Five Top Tips For Runners
Since we're right in the middle of the running season, when people are preparing for 10ks, half-marathons, marathons (or even ultras, in the case of our 100 Mile Move More Team), I'd been planning on giving you my Top Five Tips for runners.
I wrote them out. It was full of advice regarding posture, cadence, intervals and neuro-muscular development. Fascinating. It occurred to me that perhaps I had spent too much time in geek land.
So instead I turned to Gavin again. Gavin has been listening to me spout off about running for a long, long time now. He's also studied with one of the great running biomechanists, Lee Saxby and turned himself from a treadmill-training marathoner with severe injuries, into a pain-free trail-freak ultrarunner. I thought it'd be interested to see what lessons he'd found most useful. So here they are:
Have a Plan
Always have a plan – if only for the week ahead. If you are building up to an event or race, a good training plan is a necessity. But even if you aren't, have a plan and stick to it. The reason is simple: it keeps you honest and committed. It becomes a contract with yourself that you won't want to break. Having a vague idea that you will run an unspecified distance on an unspecified number of days just isn't the same. A plan builds habits and consistency which lead to improvement and results.
Focus on Yourself
Now you have your plan you need to trust it. We are all different runners. We run for different reasons and at different speeds. Sure, Strava and Runkeeper are great for a bit of light competition and tracking your improvement, but remember our training should be specific to ourselves. If you're coming to the end of a 10-mile training run don't be disheartened when you’re overtaken by someone twice your weight and age doing their only 3-mile run of the week. Similarly if you are just starting out with running don't be disheartened by others quicker than you. If anything they show you what you could be. Focus on yourself and steady improvement will soon come your way.
Variety is The Spice of Life
Make sure that your weekly plan is varied. Mix up interval sessions with tempo runs. Throw in a long slow run. The variety of sessions will not only keep you interested, but also help you to reap considerable improvements in strength and conditioning as well as overall performance.
Don't just apply this to speed and distance though. Add in a trail run for a new experience and to learn about running on different surfaces. Don't always have your headphones on. Experiment with using music as a boost rather than the norm. Ditch the GPS from time to time to get a good feel for natural pacing. All these bits of variety broaden your skill as a runner.
Find your reason for running and embrace it. Some of us love nothing more than hitting the trails for twenty miles of adventure, whilst others crave the adrenalin of a 10k. Maybe you love being outside in nature, escaping the pressure of work and being with your own thoughts. Maybe a 3-mile lung-bursting blast is the best stress relief you can think of. And if you really aren't ‘feeling’ a particular run, don't flog on with it, listen to your body. Whatever your reason for running, don't view it just a form of exercise. It's a fundamental form of human movement. Eat better, move more and your overall wellbeing benefits.
Running is a Skill
I'll spare you the full ‘we were born to run’ spiel and keep it simple. Our bodies are designed for running, but life gives us bad habits, tightens muscles, bends our posture. Even the very best athletes have coaches. A skilled coach will soon help you assess your technique and how you can improve. They will support and encourage you. They will help you plan for your goals, and they will hold you accountable to that plan. Small changes can bring considerable improvement in performance, reduce the likelihood of injury, and make running more enjoyable. And that's what we’re all looking for isn't it?
For more information on how The Movement Clinic can help you with your running, contact us now. As well as technique workshops, we offer event preparation, bespoke strength and conditioning programs, Pilates, Yoga, sports and remedial massage and much more to help you reach your goals.
The pic is of Gavin and Robby over 30 miles into the 2014 Thames Trot 50... The Thames was flooded that year... it had been a very long day!