than the previous, could you do it? The truth is, most runners would struggle with this task, failing within the first two or three miles. If you are one of those runners who finds your first few miles or reps are always your fastest, I suggest you think about changing that. Don’t worry: I’ll show you how.

One of the most important skills a runner can have is the ability to “run by feel.” Running by feel is the ability to inwardly and accurately assess pace in relation to effort. While running by feel is a lot easier said than done and takes years to truly master, there is something you can do during each run to get better at it: Learn how to get faster throughout your runs.

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Broad Street Run Training: Two 10-Minute Workouts That Will Help You PR

Let’s say you have two identical bicycles, one with treaded mountain bike tires and the other with smooth road bike tires. Which bike would you rather ride on the roads? The obvious choice, of course, would be the one with road tires. Here’s why: Road tires will have less resistance, meaning you’ll get further with each pedal. You’ll be more efficient on a bike with road tires and therefore will be able to achieve higher speeds with less energy.

What do bicycle tires have to do with running? Similar to the road tires, the more efficient your running stride, the less resistance and energy will be needed at any given pace, and as a result your pace will feel easier. This is what’s called running economy, “a measure of how much fuel it takes for you to travel a certain distance,” according to Runner’s World. Your takeaway is this: The more efficient you are, the less energy you spend.

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Broad Street Run Training: How to Nail Down a (Realistic) Goal Race Pace

Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

Odds are, at this point in your Broad Street training you’ve landed upon a finishing time goal. There’s also a good chance your goal has varied based on your daily training. On good days you may think, “I’m feeling so good. I’m going to crush that goal!” While after a rough training run, thoughts of doubt creep into your head.

Deciding on a goal race pace can seem much like an intimidating guessing game where, if you guess wrong, you’re headed towards a world of hurt. While there’s no magic formula to guarantee your goal pace is correct, there are steps you can take to help narrow the number down to a realistic goal.

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Broad Street Run Training: Do You Really Need to Cross Train?

For most of us, our time available to train for a race is limited by work, family and life’s more pressing issues. This can lead to either-or situations: “Should I run Friday or go to a cross-training spin class?”

You may recall a Broad Street Run training post from last year called “Why You Shouldn’t Skip Your Cross-Training Days.” In this post, I outlined four different types of cross-training activities: cardiovascular exercises, strength, flexibility (or what I call mobility) and drills. I included what they were, why you should do them and how to incorporate them. While I still recommend everyone should be cross training, not everyone should spend the same amount of time and focus on cross training. How much and what type of cross training you should be doing varies greatly depending on your experience level and goals.

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Broad Street Run Training: Follow These 2 Simple Rules to Become a Better Runner

At face value, running seems like a very simple sport. All you need is a pair of shoes and the will to exhaust yourself and that’s it: You’re a runner. At the beginning, getting better is pretty simple, right? Just keep running. For the most part, the more you run, the better you’ll become.

However, at some point, the novelty of being a beginner wears off and you may find yourself struggling to improve. Then you’ll probably spend hours upon hours searching the Internet for anything running related in hopes of finding the secret to becoming a better runner. But the Internet is a deep black hole full of running knowledge and fads, some good, and some bad. So let me save you the trouble: I’m sorry to say, there is no one secret to running.

There is no one magic workout, no one training plan that’s best, no one form fix that will suddenly make you faster. Instead, the secret to running lies in a few golden rules that all good coaches and smart athletes follow. Elite runners live and train by these rules. These aren’t fads, but time-tested guidelines proven to produce results.  Read more »

10 Weeks to a 10-Miler: Your Broad Street Run Training Plan

Photo by M. Edlow for VISIT PHILADELPHIA™

Photo by M. Edlow for VISIT PHILADELPHIA™

So, you got into the Broad Street Run — congrats! Now only 10 weeks of training stand between you and the finish line at the Navy Yard.

The average runner will invest over 72 hours pounding the pavement training for the Broad Street Run. While those 72 hours will greatly determine what the finish-line clock will read, there is perhaps one determinant of your success that most people ignore. It doesn’t include running, lifting weights or even getting off the couch, but rather a pen and paper.

Ready for it? You need to have a plan.

A successful race-training plan is well thought-out, written down and kept visible for you to see daily. And I hate to break it to you, but haphazardly running while increasing your mileage each week is not a plan.

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