Eight Running Tips

Running is a different kind of sport from many other physical activities.
Sometimes your biggest competitor isn’t the other person in the race or the clock. It’s yourself.
The competition, in your head, sounds something like “Can I keep up this pace until the next post, the next road, the end?” or “I ran better than this last time, what’s happened?”.
Sometimes it sounds like “That so-and-so has come past me four times then slowed right down. They are NOT going to beat me”.
Every training run can become a competition with yourself. And that can be the first big problem for new runners, especially those who mainly run alone. If every run becomes a fight with the clock or a comparison with your previous best figure, where’s the enjoyment gone?

Running Tip 1

Every 7th training run (you pick the number), leave your watch at home. Just go out and enjoy a run. Smell the flowers, unless its rapeseed or linseed. Listen to the wildlife or the neighbours arguing. Sometimes I’ll get home from a run and my wife will ask how far I’ve been or what sort of time it was. I haven’t a clue and I really enjoyed it!
Many people with stressful jobs do enjoy the solitude of a long run. I see them out with their headphones on, staggering around after the first mile or so.

Running Tip 2

If you really do need headphones to run, make sure the volume doesn’t stop you hearing your own body. You need to know if your breathing has suddenly gone west or if your feet have become tired and flat. On country roads it’s essential to hear what’s around you. Assume drivers on country roads are on the way home from a brain donor session, you won’t be far wrong.

Running Tip 3

In the last few years the Parkrun movement has swept through Britain. Every Saturday morning at 9am tens of thousands of runners of all abilities do a 5km run. It’s measured, it’s timed, it’s fantastic and it’s free.
If you’re new to running, don’t wait until “I’m good enough for Park Run”. Just do it. http://www.parkrun.org.uk/ If you have the stamina to read this far, then you’re half way there.

Running Tip 4 and 5 – Kit

There is a huge range of running equipment available and the internet will beat the local running shop on price hands down, every day. Footwear is the most important thing to get right.
I, like many other runners I know, have had a bargain pair of trainers. Then, a few months later, after our calves and knees have recovered, we’re back out running again. In my experience it’s also worth spending money on decent running socks. Rubbish trainers will get your knees and calves but it takes poor socks to give you the best blisters.
Get a pair of trainers that are right for you. This will mean going to a local specialist with the right equipment. These shops are often staffed by top local runners who can give you local advice and information that they have gained first hand
Tip 5, when you get a pair of running shoes that really suit you, get another pair exactly the same as soon as possible. The manufacturers are constantly dabbling with patterns and stitching and layouts.

Running Tip 6

At some point you’ll want to be involved in an organised event. These are known as “races” for those people at the front in the dim and distant. For everyone else an amazing thing happens. You realise that you are in a crowd, alone. But that’s not a scary alone, that’s a “This is me. These strangers, that I may be competing with, genuinely want me to do well”.
Find a local race and enter it. If you’re nervous or worried, get your name printed on the front of our vest or tee shirt. So many strangers will call your name and wish you well.

Running Tip 7

Many new runners are training for an event. Something like a charity run or a half marathon or even a full marathon. After some training you’ll have an idea of the sort of time that you’d really like to do. Then you find a training schedule that says “for your first half marathon your longest training run only needs to be 10 miles”
Ignore the time it takes but get out and keep going for your target distance plus at least 5%. For a half marathon have a training run of at least 13.5 miles. Aim to keep going for this distance, whether that’s running or walking. A variation on this is to run for at least your target time plus 5%. Ignore the distance covered. The confidence you gain when you have this “in your head” is tremendous.

Running Tip 8

Running can be boring and repetitive. Your ankles, knees and hips will tell you that. Many new runners make a target of increasing their distance to build up stamina. Unfortunately, this becomes their only target quite quickly.
This leads to injuries as the same part of the body is being used with the same stride pattern and making the same impact on every stride. Any slight inequality in your body or any imperfection in your style is repeated over and over.
Mix up your runs, even on the same circuit. Many single runners like to use the same, safe circuit. Mix up the speeds, race yourself between those 2 lampposts and then walk a bit. This will help to give you the variety that will help keep off injuries.

This post was initially produced for Mo Andrew’s blog in 2015. I’ve been following Mo’s progress (with a bucket and shovel) on Twitter and I feel a bit responsible for her getting the running bug. Along with other virtual pals on social media we’ve cajoled and encouraged Mo along.