Going from a Casual to Serious Runner: How to Up Your Game!
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Going from a Casual to Serious Runner: How to Up Your Game | Runfessions Link Up

Ever since my first Baltimore Marathon experience in 2015, I’ve had one major running goal: To qualify for the Boston Marathon by my 50th birthday. I’m now 47. Meaning I have less than three years to do this.


So a few weeks ago, I’ve decided to kick things into gear and take steps to transition from a casual runner to serious runner instead of just doing the bare minimum. And since today is Runfessions Friday over at Marcia’s Healthy Slice, I joining the blog link-up by runfessing my previous slacker ways and how I plan on ending them!

Going from Casual to Serious Runner: How to Up Your Game

From Casual to Serious Runner: How to Up Your Game!Now, when I say “serious” runner, I don’t mean by adding mileage or signing up for a particular race. One glance at my credit card receipts tells you I’m signed up for enough already. No, I mean by taking the sport more seriously … taking myself seriously instead of getting by with little effort, because–here comes my runfession–I’ve sort of been slacking for most of 2016.

Well, take out the “sort of.” I’ve been slacking.

And if I want to make my Boston dream a reality, that needs to change. Like, NOW. So here are the ten ways how I’m…

Going from a Casual to Serious Runner

aka How I’m Upping my Running Game!

For those who prefer the video version…

1.) Track your shoes!

This is a horrible runfession, but I’ve never tracked my shoes in the three years I’ve been training. My current ones? No clue how many miles are on those bad boys … surely over the 300 – 500 recommended mileage for running shoes. And it’s so easy to track! Many running apps such as Runkeeper, (my personal favorite,) has an option for you to select which shoes you were wearing. Easy peezy, #noexcuses!

And while I’m tracking my mileage, I also need to…

2.) Track your training progress

The way I’m tracking my training plan and progress is with the Believe Training Journal by Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas. I first learned about this gem of a journal from Chris Smith over at Team Shenanigans who mentioned it on their Facebook page. Seeing as how I’m a total journal addict, I ran right to Amazon to purchase it!

I love how this journal is not dated so you can start anytime, plus there’s sections to track your annual mileage, your goals and dreams, your weekly training logs, etc. There’s also tons of advice, quizzes, training tips, and much more. If you’re a journal addict like me, you’ll love it!

3.) Invest in better running apparel and equipment

I own about twelve sports bras.

Out of those twelve, I only like two of them, meaning if they are both dirty and I have a long run to do, I’ll dig the least-offensive one out of the laundry basket and wear it again.

Yeah, I know. That’s gross.

But don’t even act like you’ve never done that as well.

For me, investing in better apparel means buying at least two more. No, make that three. After all, my mother–who is THE MOST FRUGAL person you’ll ever met, always says you MUST  invest in the proper tools to get the job done. Running is a super huge commitment, one that puts a lot of strain and stress on your body, so it’s important to invest in tools that will make you more comfortable, that will help you perform better, and keep injuries at bay, whether this includes a Garmin, better shoes, hydration belts, and for me … sports bras.

So yeah. Mom was right.

How to go from a Casual to Serious #Runner! #runchat #werunsocial #running Click To Tweet

4.) Foam Roll or use The Stick daily

I hate foam rolling. It hurts my wrists and back so even though my calves desperately need muscle therapy, I’d procrastinate the heck out of foam rolling.

Enter The Stick.

Oh, how I love this painful little bad boy! I first discovered it at the Tower of Terror 10-Miler Expo and when the sales gal hit a sore spot on my calves during a demonstration? Good Lord. I went through the roof, proving it was a purchase I had to make. And I need to use it daily, since massage therapy helps to relieve muscle pain, increases range of motion, flexibility, and really is a no pain, no gain kind of thing.

5.) Run Early in the Morning

We all know why it’s best to run early in the morning, right? Let’s tally the reasons, shall we?

  • It’s cooler in the summer.
  • Getting your workout done early means you won’t have to worry about it all day.
  • Your willpower is stronger in the morning, meaning less procrastination.
  • You won’t have to shower again.

But even with these reasons, I’ve been putting my workouts off until later in the evening, choosing instead to use those prime morning moments to write, blog, or do paperwork for our family construction business. Problem is, I’m pooped by the evening, so I’m not putting in enough effort into my runs, getting the full benefit.

And then there’s the whole needing a shower before bed, which I really hate.

So yeah. My butt. Outta bed. EARLY.

6.) Research ways to support your training through nutrition, hydrations, and products

Here’s an area where I’ve yet to find a balance.

When I trained for the 2015 Goofy Challenge, I was famished all the time, so I ate everything under the sun. Cookies. Cheesecake. All the holiday yumminess that I normally avoid. And guess what … I lost weight, something that still blows my mind!

