3 Training tips to ensure long-term running success
Updated: May 3
Are you looking to do more running training? Congratulations, running is awesome! Not only is it a great way to improve fitness levels, but there are also countless ways that your body can benefit. With running you can lose weight, get fitter, use it for a method to return from injury or even as an excuse to focus on you for an hour or so. An escape from life is always nice.
No matter what you motivation is behind running, it is incredibly important to ensure that you go about the process correctly. The last thing you would want is to burn out or risk injury by doing too much too soon.
With that in mind, here are our top 3 tips around how you can make running a long term health and fitness solution.
Take it easy (slow)
One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to running (especially people new to running) is going too fast. It is also probably the number 1 reason why people don’t stick to running in the long term.
A classic scenario happens once a year, every year. The 1st of January and the inevitable New Years Resolution. People making a resolution to lose weight/get fitter/healthier. They find an old pair of runners in the wardrobe (or get a new pair) and go for a run. Full of excitement about the new version of you, you set a pace similar to an olympic runner. You know, the faster you go, the more your lungs are in pain, the more you really want it. About 15 minutes later you have to stop before your heart jumps out of your body.
Your brain goes: “well, that was horrible I don’t ever want to do that again!” And you decide you’re not built for running.
If you manage to push through this and last a few more runs, it is not uncommon that by run #3 you would be nursing a minor injury and some very sore limbs.
So, how about slowing down?
Speed is key with success. The slower you start, the stronger the foundation and the higher the chance of success. Build layers and before you know it you will be able to run like the best of them.
Our #1 tip with slowing things down is to focus on heart rate over speed. Make sure your heart rate does not go too high. There is no need for expensive gadgets to watch your heart rate. All you need is a running buddy that you can chat to the entire way or focusing on breathing through your nose (or just nice easy/slow breathing).
If you can’t say a couple of sentences without gasping for air – you’re going way too fast. Slow it down! Relax, enjoy your surroundings. If you turn the experience into something that is pain free, your brain will more likely want to do it again.
Finally, if you are someone with a good base line of fitness that has been doing some sort of an exercise all your life, but it hasn’t been running – chances are you won’t get puffed as much and it’d be easy to “push it”. All the pounding (impact) in running is very taxing on your body. It is actually your muscles, joints and tendons that need the extra time to get used to it (to adapt to the load/impact). Your cardiovascular system adapts much quicker than your body, so make sure no matter your fitness level, you focus on starting slow.
Consistency is key
Consistency is key with anything in life, and it could not be more true about running.
Ok, so you’ve done a few runs everything is going well but life gets in the way. You miss a run or two. To make up, you just cram everything into one run or you just miss the entire week (or 3) and start again the week after.
If you are lucky, apart from the very next run feeling extra hard, nothing really happens.
In the worst case scenario however, this approach will lead to an injury – maybe not immediately but eventually.
Like with any training, if you really want to improve, we would recommend that the sweet spot is somewhere between 3-5 sessions/runs every single week. It might sound like a lot, but if you truly want to build the best foundation possible, you MUST commit to the consistency required to see success.
You need to build it around your life, not put life on hold in order to achieve this goal. Balance is vital.
You get stuck at work and only have only 20 minutes to run? Run for that 20 minutes, just get it done. It is far better to do something than nothing because you don’t have the full amount of time you anticipated.
Don’t feel like running? Go for a walk instead. Focus on getting used to the frequency and consistency and the rest will come.
After you have been running for a couple of weeks, it is not uncommon to expect to feel fitter then you are. It is not uncommon to expect to find it easier than it is.
That feeling of deservedness can be understandably frustrating!
Especially if you’ve been following all the advice, going slower and with more consistency. You can feel that you are shuffling and just want to break out in to a much faster run.
“What is the point of this, I am not improving?”
“Am I not doing this right, have I missed something?”
“Maybe it is time I tried something new”
Now is the time to be patient and trust the process.
James Clear makes a great analogy in his book Atomic Habits that could help you to understand what we mean by this.
“You have an ice cube on a table in a room that is 20 degrees.
Your goal is to melt that ice cube.
You start heating up that room slowly, 21, 22, 23.
You see no changes.
There is no evidence your efforts are working.
24, 25, 26.
Still no melting.
Are you doing the right things?
It’s not working.
Should you quit?
You’ve been heating the room up for an hour and still no melting.
Eventually you hit 30, 31, 32.
You see the first signs of melting.
You were doing the right things all along, you just didn’t see any obvious progress.”
Patience is what will get you across the line. It is what will help you keep the consistency required to see success. It is the glue that holds the first two tips together and it is what will define whether or not you can stick to running as a long term plan.
These three running tips, if followed correctly will give you a much higher and more targeted chance of success.
This article was originally posted on Authentic Personal Training
Join our brand new Run Strong classes on Monday at 6.30pm Run by Exercise Physiologist and Physiotherapist Shaun Miller. Perfect for the weekend warrior starting soccer, touch football, rugby, netball, hockey or ramping up running. During each class you will work on lower limb strength, power, control and most importantly, injury prevention.