'10 running lessons I learnt' - Women's Running

Ten running lessons I learned

Author: Chris Macdonald

Read Time:   |  May 29, 2014

Ten running lessons I learned

Ten running lessons I learned

As someone great once said ‘running is a journey not a destination’. Along this never-ending path there are undeniably certain tips that you pick up. Whether this be what to eat pre-race or actually listening to your body, experience can teach you how to benefit from the daily plod. If I could turn back the clock armed with the knowledge I have now, there are ten things I’d share with my beginner running self.

Buy a decent sports bra

It doesn’t matter if you’re running one mile or 50 at a snail’s pace, or if you are a small handful or a curvy round cup, this essential piece of kit will help prevent the onset of sagginess later on. What’s more,you’ll feel more confident and comfortable. When your jiggly bits are firmly in place, you can concentrate on enjoying your run.

Evaluate your races

You enjoy races and challenging your PB plus the ever-expanding cupboard of medal bling but what are you learning on your way? Of course, you may be happy just to enjoy your run but have you ever considered how you run or race? Perhaps you’d benefit from asking yourself certain questions about your training programme and how you felt on the day to whether you were particularly tired or full of beans? Not only will this assessment help you understand how to smash that PB but it may also offer an inkling into what adjustments can be made so you become the best runner you can be.

Race at your pace

Even those who have run 14 marathons (like myself) can sometimes be swept up in all the adrenaline and excitement on race day. This can mean you go off too fast and end up floundering at the end. Stop, find your own rhythm and stick to it throughout the race. By feeling your way through a race, getting to know the distances and finding a pace that you can control, you’ll build confidence in your racing ability.

Don’t fear the F word

There’s nothing worse than having a bad race, especially when you’ve worked so hard towards it. The disappointment alongside the feeling of letting your supporters down can lead you to fall out of love with running. How do you then rekindle your relationship? Remember, running is a journey and will not always be an easy ride. Use what you consider to be a failure as an impetus to strive forwards and understand that no one is judging you apart from yourself. Adopt a different tact before you jump right back on that racing horse.

Try something new

Avoid getting stuck in a running rut by adding variety to your training. Instead of the same old daily plod, why not try 20 minutes of threshold training, Fartlek or the tempo ‘car colour game’. Say what, the car colour game? Choose two popular colours of cars (red and white for example) and every time a red car passes you, you speed up and vice versa for a white car. It’s a fun way to add variety to your workout. Trying new routes, terrain and sessions will ensure you are getting much more out of your training.

Think about what you eat

While you may love curry, it may not be the best meal to eat the night before a marathon. Only grazing on rice cakes, houmous and apples will also not help when you’re running 13.1 miles the next day. When it comes to nutrition, every runner under the sun has their own opinion. Find out what works for you, especially if your goal is to complete a longer distance. Gels or jelly beans? They both have their benefits. Test out what works for you on training runs and ensure you’re hydrated and fuelled up so you can run to the best of your ability.

Listen to your body

If you need sleep, then miss that running session for that much-needed extra hour or two of shut-eye. If you’re feeling under the weather, then perhaps it’s not such a great idea to head out in the pouring rain for your training run. That slight niggle in your calf is worsening but your schedule says you still need to run 5K. Yeah, right. As much as you’d like to be a well-oiled machine and function without fault, your body will sometimes give you the tell-tale signs to slow it down. And whatever you do, please listen to them.

Treat yourself to a sports massage

Forget relaxing gentle massages that will send you to sleep, a sports massage will tackle those rough spots of tough muscle that need a good knead. It’s hardly a treat for you but your body will thank you for the help on the road to recovery. If you run regularly, then a pre- or post-race massage can identify weaker areas which you need to work on and can help prevent future injury. Admittedly, this conditioning treatment does not come cheap and it could be worth setting aside a budget for it. There are alternatives you can try at home such as a foam roller, the Grid or a tennis ball. Apply pressure (through gritted teeth) via one of these onto your hamstrings, ITB, calves and glutes and your body will benefit, believe me.

Not everyone will get it

Not everyone can comprehend why you love ‘running around in circles’. That being said, family and friends will still support you in your many adventures. They will stand out in the rain, wind and cold, chomping on a burger that cost them a fiver and cheer you on as you pass the finishing line. Make sure you say thank you by making a non-running-related gesture.

Join a running community

Be it a virtual (Twitter) or a local run club, by joining a running community you’ll meet like minded people, learn from the more experienced runners and get sound training advice. The running community is a vibrant and friendly place where people are able to share their experiences and find a network of support. And thanks to Women’s Running magazine, you have a ready-made running community at your fingertips. Take advantage of the experts on hand and find out the answers to your burning questions you lucky thing.

Rebecca Bryant is a ‘fanatical runner and journalist with an adventurous spirit and penchant for fashion and beauty’. She blogs at thestyledynamo.com and can be found tweeting at @SpeedyBecsRun

Want your say? Email us at [email protected] or talk to us in the comment thread below – we will do our best to get back to you soon. Follow us on twitter via @womensrunninguk


Chris Macdonald

Editor-at-Large, Women's Running

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