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Running Tips and Advice


I had over-trained. I put too much pressure on myself because I wanted that gold medal too much. If I had trained 15 percent less, I would have won. I was training like a crazy person. There was a lack of self-confidence and a lack of maturity. An athlete does not only train his body. He trains with his mind.

- Hicham El Guerrouj -
(Moroccan runner on his second-place finish in the 1,500 meters at the )

Your 'base layer' shirt should be synthetic (to wick away perspiration), but just as important: It should fit snugly. If there's air space between you and your first layer, sweat will stay on your skin, cold air will find its way in and you'll get chilled in a hurry.

- Eileen Portz-Shovlin -

Recovery is one of the most important aspects of running, and one that runners often struggle with. One helpful way to monitor your recovery is to grade your workouts. After completing each run, give it a grade in your training log: for example, great, good, fair, or bad. Three consecutive bad days indicate that you aren't getting enough recovery to perform adequately in workouts and should rest or take it easy for a day or two. A full week without any good or great workouts indicates the same.

- Matt Fitzgerald -

You must listen to your body. Run through annoyance but not through pain.

- George Sheehan -

The single biggest mistake made while training during the winter is overdressing. One easy way to determine whether you are overdressed is to use the 'out the door' test. Dress so that you are chilled when you walk out the door for your workout. If you are warm before you begin, you will be too hot and risk overheating during the workout. You don't need as much as you think. Typically you should dress for 15 degrees warmer than the current temperature. That will account for your increased body temperature while moving and is a good gauge in deciding what to wear.

- John Bingham -

For generations, runners have followed the same rituals to warm up before races or workouts: Start with some jogging, move on to a little bit of stretching, then perform a series of 'strides'—short sprints lasting about 10 seconds that get your heart pumping and kick-start the delivery of oxygen to your running muscles. But do these timeworn rituals really help us perform better? Jack Daniels, Ph.D., isn't convinced. 'What I most often see at races is a bunch of runners striding up and down at a speed that is clearly faster than the coming race pace,' he says. Since these strides are the last thing runners do before starting the event, that inappropriate pace is fresh in their minds. 'And when the gun finally sounds, they 'stride' or sprint right out.' The result: a way-too-fast start followed by an inevitable crash.

- Alex Hutchinson -

Running weight and leg length are two factors that can impact one's running performance. However, runners challenged in both areas have passed me during various marathons. This is one reason why I personally do not value genetics or running weight specifically as attributes that act as significant detriments. I attribute strong performances by these challenged runners to motivation and cardiovascular conditioning. If your legs, knees, and feet will allow you to train, then you will need to look elsewhere for excuses.

- David Venable -

I made a pact with myself to never complain about an event I've successfully finished. No matter what my finish time or pace, I will cross the line with a pocket full of gratitude. Records are meant to be broken, but those moments are far and few between. Every adventure offers an opportunity to evolve, explore, and celebrate life. And that is the gift that keeps on giving.

- Jenny Hadfield -

I don't have time is the grown-up version of The dog ate my homework. No Excuses. Just Run.

- Vasia Stamati. -

We have all learned everything we know physically—from walking to running a marathon—by trial and error, so there's no reason to become our own worst enemies when we suffer a setback. From time to time everyone falls short of their goals. It's an illusion to believe that champions succeed because they do everything perfectly. You can be certain that every archer who hits the bull's-eye has also missed the bull's-eye a thousand times while learning the skill.

- Amby Burfoot -

Races are all about energy management. I don't know who was the first to say this, but truer words were never spoken. The only thing worse than running out of energy a mile from the finish line is finishing the race with energy left over.

- Mark Remy -

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 -

Nearly all runners know the voice in their heads that tells them to back off when the going gets tough. Part of training is to help you get better at ignoring this voice and continuing to push even though the voice gets louder and louder as you get more and more fatigued - this will happen in good races as well as in 'bad' races. Step one in perfect race execution is to recognize that even in great performances, the voice will be there. As my sports pyschologist friend, Dr. Stan Beecham, says, 'You ain't gonna get out of the race pain-free so you gotta pick the pain.' Sitting here evaluating, I think we'd all pick the few minutes of pain in the race over the regret that lives with you for days from a poorly executed effort. In the throes of a race, it's never so easy. So don't hope that the race feels easy. Expect it to be hard and know that you're going to have to repeatedly challenge yourself to ignore the voice in your head that wants you to slow down.

- Greg McMillan -

A Meaningful Mantra Regardless of Race Distance: In the first half of the race, don't be an idiot. In the second half of the race, don't be a wimp.

- Scott Douglas -
The Little Red Book of Running

Think you don't have time to run? You can probably make a list of things you're wasting time on today. Cut one of them out and get the run in.

- Calvin Hennick -

Even purely recreational runners can come to know what racers know: that the most enjoyable times in running come when you are teetering on the edge of fatigue but hang on a moment longer, and a moment longer, and at some point discover not only that you can bear it but that you can even pick it up a bit. That is the greatest thrill in endurance athletics – a greater thrill, even, than winning. And it is available to the totally non-competitive runner, so long as you're willing to avail yourself to the opportunity – the freedom – to experiment with levels of fatigue.

- John Jerome -

Run the mile that you're in. Especially for longer races (but even for short ones, like 5-Ks), it can be tempting to dwell on the total distance or on how far you are from the finish line. Try not to. Instead, focus on the mile you're running at that particular moment. Be mindful of the full distance, of course; mentally and physically, you should be aware of how far you've got to go. Primarily, though, keep your head in the here and now. That's a nice metaphor for life, too, by the way. In case you were looking for one.

- Mark Remy -

In purchasing shoes at discounted prices either online, in malls or even at legitimate running stores, be careful of what you purchase. They may be seconds, shoes that have been returned to the manufacturers and recycled. Sometimes it is only a blemish, other times it may be some tiny problem that you can live with given the price. But be careful: Often you get what you pay for. Even in specialty running stores, discounted shoes may be old, meaning they no longer have the same bounce as right after manufacture.

- Hal Higdon -

Running hills breaks up your rhythm and forces your muscles to adapt to different stresses. The result? You become a stronger runner.

- Eamonn Coughlin -

Even with your best blister prevention efforts, sometimes you can't avoid getting painful blisters during a long run. Sometimes blisters are caused by shoes that are tied too tight. You should be able to slide a finger under the knot. If you can't, your shoes are tied too tightly, so loosen the laces in order to give you more room. However, make sure you don't go overboard: Shoes that are too loose can also cause blisters because your foot is sliding around too much, so make sure they still feel snug.

- Christine Luff -

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