TOP TIPS FOR RUNNING IN 2023
BY Analytics Team
The new year brings with it a fresh appetite for running. Anya Culling's story of progress over the last two years is recognised as the best in the UK. We spoke to the UK's Most Improved Runner 2022 (awarded by Athletics Weekly) about her top tips for running in 2023.
Running is what keeps us all sane and slightly insane in equal measure. And if you’re reading this you have likely already contracted this same contagious running bug I have.
In the last two years, I’ve gone through every stage of running - from getting back out there in lockdown to running constantly I am here to tell you my top 10 tips for beginners, experienced and advanced athletes alike.
BeginnersREMOVE ALL EXPECTATIONS
I’ve been thinking about what motivates me through and I genuinely think it’s the thought that the key to running success is consistency. Fall in love with the process and the results will follow!
REPLACE EXPECTATION WITH CURIOSITY
- so instead of thinking ‘I should be running this pace (or everyone else is running really quickly), go out with an open mind to enjoy the session, just think ‘I wonder what I could do today!’ Getting out is the hard bit, once you are out of the front door you’re most of the mental way there! When it gets tough remember just one foot in front of the other, the more you run the less you have left to run!
REMEMBER WHY YOU ARE DOING IT
Happy runners are usually good runners. When you become a strava slave, mileage minion or pace prisoner you become blind to the love of running. Use the positive energy to go further and longer, let it power you.
YOU WILL BECOME OBSESSED WITH RUNNING
Even if you hate running when you start, the feeling of achievement will soon convert you. You’ll start looking at landscapes and think ‘I’d love to run there.’ Strava swindles your screen time and you gain an unhealthy reliance on coffee. You’ll google ‘Best running routes near me’, or get angry when your ETA on your car satnav is slower than you know you could run it. The key is STAYING in love with running. Put your best foot forward and take a leap, Working through the good times and the hard! Keeping a relationship alive requires effort and nurturing! Whilst races make you fall head over heels, everyday work needs to be done.
IntermediateAVOID JUNK MILES
Especially at the start of my running, I was guilty of running the same route and pushing the pace too fast on the days it should be easy. This puts you in a grey area of junk miles. You are gaining nothing from this run other than fatiguing your body. You are not pushing it into max speed and not recovering. Keep easy days easy and hard days hard. Keep your legs fresh to get into that red zone in a session. That’s where you’ll reap the benefits.
INCREASING YOUR MILEAGE AND INTENSITY
Train for distance first. It's better for you to start by building an endurance base. That means that you increase your aerobic capacity first but do this gradually. The 10% rule says increase mileage each week by no more than 10% to help avoid injury. Once you have this running economy, focus on intensity and speed by introducing workouts and sessions. First we build, then we add speed.
RHYTHM RUNS AND SLEEP RACING
Rhythm runs are all about finding that groove in a controlled effort. We start slow and work up to find the rhythm in the middle, once you have hit that sweet spot, sleep run. In a race you need to tune in, zone out. Know the pace you need to hit, write it on your arm and forget everything else. Just run. In training runs listen to music with the same number of beats per minute and plod on like a carthorse.
AdvancedRACE BEFORE THE RACE
I always try to race a half marathon 7-5 weeks out from a marathon race to get my body in-tune. It gives confidence that you can hit those paces and gives you a clearer indication of what marathon time you should be aiming for. Tune up races mean you can practise race day strategy and you can get race jutters out of the way. A race environment also helps get your legs rolling perhaps more than you would in a solo session.
TRAIN YOUR GUT
Your stomach is a muscle that needs training for running. Fuel more, run faster. How often do you hear of someone being laid out by stomach cramps or runner’s trots, we’ve all had a PB pulverised by a porta potty party. When you’re smacking a workout your blood is directed to your muscles which makes it trickier for your body to digest fuel. Practice taking gels on training runs to improve efficiency; carbohydrate gels are imperative to a marathon, once you’re in carb depletion there is no return. Fueling in training will improve your body’s ability to digest carbs whilst still supplying oxygen to your muscles.
INCREASE YOUR CADENCE
Cadence is effectively how many steps you take per minute (SPM). The beauty of running is the simplicity, one foot in front of the other. However often we forget about technique, this is when we start to plateau or even get injured. A higher cadence increases efficiency, the quicker your stride rate the quicker you run. A higher cadence also helps decrease injury risk as there’s less impact. You can’t increase your cadence overnight, once again you’ll risk injury so make a conscious effort to increase your SPM gradually. For example a 1km cadence hotspot within a run.
FIND A PACK
Our ancestors are pack animals after all. Find a pacer or tuck in with a group in a race. It’s one less thing to worry about, get your head down and be led to your target time. Work together and encourage each other, tuck into the group if it’s windy, you can even work out an average pace from a culmination of dodgy GPS watch splits. If a pace group is just ahead I would even say it’s worth running a few seconds faster than planned to join them as the benefits you’ll gain from running in a pack will outweigh your harder effort.
Thank you for letting me talk about running, it is my main personality trait! If I help just one person it’ll be a result!