10 top running tipsIf running is your route to a healthier 2014, live by these ten principles and you won’t go far wrong...
1) It's a marathon not a sprint
As a beginner runner, it’s important to remember that, no matter how little you currently run, or how big your running ambitions might be, the best way to succeed is to follow a steady and progressive plan. Allow yourself time to build up distance and speed gradually and you'll enjoy a long and successful running career. Pile on the miles too fast and you'll end up injured and wasting days or weeks recovering and feeling fed up.
2) The right kit is essential
This sounds like an excuse to throw money at the project in an attempt to make it work better, but kitting yourself out with appropriate trainers, clothing and technology really can make the difference between an average running career and one that quickly goes from strength to strength. Get comfortable, wear clothing that's appropriate to the conditions you're training in and use technology to track your progress and fine-tune your training schedule for best results.
3) Learn to listen to your body
To make life easy, use training schedules – like the one below – to fast track your progress towards great results. Remember however that feedback from your body will always be your most important indicator for how hard you push yourself. If you experience any aches, pains, fatigue or unexpected tiredness, take time to rest and recover, regardless of what your training plan says. Only add a training load to a healthy and well-prepared body and mind, don’t expect much response if you start a training session feeling weak, wobbly and exhausted.
4) Running is not just about running
It's tempting to think that to be a better runner the best thing to do is get out there and pound out mile after mile, but it's far better to focus on the quality of each of the miles you run and also balance the physical motion of running by including regular strength training, core work and flexibility training as well as elements of yoga, Pilates or cross training such as cycling, swimming, rowing or circuit training.
5) Develop a support team and use it
Be proactive with how you maintain your best running fitness by regularly checking in with your 'team' of specialists. The occasional appointment with a Physio, podiatrist, chiropractor or massage therapist can keep you in tip-top shape and greatly reduce the chance of developing any injuries.
6) Variety is the spice of running
Don't restrict yourself to running the same familiar routes over and over again. The greater the variety in your training terrain, the quicker your fitness gains will be. Running up and downhill will greatly improve basic speed and the strength in your legs so make sure you regularly incorporate hills of varying lengths and inclines. Include sprint training as well whether this be running chosen sections of some routes faster or by visiting a running track for some focused all-out efforts.
7) Challenge yourself
Running is fantastic for its own ends, great for some me time and wonderful for stress relief. This is all very well but you’ll soon find that once you get started you’re going to want to test your abilities either against the clock or against your fellow runners. Start thinking of some races or charity events that you’d like to participate in. This is a great way to structure your training schedule and push yourself a little bit harder than if you’re running just for the sake of it.
8) Train with someone or join a club
Running is great as a portable way of working out and many people enjoy the individual and spontaneous aspects of running; in essence, you can get on with it whenever and wherever you want. For the best results with your running it’s a good idea to spend some portion of your training with other people. Whether it be a friend, training partner or members of a running club, regular interaction with other runners will keep you motivated and help you uncover new training ideas. You’re also more likely to push yourself to new fitness levels in the company of others than by yourself.
9) Regularity is everything
If you really want to make progress with your running, take a long-term view with your training. Don't worry about missing a run if you need to recover or you’re following a scheduled a break, but otherwise aim to keep your running routine as regular as possible. Irregular or sporadic training leaves you feeling as though you're often playing catch up having made progress and then taken one or two steps backwards whereas an approach that includes consistent running will ensure you always feel you’re making progress. No run is too short, no training session too quick. If you're pushed for time you can make training runs as short as 5 minutes and they'll still count. Time pressure makes you creative with your training plans. If you're honest and give your training your full focus and work hard you'll know that even 2 or 3 minutes can make a massive difference to how you feel physically and mentally.
10) Running makes the world a brighter place
Even on the gloomiest of days you'll feel better after a run. Run to beat a time, run to help you wake up, run to solve a work problem or run to blow out some stress. Whatever your reason each day for running, one thing’s for sure, make the effort to get out there and you won't regret it.