But then while training for the 2016 Dopey Challenge, despite logging more miles and thinking I was consuming enough calories … I gained weight. Now, that’s common for those training for long distances, so gaining weight in itself isn’t worrisome. But the fact that I was always exhausted was. This was from not consuming enough calories … and the right kind of calories. So now that I have Goofy 2017 in my horizon, I will be tracking not only my training progress, but also what I’m eating.

This includes also learning more about products other than Gu to consume before, during and after a race. One thing that I have recently discovered, (thanks to my friend, James,) is salt supplements like SaltStick Electrolyte Replacement Capsules. This has been a great help for my sodium issues!

And as for hydration, have you discovered the Plant Nanny App yet? Oh my goodness. It’s so effective. You get to choose a cute plant–one with adorably blinking eyes, and if you don’t drink enough water … then that plant will DIE. As in dead, with crosses over those cutie-pie eyes. You don’t want your plant to die, do you? Then drink your water.

7.) Cross Train

Another past mistake of mine is not doing enough cross training. For example, after coming home from the Dopey Challenge, I decided to mix things up a little by doing an Insanity workout rather than running.

Now, you would think that somebody who had trained enough to do nearly 50 miles in four days surely could handle an Insanity workout, right?


Oh my goodness. It absolutely kicked me in the rear, proving I wasn’t as fit as I had thought. So while I’m training for the Chicago Marathon, I’m adding Beach Body’s Hard Corps as well as a weekly yoga or pilates session.

8.) Train Smarter

Pace runs and Tempo and Fartleks, oh my! Along with cross training, I need to put more of an effort in my running. Right now, I’m doing Hal Hidgon’s Novice 2 training plan for the Chicago Marathon, which calls for a Pace Run on Wednesdays.

Another runfession: I had no clue what a pace run was until I looked it up.

So now that I know a pace run is a training session where you run at the pace you’d like to use for the race you’re training for, I need to start doing them. As well as hill work, speed and tempo work, and yes, fartleks which according to Wikipedia, “is simply defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running.”

Yeah. This running blogger has a lot to learn.

9.) Less Treadmill runs … or Treadmill Smarter!

I must admit. I’m a sicko who actually loves running on the treadmill. But come on, no heat? Or reason to layer on the sunblock? A bathroom nearby? No need to carry water or Gatorade plus a television, what’s not to love? And it’s easy doing double duty on a treadmill since I often watch YouTube videos about writing, blogging, or vlogging, educating both mind and body.

All of this would all be fine and dandy if I put more effort into treadmill runs by increasing my speed and varying the incline rather than just plodding along. So either I need to focus more on performance while on the treadmill … or get my rear outside where there are hills aplenty!

How to go from a Casual to Serious #Runner! #runchat #werunsocial #running Click To Tweet

10.) Recover Smarter!

Oh boy. Yeah. This is a biggie for me since I’ve gotten lazy about my post-race routine. Lately, I’ve been grabbing a beer instead of making a protein smoothie. And instead of taking an ice bath to help reduce inflammation in my legs, I’m grabbing a quick shower … or hanging out with my husband with said beer. Then there’s The Stick sessions I’ve been avoiding. And not eating enough, or hydrating enough. All of which is bad, very bad.

So now, I have a specific list of steps I need to take, especially for runs over the six mile mark:

  1. Cool down with a 3 to 5 minute walk.
  2. Stretch thoroughly!
  3. Eat a solid protein meal or have a smoothie within thirty minutes.
  4. Take a hot shower for shorter runs or an ice bath for runs over 10 miles.
  5. Rehydrate with water … not beer!
  6. Although once the above steps have been completed, a beer is totally allowed. 😉

So there you have it! The ten steps I am taking to go from a more casual to serious runner. Have I missed anything or do you have a suggestion? Please leave them in the comments below, as well as any questions you may have.

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Thanks for reading, and have a joyful day

Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger, vlogger, wife to an amazing guy for 26 years, mom of two wonderful boys, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that plus she can quote most lines from Talladega Nights. Shake and bake!

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  1. This is so exciting! The other thing I did when I was running BQ’s was visualizing success. I’d visualize that final stretch of the marathon and play it over in my head when I did training runs and pretend I was feeling strong and capable. It helped me will it to come true and it motivated me to be more committed to the whole process. Yay! I hope to see you in Chicago. I’m always at the 13 mile marker cheering! Thanks for linking up!

  2. You’ve really given me some motivation to work on the behind the scenes things–foam rolling and stretching! I have no excuse for my lack of progress on my strength goals–I haven’t been doing my homework.

  3. These are good tips. I’m not good at tracking anything but good equipment, cross-training, foam rolling, good nutrition — all of those are so important!

  4. Lori says:

    Thanks for the tips and the humor! I enjoyed watching your video, and I also have low salt issues when I run. I can’t wait to try those capsules!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it and good luck with your salt issues! 🙂

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