We’ve spent countless hours talking to the greatest athletes and brightest minds in the sport to examine every training and racing strategy imaginable. We’ve even tested many of those approaches ourselves. While we think it’s all worthwhile info, we recognize that sometimes keeping it simple is best. So we’ve distilled 40 years of advice into one comprehensive list of the 11 pieces of advice that we consider most valuable to your running life.
1. Start with a Run/Walk Program
Many new runners try to do too much too quickly, race out the door and run a few miles. Then, after that misery, plus the soreness the next day and possible injury, they decide they hate running. Instead, start with a run/walk program, gradually increasing the running intervals over time.
2. Strength Train
A total body strength training program will help you run better and prevent injuries. Running can lead to imbalances, which strength training can correct.
3. Improve Your Form
Some runners are naturally blessed with good form and others, well, are not. Do what you can to improve your running form which will help you run faster and reduce injury risk.
4. Variety is the Spice of Running
I’ve heard many runners say things like “I run five miles every day.” Or “I run three miles about three times a week.” While it is great that they are running, variety can lead to better fitness levels as well as fending off that boring feeling of doing the same thing every day. Try running a little longer on one day of the week and a little faster on another.
5. Eat like an Athlete
It’s no secret that runners love to eat and that we, especially long-distance runners, need a lot of calories. That doesn’t mean we should be eating all the junk though. Think of yourself as an athlete and fuel yourself accordingly.
6. Hydrate, Hydrate, and Rehydrate
Staying hydrated is essential for a runner. Drink before, drink during, drink after your run. For longer distance runs, or during hot weather, using an electrolyte supplement like Nuun can help you stay hydrated.
7. Refuel Right After Your Run
Immediately after your run, you should start the recovery process by refueling with a combination of carbs and protein. This can be a recovery drink, a smoothie, or a light breakfast, but taking in something within the first 30 minutes after you finish will help you recover better.
8. Build a Solid Running Base
If your goal is to run longer distance races, like the half marathon, marathon, or beyond, it is important to build a solid running base before you even start your race training plan. Most marathon training plans, for example, start at about 22-25 miles per week and with a long run distance of 10 miles. If you’re not there yet, you need to spend more time building your base.
9. Take Care of That Body!
All runners benefit from body care. Stretching and/or foam rolling after your run, which will help improve your mobility. An occasional massage or Fascial Stretch Therapy. All of these help prevent injury and can improve performance.
10. Strides: The Secret Sauce of Running
Whether you are a beginner, just starting your running journey, or an elite, actually making a living from your running, strides can make a difference in your running. For a beginner, they are the first taste of some type of speed training. Strides help improve leg turnover and running form. And they’re so easy to do!
A few times a week, either after an easy run or as part of your speed workout warmup, find a stretch of 80-100 flat meters. Run at about 90-95% effort, taking about five seconds in the beginning to reach your peak, and about five seconds at the end to slow down to a stop. Total time around 30 seconds. Recover completely before the next stride. Do about 4-6 strides.
11. Hire a Coach
I have to add this one, don’t I? If you’re a beginner, a coach will help you get started safely. If you want to race, a coach will create a personalized plan. Your coach will hold you accountable, keep you healthy, and help you reach your goals, no matter what they are. And it can be surprisingly affordable with the availability of online coaching. I am an RRCA and REVO2LUTION Certified Running Coach.