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Running Tips and Advice


It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination. We have a better chance of seeing where we are when we stop trying to get somewhere else. We can enjoy every moment of movement, as long as where we are is as good as where we'd like to be. That's not to say that you need to be satisfied forever with where you are today. But you need to honor what you've accomplished, rather than thinking of what's left to be done.

- John Bingham -

Running is about getting to the heart of the matter. The body, no matter what shape or size, is remarkable. I feel most alive when my blood is flowing through my veins, my arms are pumping, and my legs are propelling me forward. The little aches and pains I experience are mere reminders of what I accomplish step by step.

And step by step I keep pace with myself. Running is my time. No phone, no Internet, no television. No to-do list, no meetings, no interruptions. It's my personal sanity check. When everything is hectic and noisy, I collapse into my running self, and the only sounds I hear are my rhythmic breathing and my footfalls. I challenge myself by pushing hard, or I take control by running at a nice steady tempo, or I empower myself by running any way I feel.

Sometimes my impulse is to run and get away from my problems. When I put distance between myself and whatever is amiss in my world, my troubles evaporate for a brief time. Sometimes I even manage to solve dilemmas that seem overwhelming. Running clears my mind; my thoughts are peaceful. And when I think I can't do something, then figure out it's not impossible, my attitude changes. It's the same feeling as when I crest that daunting hill and think I'm on top of the world, absolutely invincible.

- Joanne Hirase-Stacey -
(The Ultimate Runner: Stories and Advice to Keep You Moving)
The Ultimate Runner

We westerners have a tendency to look outside ourselves for secrets and shortcuts. But running is such a basic, nontechnical activity that the greatest truths may be the simplest. You have to train hard. You have to take rest breaks. You have to eat well but not too much. You have to expect some bad days and bad races; all life, after all, follows certain cyclical patterns. Excessive worry and hair-pulling won't do too much good. The best way to race well another day is to put today behind you. You can't change it, so you might as well accept it and move onward. Face tomorrow with a fresh, open, confident attitude. If you believe tomorrow could be the day when everything works out perfectly for you, then that may in fact be the case.

- Amby Burfoot -
Runner's World Complete Book of Beginning Running

A main difference between true runners and dabblers at running is how often they obey stop signs. You are a true runner because of the running you do on the days when you didn't feel like starting.

There also are days when feelings lie in reverse. You want to run when your body really needs to rest. But far more often you don't feel like taking the hardest step - the first one out the door - and look for reasons not to take it. These reasons usually have nothing to do with your ability to run. You just feel sleepy, hung over, harried, stuffy, or stiff - feelings that running is more likely to cure than to make worse.

Get past the lying feelings by making them wait to be heard. Plan only to start, reserve judgement for a mile or two, and only then decide where to go from there. The body tells the truth after it is warmed up. More often than not, the voices that conspired against running will have stilled by then.

- Joe Henderson -

Don't compare yourself with anyone else. The world is full of runners, so you'll probably see one every time you circle the block or your favorite park. Some will be thinner than you, some smoother-striding, some faster. But don't let this get you down. There's only one runner who really counts: you. Running is your activity. Make it work for you, and don't worry about anyone else.

- Amby Burfoot -
Runner's World Complete Book of Beginning Running

Make running a lifestyle. A daily habit, like brushing your teeth. If you run 300+ days a year, every year, for several years, good things will come your way. Start now. Doesn’t matter if you are 16 years old or 66.

If you want to be a decent runner you must get out and run; the rest is just noise.

Get the running in first— that is the foundation. Then: Eat mostly good stuff. Get enough sleep. Stretch if you want to— or don’t. Lift if you like lifting. Cross-train if it makes you happy. Wear minimalist shoes or big bulky ones, whichever you prefer. Listen to music when you run, or not. You can carry water with you on a long run, or you can go without. If you want to do a core routine, then do it— but first you must get out and run.

Run on trails, or streets, or on a treadmill, whatever works for you. Run slowly. Run quickly. Run up hills. Run in the rain. Run in the snow, the heat, the cold. Run into the wind. Run on the days that you do not feel like running. Run on the days that you can’t wait to get out and run. Run with friends. Run alone. Run races. Run in the country. Run in the city. Run in parks. Run when you feel happy. Run when you are depressed. Run when you have a ton of energy. Run when you are feeling like shit. Run when you feel good. Run in the morning. Run at night. Run before work. Run after work. Run.

- Unknown -

Always love the sport. Make sure you're always having fun with it. That's one thing that's been key to my running career. The moment you start to feel like it's not fun and you stop enjoying it that's a problem. That's what life's about. Always just make sure you have fun with it. At the end of the day that's what life is about, having fun.

- Mary Cain -
(Youngest athlete to represent the U.S. at the World Championships (201)

It amazes me how little time people spend on mental training. 30K into a marathon on race day is too late to figure out that you need to train your brain. There are many different tools you can use. Have a bank of positive images and songs. It doesn't have to be related to sport at all. That way, when the going gets tough--and it will get tough--you can draw on those images and have peace of mind.

I have some mantras that I write on my water bottle and wristband when I race. One is 'smile,' and another is 'never give up.' There's a poem I write on my water bottle--Rudyard Kipling's 'If.' It encapsulates everything you need to do to be a good athlete, especially the mental side of the game. 'If you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;/If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,/But make allowance for their doubting too...'

It's all about keeping calm under pressure and knowing that triumph and disaster are one and the same thing. You can win or lose, and often losing can be just as much of a learning experience as the victory can. Someone said to me in an interview the other day, 'You've never lost an Ironman; what would it feel like to lose?' And I think, is coming in second losing or is it coming in second? It's changing the concept of success and failure, triumph and disaster.

- Chrissie Wellington -
(Four-time World Ironman champion)

Consistency requires discipline. Force yourself out the door. It is easy to take a day off when things get hectic. A day or two off here and there won't hurt, but skipping workouts too often will. To succeed as a competitive runner, you need to be a little compulsive about getting in your daily run. If possible, schedule runs for the same time every day; make it an important appointment with yourself. Set weekly goals, and stick with them.

- Bob Glover -

Thinking about embarking on a new lifestyle, improving your current lifestyle or setting new running goals? The first step in that process is being honest. It's not enough to want to change or achieve. You have to know what price you're willing to pay to do it. Sometimes it's just not that easy. I have to train rigorously to run marathons. Marathon training divides my life neatly into two categories: what I have to do because I'm training for a marathon and what I can't do because I'm training for a marathon. What I have found, and what I think you'll find, is that small sacrifices yield large benefits. By moving a little more, eating a little less, and making better choices more often, you'll be surprised at how your body will respond. More importantly, your spirit will be lifted as you live up to your best expectations.

- John Bingham -

Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired. You've always got to make the mind take over and keep going.

- George S. Patton -

I try to stay in the moment. I try to be present and to not get ahead of myself. Many times a low point comes as a result of suffering and thinking about how much more suffering is still ahead. I try to remain in the moment and just put one foot in front of the other to the best of my ability and not to think about anything else except for each individual forward stride.

- Dean Karnazes -
( When asked how he battles through a dark moment in a race or training run.)

Relax, it's just running. Of course it can be the most intoxicating, captivating, meaningful part of your life. But it's still just running. Nobody's making you do it, and you're not going to save the world doing it. So find what you enjoy about running, and then follow your bliss.

- Scott Douglas -
1,001 Pearls of Runners' Wisdom

No single workout better prepares us for a goal race than a tune-up race. While we can simulate many of the physical demands of racing by running hard intervals or a time trial, that simulation is far removed from the experience of toeing the line. Racing is about nerves. And confidence. And self-control. It's about the ability to deal with inadequate parking, delayed start times, bad weather, a shortage of porta-potties, and any other obstacle that crops up in a race environment. And, of course, it's about putting the mental and physical pieces together to produce our best performance. Tune-up races prepare us for all of this, both melding the elements of our training fitness and familiarizing us with the situational aspects of race day.

- Pete Magill -

The longer you are stuck in a rut, the more you are inclined to think that you’ve hit the edge of your abilities. You’ve touched the genetic third rail and so there’s no further progress possible, right? Hogwash. Every runner, at some point, experiences doubt. Change your attitude. Believe in yourself. Go back to your progress as a runner and focus on the positives. Your breakthrough may be one race away; it could be years away. The time frame doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you recognize it’s out there. Go find it.

- Duncan Larkin -

Frustration is the first step towards improvement. I have no incentive to improve if I'm content with what I can do and if I'm completely satisfied with my pace, distance and form as a runner. It's only when I face frustration and use it to fuel my dedication that I feel myself moving forwards.

- John Bingham -

Every marathon training schedule should include a number of shorter races. Ideally, there should be a 5k early on, then maybe a 10k, and a half marathon about 4 weeks before your target race. It doesn't have to be exactly like that, though. If there are races within your vicinity of slightly different distances, then participating in them will still be beneficial. Taking part in a race will get you used to the atmosphere, and the organisation of a race in general. It might teach you how to drink from a cup, or how to pace yourself correctly. Most of all, a race is always a great workout. I don't know about you, but I can always run faster and at higher intensity if there is a number pinned to my chest.

- Thomas Bubendorfer -

Running has the potential to significantly increase your life span and to impact positively the quality of your life. It's not so much the running of a race that affects your health, but the lifestyle changes that often accompany the commitment to run.

To become a successful runner, you need to: (1) follow a proper diet, (2) eliminate extra body fat, (3) refrain from smoking and avoid heavy drinking, (4) get adequate sleep, and (5) exercise regularly. Epidemiologists believe that the proper combination of diet and exercise plus preventative health maintenance can extend life by as much as six to nine years!

- Hal Higdon -

The ability to continue when training gets difficult is the greatest opportunity to grow as an athlete and a human being. If you can find the right encouragement within you during a tough moment, you're giving yourself a vital tool to accomplish many great things. Sometimes the same verse can get stale, so I think it's important to keep mantras fresh and effective. That being said, the most significant words my coach Terrence Mahon ever told me was as I was heading to the starting line of the Chicago Marathon in 2005. My goal was to win the race, and my training had gone very well. He is a guy of many words and on this day he simply said 'Define yourself.' It was such a powerful statement and I rehearsed it a million times on the streets of Chicago that morning—and got my first marathon win.

- Deena Kastor -
(American Record Holding Marathon Runner)

Just as you write down other important appointments, you need to literally pencil in time for your run. The process itself is empowering. In the few seconds it takes to scribble 'run' into a time slot, you make running a part of your life.

- Jeff Galloway -
1,001 Pearls of Runners' Wisdom

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