After hard work and dedication, Mike Davis qualified for the 2018 Boston Marathon (he missed the 2017 cutoff by 15-days). Mike is one of Kippo’s earliest advocates and one of my best friends. While I’m more of a hobby runner, I like getting better. When I need tips from somebody who knows how to couple plain language with actionable insights, Mike is my go to guy. Here are five ideas Mike shared that helped me get more joy out of pounding the pavement.
1. Short, Gliding Steps
When Mike runs, even though he’s six feet tall, you notice he takes short steps that glide atop the pavement. Mike told me the best runners in the world, short and long distance runners alike, typically take about 180 steps per minute. That is an average of three steps per second. This tip has changed my stride and reduced the pounding on my knees. I concentrate on feeling like a rope is tied around my hips and is pulling me forward. If you’re looking straight ahead and the view is bouncy, you’re not gliding enough. By taking short steps that stay low to the ground, you’ll create a cadence that’s built for long-distances. And even if you don’t go far, it’s easier on your body.
2. Cover the Distance
The first time I cracked double digit mileage, I was running with Mike. It was the most memorable run of my life. The night before, we decided to run the Frisco Trail in Joplin, Missouri. When I opened the blinds that morning, snow tipped the trees and giant flakes were fluttering to the ground. Mike unloaded his dogs, Winslow and Lulu, and we cranked out three miles, ending up back at the car where we dropped off the dogs. I remember asking Mike if our run was less valuable since we stopped and he said it didn’t really matter as long as we covered the distance. In my mind, a 10-mile run only counted if you didn’t stop, which was flawed thinking. The goal isn’t non-stop running, it’s covering the distance. If you set-out to do a six mile run, who cares if you have to grab water. Don’t pigeonhole yourself and make excuses that sabotage the joy and the accomplishment of covering great distances. Run. Stop. Walk. Skip. Drink water. I now think, cover the distance and don’t be a purist.
As a former cross country coach, Mike has a fair number of mental tricks. One day during a 12-mile run with his team, they ran straight down a long trail and at six miles Mike said, “Well, that’s 12.” The kids were confused and told Mr. Davis that was only six miles. He said, “There’s only one way to get back, so we’re basically done.” Out-and-back running is a solid strategy for keeping yourself committed to the distance. If you ever feel like you might give up and take a bail out route, run out-and-backs.
4. When You’re Having Fun, You’ve Won
If you’re miserable, and absolutely hate running, you’re losing. But when you’re having fun, you’ve already won. Find a way to make your workout enjoyable. Although I don’t do it as much as I’d like, for me, running with a friend is much more fun that going solo. To make things fun, if you need to listen to music, find fresh trails, or just dress in funny clothes, do it. This is your health and it should include having a good time. To make workouts fun, I need variety. I like to do CrossFit, run, cycle, and explore new trails. Evaluate the variables you need for fun and make sure to give yourself what you need, or else you might start to slip.
5. Do Work, Son...Speed Work That Is
Mike went from fast to faster. How? Speed work. Here’s an easy way to get started: run 800-meter repeats. For example, do this six times: run 800-meters at a fast pace, then slow down and jog or walk 400 meters. This type of workout will take your race times down. This is one piece of advice I need to do a better job following. In CrossFit workouts, I get a fair amount of speedwork, but I haven’t done dedicated track-style workouts. Mike swears by speedwork and since, for the first time, he qualified for the Boston Marathon, it must have worked.
A million thanks to Mike for being a great friend and, even if he didn’t know it, an awesome coach. I am proud of you for qualifying for Boston!
Do you have some tips and tricks to share? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook.