Five Basic Running Tips

Get Back to Basics with These Five Universal Truths

five basic running tips
Reading about running training can be quite confusing.

You think you need to learn about your VO2max, the difference between tempo running, interval running and repetitions, foot types you did not even know you had, etc.

Sometimes it is good to go back to basics.

Just the simple universal truths of running, that are true for anyone. No matter whether you are a fast runner or a bit slower.

These five running tips will help your running. They will help you to stay away from injuries and consistently improve your performance.

running tips
They are:

  • Change between hard and easy.

  • Consistency is one key...

  • ... Patience is the other.

  • We're all an experiment of one.

  • Getting better gets harder.

  • Running Tip #1: Change Between Hard and Easy

    Running hard one day after the other will soon get you exhausted and not being able to run anymore at all. Too many of us try to run as fast as possible every time they run. I can see it when answering questions from readers. We need to learn the hard/easy principle. Every hard effort needs to be followed by an easy one. On your easy days, your body "repairs" itself, literally in the case of muscle fibers, building new blood cells etc.

    Run hard every day and your body will not be able to repair itself, causing it to break down eventually.

    So, value your easy days as much as your hard days.

    Does an easy day need to be a rest day?

    No, although for beginning runners it usually is. An easy day needs to be a day in which you take your mileage and your speed down. So an easy, short run could count as an easy day.

    For both beginners and more advanced runners, a lot is to be said for doing some cross training instead. It will give your running muscles and your joints and ligaments a bit of rest.

    pain is temporary...

    Running Tip #2: Consistency is One Key...

    You will not achieve your best running if you do not run consistently. Try as much as possible to keep to a minimum number of running days per week, preferrably three or more.

    five basic running tips
    Running three times per week should help you build a decent base of fitness. And for many of us, that's enough.

    When you get more competitive, you will have to run more than three times per week. However, what is more important is consistency. Inconsistency is what kills progress. Running four times one week, then not at all the next two, then pick it up again? You will not see much progress.

    Try to keep to a running program that you can handle, physically and mentally. I, as I am sure you do as well, have a busy life. Demanding job, family, running, maintaining a social life, a website to maintain... it all takes time.

    But there is a contract I have made with myself. No matter what, I will run at least three times a week. Each week I will block out time in my agenda for my runs and I will go out of my way to make at least those three times happen. Often I will be able to do more, but three is the minimum I do.

    We all have time to take showers, brush our teeth and eat. Of course you say, that's just part of everyday life. Well, just treat your running as part of everyday life as well... :)

    Running Tip #3: ... Patience is the Other

    running tips

    Results do not come overnight. You need to have patience with yourself. So do not expect wonders after two weeks of running training, your improvements will come but they require time.

    Running training is a process. You do the work, day after day, week after week, month after month. Slowly you will get faster and fitter. But it takes time.

    You also need to be patient with respect to building up the mileage; make sure you listen to your body and do not just pile up the miles. If you do that you are bound to get injured. Your body needs time to adjust to changes in workload.

    Read more about increasing mileage safely here.

    Running Tip #4: We're All an Experiment of One

    We all have different genetics. Some of us are gifted and just very fast. Some of us will never be as fast. Some of us can handle 50-60 miles per week every week. Some of us can only handle 20 to 30.

    We are all different. We can influence our fitness and our speed. Through consistent training, through slowly building up mileage and through strength training we can get fitter, faster and stronger.

    five basic running tips
    But at some point you will hit your limits. A certain mileage level gets you injured, while a friend can do it easily. You can get to a 22 minute 5k with hard work and determination whereas somebody else runs it in 18 minutes on virtually no training.

    We are all an experiment of one. You need to find out for yourself what works and what does not. And where your limits are. Do not get influenced too much by what other runners can or cannot do. Focus on your own experiment of one and get the best out of yourself!

    Running Tip #5: Realize that Getting Better Gets Harder

    running tips
    Starting from a zero base you will be pleasantly surprised that within a matter of weeks you can make impressive fitness gains.

    First you could not run a mile.

    A few weeks later you do two without stopping.

    You are able to do races.

    And regularly break some personal records.

    However when you have been running for a longer period, your progress may stagnate for a while.

    You may not run personal records anymore.

    That's the point where you have reached that level of fitness at which you plateau.

    After that you need to run much smarter to get better results. The key here is to recognise these moments and consider what you could do differently in your training to help yourself become even a faster runner.

    This could mean that you need to increase your mileage. You may need to do more quality workouts like tempo runs or intervals. You may need to do more strides. Maybe strength training is the answer.

    Once you have hit a plateau, you need to make some changes. Maybe you need to focus on shorter races for a while? Or on longer ones?

    There are many different possible reasons. If you are truly stuck, sometimes it is useful to get the support of a coach. They can help you work out what your next goal should be and how to get there.

    If that is something you might be interested in, check out my coaching service for further information.

    I hope this article helps you focus on the important parts of your running training.

    You can say an incredible lot about running. I'd say this website is a testament to that... :)

    I'd never expected it to become this size!

    But in the end, it comes down to the basics. Consistent running. Trusting the process of running training to deliver the results. Applying the hard/easy principle. Not getting frustrated about what other runners can do that you cannot. Stick to these enduring basic running tips and you are doing a lot right. And when you don't know how to improve any further, you can always talk to a coach like myself to work out your next steps!

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