US 800m runner Ryan Martin hung up his spikes earlier this year following a decade-long international career that included medals at the Pan-American Games and NACAC Championships.
During his time as an athlete, he learned many valuable lessons in how to create a training routine and stick to it. Here are four of his key pieces of advice.
Keep a training log
Training logs – whether online or in paper form – are an invaluable tool for athletes, whatever the event or ability.
“I’ve become a slave to my training log,” says Martin. “I love to fill it out and check the box. I know that if I can go out there and get my run in and get my stretch in, I can check the box and say, ‘okay, I did that for today’. I like completing tasks. That gets me going.”
Consistency is key
Regular sessions help create good training habits while also improving a base level of fitness.
“A normal training day varies depending on the time of year,” says Martin. “In the off-season I’ll do a lot of early morning runs. I’ll go for an eight-mile run in the morning, then maybe in the afternoon we’ll do a second run over a shorter distance, a nice easy 30-minute run as a kind of shake-out.”
Drill down on the basics
Incorporating drills into your training will ensure the right movements become second nature.
“Sometimes we’ll do drills where we’ll work on the arms – you know, the punching-the-sky thing – or we’ll do high knees. We’ll critique our own form and build on that,” says Martin.
“The drills help me keep my form in tact when I start running hard later in the season. It’s building that neuromuscular pathway. If I repeat the motion of doing this over and over again, then when I get into a race and the pain starts coming or I start thinking of other things, then my form is already set in stone. It’s second nature to me.”
When injured, focus on the future
Being injured can be a frustrating time for any athlete. But to ensure you don’t get stuck in a funk, try to look ahead to a time when you are fully fit.
“I try to picture myself in the future when I’m healthy and not injured,” says Martin. “If you dwell on the moment when you’re hurt and you’re not thinking towards the future, you’re going to stay in that moment longer and it’s just not going to be as good.
“When I was hurt, I was like, ‘why am I doing this? I’m not having fun’. But thinking to the future when you know you’re going to get healthy – because that’s what happens; you’re not going to be hurt forever – and then when you’re eventually in that state, you’ll think, ‘oh, it wasn’t that bad. I got through it’. You’ll look back on your injury and learn from it.”