How to have a great run – 7 Top Tips

In part one of this three part series for beginner runners I talked through my 8 Top Tips for starting to run.

In this second article I’m now sharing with you my 7 Top Tips for having a great Run and making progress.

  1. If you want to make progress – record your runs

I’m a very poor judge of whether a run has been hard or not.

I’ve had runs I felt were terrible that turned out to be some of my quickest. Others, where I felt I was flying along, turned out to be some of my slowest.

I need an aid to understand my runs and, if you’re looking to improve, you should consider it too.

Particularly given how easy it is to do these days:

  1. There are online tools that allow you to manually measure the distance of a route
  2. You can download a running app to your phone and track your runs that way
  3. Or you can get a specialist GPS running watch
  1. Run tall, run well

Try and follow these simple tips and you’ll be more likely to keep good posture:

  1. Run tall, keep your chest up, don’t slouch
  2. Head and chin up, look straight ahead not down at the floor
  3. Shoulders relaxed, don’t hunch them up towards your neck
  4. Elbows bent at 90 degrees, nice and relaxed
  5. Arms swinging back & forwards, not across the body
  6. Relax your hands, don’t clench your fists
  7. Short, quick strides, think Michael Johnson not Usain Bolt!

Runners World have written a great article on ‘Running and Posture’ that’s well worth a read.

  1. Run with music if you want, but be careful you don’t come to rely on it

If you run outside you’ll see many other runners listening to music.

There’s no doubt that having your favourite tunes on can make a run more enjoyable.

But be careful that you don’t come to believe you can’t run without music.

Having experimented at the end of 2016 I’m now a committed ‘no music’ runner:

  • I run quicker
  • I enjoy my runs much more when I don’t have the music to distract me
  • I feel much more ‘present’ and in touch with my body
  • It’s also been a revelation to realise that I don’t ‘need’ music to run – I can do it on my own.

Try making every 3rd or 4th run a ‘no music’ run and see how you get on and have a read of ‘Run Mum’s’ blog on the ‘Pros and Cons of running with Music’

  1. (Try to) stop comparing yourself to faster, fitter looking runners

When I first took up running I struggled with feelings of inadequacy & embarrassment when I encountered someone faster out on the road.

I made up lots of variations of the negative things I imagined they were thinking about me as they floated past.

Want to know the reality?

  1. They probably don’t see you
  2. If they do, they probably don’t care or
  3. They may actually be secretly willing you on (‘go on, you can do it!’) as they remember what it was like when they started

Try (as much as possible) to limit your focus & energy to what you can control – your own performance.

Recognise that focusing on others is a waste of energy, remember – ‘a 12 minute mile is just as far as a 7 minute mile’.

Salty Running’s blog article on ‘Avoiding the Running Comparison Trap’ is a good place to start on this topic.

  1. Marathons & Olympians walk, so can you!

Taking walking breaks on a run is not cheating, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed and it’s nothing to feel embarrassed about!

The Run/Walk approach or ‘Galloway technique’ is a well-tested & proven strategy that can help you run farther, for longer and with fewer injuries.

The Run Mummy Run blog talks about how it was used to successfully complete the 2016 London Marathon and this is a great article on the history of the technique.

Why not try a 5min run/30sec walk or 9mins run/1min walk split?

  1. You’ll have ‘bad’ runs, everyone does

Accept that bad runs happen.

Try and understand why this one didn’t go to plan.

(but don’t beat yourself up if the reason isn’t obvious – the body and mind are complex systems)

Shake them off and know that the next one will be better.

You’ll have far more ‘good’ runs than ‘bad’ runs over the long term.

(But, if you’re in the middle of a slump this article from has ‘8 Ways to Recover from a Bad Run’.)

  1. Psst, want to know a secret? Runner’s High is real!

It probably won’t happen every run, it might actually happen on very few.

But when it does the sense of contentment, calmness, even bliss is both unmistakeable and addictive.

This blog post from Mizuno USA explores the ‘Fact or Urban Myth’ of Runner’s High and one of my favourite run bloggers, aptly named ‘RunBlogger’ talks about his experiences chasing this elusive state in his post ‘Finding a Runner’s High in Maine’.

I hope you enjoyed this post and found some interesting information that you can now take on into your running.

In the final article of this series I’m going to be sharing my Top Post-Run Tips so do come back to find out more.

Thanks and see you out on the road, Chris

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