Updated: Mar 15, 2021
While you’re on your journey to better run form, it’s important to remember that no run is exactly the same. It’s easy to go out and think “I want today to be better than yesterday” or “I want this to be the best run ever” or some version of that. And while improving can be motivating, keep in mind that there are many factors that impact your run. Because of this your gains or losses from one day to the next may not actually have to do with your progress, but more to do with changing conditions. So don’t beat yourself up about it.
Some of the factors are controllable to a degree and some are out of your control. The more factors that vary between runs, the higher the probability that your outcomes will vary between those runs. When these are uncontrollable, there is not much you can do, so don’t make day to day gains or losses too significant. It’ll stress you out and hinder your progress.
Here is a quick list of some factors that I know impact my workouts:
Terrain - Where you run locally. Are there hills, false flats, crowds of people or turns? These things make each route different and less comparable. When you travel to a race, there are factors like altitude that will impact your run. These are controllable to a degree, but if you’re set on doing the Edmonton marathon, you can’t control Edmonton’s altitude and the change will impact your body. Even if you hold the terrain/route constant from run to run, there are other factors that you can’t control.
Weather - This can be a big impact on your run. Is it cold, hot, humid, windy, rainy or snowy? These conditions change from day to day and they’re simply not in your control. The best thing you can do is get out and experience them so that if they happen on race day you’re more mentally prepared to deal with them
Weight - We all fluctuate from month to month or year to year, whether that's from lack of exercise, cross training or putting on muscle mass. Having an additional 10lbs makes a difference. Image running tomorrow with a rucksack weighing 10 or 20 lbs. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but it’s going to impact your run. Even carrying 5lbs of water weight will impact you. Don’t beat yourself up over a slow run, it could just be water weight or some additional muscle. Your body will adapt with consistent running.
Strength - How strong are your secondary and primary muscles? The primary muscles push you forward and the secondary gives you stability to help keep that forward motion from going side to side. As you run more and these muscles get stronger, your runs will change. This is the same if you stop training or do targeted muscle training.
Fatigue during the Run - This may seem obvious, but as you exert effort, your body becomes fatigued. That goes for both primary and secondary muscles. This means you’ll slow down and your form will regress. That's life and applies to any sport. So notice it on the run and know that it's natural and inev