Whether you’re enthusiastic about running every day or you merely tolerate jogging as part of your regular exercise routine, you want to get the most out of your workout. While you’re likely to notice plenty of improvements at first, over time, your progress is bound to plateau. Rather than get frustrated and dial back your workouts, learn how to take them to the next level. Discover how an effective fitness tracker and the right mindset can ensure that you keep gaining progress during your run.

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Check Your Hydration

Without adequate hydration, you might never reach the finish line or take your performance to the next level. Ideally, you should hydrate throughout the day, starting when you wake up. The Mayo Clinic recommends that women drink 11.5 cups of water per day and that men drink 15.5 cups a day, preferably not all at once. Consider this a baseline hydration target, and supplement with additional water before, during, and after your run.

Always start hydrating before you even begin lacing up your shoes. If you’re planning a 90-minute run, drink an extra glass of water 90 minutes before you head out the door or hit the treadmill. Hydrate periodically throughout your run, with a goal of 4 ounces of water per mile. Immediately after your cooldown, drink another 8-ounce glass of water to keep your body going strong.

Get the Right Nutrients

To get past your plateau, make sure you’re consuming the right nutrients, too. While counting calories ensures that you get enough energy, tracking macronutrients helps you get the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat throughout the day.

Your ideal ratio may vary, but a typical flexible diet plan for runners includes 55 percent carbs, 30 percent fat, and 15 percent protein. The relatively high ratio of carbs ensures that you have enough energy to fuel your run. Your body converts carbs to glycogen, stores the extra energy in your muscles, and then draws on it during a long run. When your glycogen stores run low, you’re more likely to hit the wall and run out of energy.

Although you might be tempted to snack on energy gels or protein bars as a way of consuming energy and macros quickly, try to choose more nutritious options instead. Opt for whole foods like lean meats and fish, full-fat dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds. Sounds complicated? Download an app to track macros for you!

Improve Your Mindset

If you’ve been stuck at your current plateau for longer than you’d like to admit, you might be experiencing a mental block rather than physical limitations. It’s easy to get frustrated when you aren’t making the progress you want to see. If you aren’t careful, that can lead to a negative mindset.

You can start to turn your mindset around by identifying any negative thought patterns. When you find yourself complaining about the weather or telling yourself you can’t achieve your goals, replace those statements with positive affirmations. You’re capable of so much, and you’ve already made substantial strides. The next time you catch yourself putting negative energy out into the world, remind yourself about all the impressive goals you’ve already conquered, and use that as motivation to rise up to the next level.

Plan Longer Runs

One of the most effective ways to get more out of your workouts is to commit to longer runs. Even if your main goal is to run a faster mile or improve your strength, improving your endurance can give your fitness level a boost and help you make more progress in other areas.

For runners, gradual change is key. Rather than trying to double your mileage overnight, stick to the 10 percent rule, and never run more than 10 percent more than you did during the previous week. To increase your weekly mileage by 10 percent, add an extra mile to each day’s run. Make sure it’s sustainable, and then commit to your new weekly mileage count.

As you test your endurance, always watch for injuries. Runner’s knee, shin splints, stress fractures, and various types of tendinitis can result if you push yourself too hard.

Add Variety to Your Workout

If the monotony of doing the same run every day is getting you down, try adding more variety to your workouts. While running the same distance or the same route each day keeps your workouts consistent, there’s no reason you can’t mix things up.

Try designating one day each week as your long run day while keeping the other days consistently shorter. Every week, add a mile to your long run day so that you’re gradually building up more endurance and approaching half-marathon or even marathon potential.

If you don’t have marathon goals, try changing up the speed of your daily runs. Make a point of working in a progressive run at least once a week. Try starting your run at marathon pace, and then challenge yourself to drop your pace every mile.

Use a Fitness Tracker

Even if you’re making slow and steady changes to your running routine, it isn’t always easy to track progress. Rather than relying on your notes or your memory, make it easy on yourself by investing in a fitness tracker app. Not only can you track your progress with this type of app, but you can also set small goals and celebrate each time you achieve them. Using a fitness tracker also helps you establish positive habits since you can visualize how much you’ve grown and how far you’ve progressed.

To optimize your running routine, your hydration habits, and your nutrition goals, choose a fitness tracker app that can monitor all of these areas at once. That way you can make sure you’re getting the right calories, carbs, fats, and proteins for your activity level and confirm that you’re hydrating sufficiently, too.

Every runner hits a plateau at some point, but you don’t have to let it derail your long-term progress. Invest in a fitness tracker and keep these tips in mind to improve your fitness and gain progress every week.

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